January 16, 2022
by Mike Cherney
Creighton University's Physics Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 66

Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10
John 2:1-11

Praying Ordinary Time

The subject of the passage from Isaiah is God’s relationship to the Hebrews during the time following their exile in Babylon. The Psalm extolls the glory of the God of Israel. In the excerpt from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he considers the diversity of gifts of the Spirit. The Gospel is the familiar story of the wedding at Cana. Today’s readings start and end with a wedding theme - first comparing God’s relationship to God’s people to that of a couple and finishing with the story Jesus’ first miracle at the celebration of the covenant between a couple.

Why a wedding for Jesus’ first miracle? I have read a number of suggestions ranging from underscoring the importance of marriage to maintaining the family honor. (It is clear that Jesus’ family was intimately involved with the event based on His mother making the request for His intervention as well as His family traveling together with Him in the Gospel verse following today’s reading.) Others have even suggested that this was only His first public miracle. I like to think that the wedding at Cana sets the stage for Jesus’ public life. My sense is that rather than for drinking, the water vessels were there for ritual cleansing. I can imagine that Jesus is taking something related to prescribed actions and is repurposing it in terms of something that serves relationships. This is part of a pattern that I find recurring in the Gospels.

Today’s first reading leads me to infer that God is more opening the door to a relationship than serving as a judge. In the Psalm, I see God as a gift giver deserving of our gratitude rather than as a rule maker. Even Paul (who is not one known for being above passing judgment) has a more relationship-oriented message in today’s passage. I find myself drawn to St. Paul’s comment on the diversity of gifts. I think about how we are called to respond as recipients of God’s gifts. I am moved to consider the current labor market and the historically large number of people who are rethinking their role in the workplace. My wife and I are finding ourselves among the disproportionate number of people later in their lives who are reassessing how we can best serve in our remaining years. Finally, the Gospel may just be preparing us for the replacement of the Old Testament laws with the two great New Testament commandments based on relationships: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. My prayer today focusses on relationships.

Dear Lord,

As I age, I have the chance to reflect on what might be called a full life. I think back to how meeting my wife gave me the first real sense of what unconditional love could mean. This was insightful both in terms of human and spiritual relationships. I think about the excessive amount time and effort that I devoted to my career. I realize that by the time I was in my early-forties, I had accomplished the goals that I had set out for myself as young academic. Distracted by the tasks at hand, it took me that long to start to realize the full importance of relationships. Now in my early retirement I find that my wife is my joy, and my grandchildren are my purpose. Still, I feel undeserving of the many gifts that I have received. My wife and I find ourselves considering the direction of our relationship with the larger community.

Heavenly Father, I acknowledge Your benevolence throughout my life.

Divine Son, I recognize Your continuing call to service.

Holy Spirit, I ask for Your gift of wisdom in using what I have been given to sustain old and to develop new relationships.

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