Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C (January 17)
Homily for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C (January 17)
Until recently, when a woman married she took the name of her husband. The first reading today is all about the changing of names. In Hebrew society, and throughout the Bible, when someone did something remarkable, there would be a name change. Abram becomes Abraham. In the New Testament Peter becomes Cephas and Saul becomes Paul. Isaiah is prophesying still after 62 chapters of prophecy. His prophecy is coming to a close, but he says he will not stop prophesying, will not keep silent or be at rest until Israel is vindicated in the eyes of God and the world. He predicts a time when Israel will be saved in the sight of all the nations, and in this event, it will be given a new name by God. Now, he says people are calling us by the names of “Forsaken” by God and “Desolate”, but soon Israel will be called “My Delight is in Her” and “Married”. He predicts that God will marry Israel and rejoice over his bride. And the bride’s name will be changed.
Whether or not that is where the tradition of changing a bride’s name comes from, what is being predicted here is that God will not forsake his chosen people, but will save them, forgive them, vindicate them, marry them, and rejoice over them. So this is again a Messianic prophecy and the promise of a new world.
The Gospel is about a marriage as well. We leave the Gospel of Luke for a week and jump to Jesus’ very first miracle as described in the Gospel of John which takes place at a wedding feast in Cana. There is a change of name in this story as well, and also, a physical transformation as water becomes wine.
There are many interesting things in this first miracle of Jesus as described by John. It is not a miracle as in the Synoptic Gospels which involves a cure of some sort or a raising from the dead. It seems almost insignificant and out of place, and perhaps that is why Jesus seems to have a bit of trouble in doing it. He submits to the request of his mother either simply because she asks him, and he is obedient to her, or because he is aware of the embarrassment of the bride and groom. But it is a different kind of miracle than we have seen. And no-one wants to be embarrassed on a wedding day.
Just as a passing note, today, January 17th, would have been the 74th anniversary of my parent’s marriage. As it was they made it to 71 years. I have always thought that my father would have liked the expression”My delight is in her,” that we hear the bride called in Isaiah since their marriage was a really good one.
In any case, this was the first miracle, which John calls a “sign” causing belief in the disciples who were with him. I do find it rather comical that the water Jesus turned into the superior wine was from the jars they used to wash people’s feet. I wonder if there was any meaning in that as well.
If we pause to look at St. Paul’s epistle today, we see that it doesn’t thematically link up with the other two readings, nor does it usually, but I would suggest that in the marriage of God and his people, it is God who activates the marriage – the male counterpart. And it is the Spirit that is the activator. So Paul is able to explain to us that God activates in various ways in various people. We don’t all get the same gifts. That would be kind of boring or redundant. No, some gain knowledge, some become healers, some work miracles, some prophecy, some gain discernment, some speak in tongues and some are able to interpret tongues. And it is God who chooses what talents, what activities are activated in each of us and what we will be good at, perhaps even enhancing our natural God-given abilities.
So what can we concentrate on this week from the endings that we can integrate into our own lives? First of all, we need to take a deep breath that Christmas is over, and maybe look back at the good moments we had during that period, putting anything negative aside. We need to start discerning our own special abilities and what it is that we can give back to the church community. Many of us in the parish do many things. Some do more than others, but I would say we have a pretty active parish. The caring that I see for each other in this parish is also enormous and we have indeed become a family. We need to rejoice in that – treating every Eucharist as a wedding feast where we come together and enjoy each other more and more. Try to ask yourself what it is that can allow you to participate more fully in this community and see if you can find time to fit it in. The rewards for this are not just heavenly rewards but like the drinking of wine – it makes you feel “real good” as well!
Let us hope that within this parish we can truly be married to God and allow God to shine forth through our interests, talents, and gifts.
And this is the blessing I ask of You and the Good News I impart on this beginning day of the Church’s “ordinary” or the time of non-special feasts. God bless.
Bishop of Holy Trinity Diocese and St. Andrew’s Cathedral Parish
The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)
[Volume 3 (Luke) of Bishop Ron’s homilies, one for every Sunday and Feast from the last Cycle C, is available from amazon.com for $9.99 – “Teaching the Church Year”]