Studying God’s Word

Isaiah 62:1-5 • 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 • John 2:1-11 [66C]

Today begins a short stretch of four Sundays in ordinary time. The four Gospel readings cover the early stages of Jesus’ public ministry. Because we are in Year C, most of the Gospel readings in ordinary time are taken from Luke. One exception is today’s reading from the Gospel of John. The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, in fact, is taken each year from John. Today we hear about the wedding feast at Cana where Jesus performs his first sign, turning water into wine. The first reading today is taken from the last section of the Book of Isaiah (chapters 56–66) often termed “Third Isaiah.” Isaiah proclaims he cannot be silenced until Israel (Zion and Jerusalem) is pardoned. Offering words of comfort to Israel in the wake of their nearly seventy years in exile, Isaiah speaks of Israel’s “vindication”; that is, Israel being freed from the sin that led them into captivity in Babylon. Isaiah prophecies the “glory” of God is being revealed in bestowing upon Israel a “new name.” No longer known as “Forsaken” or “Desolate,” Israel, according to Isaiah, will be called “My Delight” and the land of Jerusalem, “Espoused.” Isaiah pronounced to the returning exiles that “nations shall behold your vindication and all the kings your glory.”   The image of Israel being God’s delight and in some sense espoused to God is captured in the Gospel reading of the wedding feast at Cana. In John, Jesus’ turning the water into wine is the first of seven signs that Jesus performs, which reveal God’s “glory” and points to his divine identity as “the Word made flesh” (Jn 1:14). At the wedding reception, when Mary saw that the wedding party had run out of wine early, she brought the problem to Jesus’ attention. Interestingly, according to John, Jesus is somewhat reluctant to perform a sign at this wedding since his “hour has not yet come.” (The coming hour in John’s Gospel is a metaphor for Jesus’ approaching passion). Nonetheless, Jesus honors Mary’s request and turns the standing water (“six stone water jars… each holding twenty to thirty gallons”) into wine. With over one hundred twenty gallons of wine, this must have been a sizable wedding. John concludes the story by commenting that the water turned to wine in Cana was “the beginning of his signs” and “revealed his glory” to the disciples. Witnessing this first sign, “his disciples began to believe in hm.” As Isaiah had prophesied nearly five hundred years earlier, all the nations would behold God’s glory revealed in Israel. The second reading is taken from the twelfth chapter of the First Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul is discussing the various spiritual gifts that serve to unite the community of believers. From 1 Corinthians 12 we derive the idea of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Among the numerous concerns that Paul had for the Christian congregation in Corinth was the divisions between the community members (see chapters 1–4). Paul saw an opportunity to find unity in the congregation by holding up the many gifts of the Spirit evident in their gatherings: the divine gifts of knowledge, faith, healing, prophecy, and speaking and interpreting tongues. Paul stressed that in these different gifts there was the same Spirit at work.  Rather than the differences being a source of division, Paul urged the Corinthians to see their diversity as a source of unity. Over the next four Sundays, we will hear about the beginning stage of Jesus’ public ministry. In Jesus, the prophecies are fulfilled and the glory of God is revealed.

Dr. Daniel J. Scholz