January 17, 2016 — Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Last week we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord. That feast day represents an ending and a beginning. It was, of course, the end of the Christmas season. However, it was also the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, as well as the beginning of what we call “ordinary time” in the Church. Thus, since endings and beginnings sometimes overlap, this Sunday is actually the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Our readings this week not only mark the beginning of Christ’s public ministry, but they also contain some vivid stewardship imagery and meanings. The First Reading from the Prophet Isaiah extols God’s love for us. Isaiah compares that unconditional love to the feelings of a bridegroom toward his bride. The underlying idea which we must grasp is that if God rejoices because of us, we in turn need to rejoice in service to the Lord and to others. That is, after all, the joy which comes from stewardship — the joy of serving others without thought of a return.
St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, from which our Second Reading is drawn, was most likely written from Ephesus while Paul was there for an extended period of time. Although Ephesus is some 250 miles from Corinth, there were many travelers between the two cities, so most likely Paul was kept apprised of situations and happenings in the Church in Corinth. With concerns about the Corinthians returning to previous practices and drifting from the Church, Paul wrote this letter, and the content reflects his apprehensions and his advice.
What St. Paul says to the Corinthians in this reading could also be applied to our understanding of what stewardship really is. With a stewardship awareness, Paul states, “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.” We are all gifted in different ways, but regardless the gifts and the ways we are gifted, Paul makes it clear that all comes from God. When we reach that insight, we are well on our way to a stewardship way of life.
As mentioned, this early Sunday in Ordinary Time, through the Gospel of John, introduces us to what is in effect Jesus’ first miracle at the Wedding Feast in Cana. This occurrence is only reported in the Gospel of St. John, but imagine the emotions at play. The Lord is there having a good time like everyone else. Our Blessed Mother is probably watching Him and remembering all that has happened, from His birth and development to now. St. Mary knew and knows that He is the Son of God.
There are not many direct quotes from the Blessed Mother in scripture, but two of the more noteworthy ones are in this Gospel. Mary tells Jesus simply, “They are out of wine.” Jesus, her son but also the Son of God, responds “My hour has not yet come.” The loving Mother, who knows her Son well probably smiles in a knowing way, and merely says to those around, “Do whatever he tells you.” She knows that His time has indeed come; His work is just beginning. Jesus, of course, provides the wine through a miracle with which we are well familiar.
We tend to make our lives much more complex than may be necessary. It may be as simple as us understanding, as St. Paul indicates, that God is in control. Then, although it is not always simple or easily understood, we need to “do whatever He tells us.” God loves us; we need to rejoice in that and love in return. We are each gifted with many wonderful gifts. Now all we have to do is to do what God tells us over and over: love one another.