Homily on The Wedding @ Cana

Readings: Is 62:1-5;  Ps 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10;1 Cor 12:4-11; John 2:1-11  

David Brooks, author, teacher, political and social commentator writes Op-Eds for the NYTIMES and appears on PBS Newshour on Fridays.   Yesterday (Friday), he wrote about Student and Teacher relationships and the necessity of healthy emotional bonds to actualize good learning. He quotes cognitive scientists Antonio Damasio who insists that “emotion is not the opposite of reason; it’s essential to reason. Emotions assign value to things.”  “Furthermore,” Brooks writes, “emotions tell you what to pay attention to, care about and remember. It’s hard to work through difficulty if your emotions aren’t engaged.  Information is plentiful, but motivation is scarce.

“. . . a key job of a school is to give students new things to love — an exciting field of study (AND) new friends (AND MENTORS). . . what teachers really teach is themselves — their contagious passion for their subjects and students. . .  children learn from people they love, and that love in this context means willing the good of another and offering active care for the whole person.”

Feeling cared about is essential for life as well as learning. That’s good instruction for all of us in addressing our relationships with family, friend and foe.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Wedding at Cana is Jesus’ response to Mary, his mother, when she asks him to attend to the lack of wine at the celebration:  “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”  This remark has puzzled scholars for centuries, especially in the older translation:  “Woman, what does this concern of yours have to do with me?”  It sounds abrupt, uncaring, dismissive.  It didn’t help that  Jesus’ words were closely linked to a popular Aramaic and Ancient Greek phrase “What have you to do with me?” –a phrase indicating someone is intruding on one’s private business, as if Jesus didn’t want to be bothered. And by his mother no less!  Some scholars reflected that this interpretation was justified in that Jesus was always in communion with the Father.  However, Jesus came to earth to extend that communion with the Father to the world.  For Him and for us, the relationship with God could not be privatized, must not be privatized to the point it disregards or impairs our relationship with others. 

Happily, Current Ecumenical scholarship now emphasizes a more nuanced translation of this difficult phrase: It translates Jesus’ question as “What is this to me and to you?” meaning i.e. How does this request engage Jesus and Mary in what they both are supposed to be about; the ways they are to live?  The answer = how is this related to their TRUST in God!  In other words, it is God’s timing, not theirs to which they must defer.

In his humanity, Jesus did not sense the time for his public manifestation was to begin.  Yet he knew  he must always defer his humanity to God the Father.  Therefore, he decides to follow Mary’s inspiration placing himself and the situation in God’s hands.  Surprise! The time was now.  The time is NOW.  (It always is for, as Jesus will proclaim frequently throughout his ministry—the kingdom of God is at hand!)  With trust in God, Mary instigates Jesus’ first mission without any further discernment, saying to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” 

What wondrous love is this?  What confidence in God’s benevolence? In God’s munificence! Only someone who trusts that God cares for him or her, only one who feels he or she is known and understood, only one who knows he or she is loved has the confidence to look out for the needs of others.  Mary’s directions to the servers, “do whatever he tells you,” is her act of faith that she is loved and cared for by Jesus, echoing the words of the people to Moses at Sinai as he delivered them the TEN COMMANDMENTS: “everything the Lord has spoken we will do”  for they knew they were cared for having been led out of slavery from Egypt. Thus, Mary’s FAITH puts Jesus’ miracle into action.  And may we remind ourselves how FAITH is the necessary overture for all the miracles that occur throughout the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles and even the miracles, both great and small, that happen today.  Note, too, how Faith builds upon Faith; one good example sets the stage for greater goodness: Mary’s trust inspires the SERVENTS to fittingly follow Jesus’ direction.  This, in turn, becomes an inspiring example to the disciples.  No wonder Mary was and forever will be the preeminent Apostle, the first and foremost disciple.

May we take this lesson home with us today: Faith and Trust in God brought The Wedding Feast to its fulfillment.  This  Word and Eucharist is here to enrich us in that same Blessed Assurance:  We, too, are known, loved, cared for.  After all, Jesus is the BEST TEACHER—is He not? Indeed! With Love for us beyond all telling. Remember JOY is the outcome at this Wedding Feast.  And with trust in HIM, that JOY will sustain us in good times and in bad, at weddings and at funerals, at work and at home today, tomorrow and on to the future.  We only need to trust.  We merely must believe!

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading Excerpts:

 Is 62:1-5

No more shall people call you “Forsaken, “
or your land “Desolate, “
but you shall be called “My Delight, “
and your land “Espoused.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10

R. (3) Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.

Reading 2 1 Cor 12:4-11

Brothers and sisters:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom;
to another, the expression of knowledge according to the
same Spirit;
to another, faith by the same Spirit;
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another, mighty deeds;
to another, prophecy;
to another, discernment of spirits;
to another, varieties of tongues;
to another, interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these,
distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

Gospel Jn 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servers,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told the them,
“Fill the jars with water.”
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
“Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
— although the servers who had drawn the water knew —,
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
“Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now.”
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.

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