2nd Sunday Year C
Theme of the week: As the loving husband of the people, Christ bestowed many gifts upon us. Let us do whatever he commands us and use these gifts to build the kingdom of God.
The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and its temple in 587BC; and took the best and brightest Israelites with them back to Babylon. The Israelites remained in exile until Cyrus the Persian king facilitated their return some fifty years later. This week’s First Reading was written at that time. Upon their return from the Babylonian exile, Jerusalem was in ruin and the people are in great need for encouragement. The reading prophesises a time when the Lord would once again take delight in the people, like a husband rejoices in his newly wedded bride. (See also Hosea, Rev 21:9-10) That is right, Christ takes delight in us as a husband takes delight in his newly wedded bride. Beyond expressing the delight of the Lord in us, this passage underscores a theological truth – that we the Church will be wedded to Christ on the Last Day, as explained in Rev 19:7 and 21:2.
God bestowed many gifts upon us His bride the Church. The Second Reading explains that, through the Holy Spirit, we as individual members of the Church are endowed with different gifts. We are obliged to not only discover what our gifts are but to use them to build the kingdom of God. As Jesus said, “No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light” (Lk 8:16). Never make the mistake of thinking the gifts we received are insignificant. As Paul explained in 1 Cor 12:12-27, we are the Body of Christ, each of us is an organ of that body performing a specific and important function.
Staying on the theme of marriage, the Gospel tells of the story of Jesus’ first miracle – that at the wedding at Cana. There are many signs and symbolism that one may take from this Gospel passage. In the Gospel of John, these miracles are called signs. This is because, beyond the immediate wonders they conveyed, signs point us to deeper truths about God. In brief, the significance of the signs at the wedding at Cana points us to Mary’s role in our salvation. Briefly,
- When Mary noticed a need of the people (they ran out of wine), she conveyed her concern to Jesus. Even though Jesus himself acknowledged that his hour has not yet come, he nevertheless performed the miracle upon the request of Mary. This affirms Mary’s intercessory role in conveying our prayers to the God.
- After she conveyed the people’s need, Mary instructed the servants to “do whatever he tells you” (verse 5). Mary’s instructions to the servants is addressed to us as well. Mary has never asked to be worshipped, rather she always leads us to her Son.
- Jesus’ unusual address of Mary as “woman” (verse 4) affirms Mary as the new Eve. By her disobedience, the first Eve brought upon the downfall of humankind. By her obedience (Lk 1:38) in bearing the Son of God, Mary the new Eve brought redemption upon the world.
- In Jewish tradition, the number six is an imperfect number. There were six stone jars, signifying imperfection. Upon Mary’s intervention and Jesus’ miracle, perfection was achieved – the jars were filled the best wine. Water that was used for the Jewish rites of purification was turned into wine. This symbolises the old order being replaced by the new.
Let us ask Mary to pray with us and for us, that we may find the grace and wisdom do whatever Christ commands us. Amen.