Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

New beginnings.  This is the promise of the New Year.  We bid farewell to the troubles of the previous year, and approach the new year in front of us fresh with enthusiasm and hope.  Our new year’s resolutions are a common expression of those new beginnings.  As we enter into Ordinary Time we appropriately focus on this idea of new beginnings with our readings for this Sunday…

Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
John 2:1-11

Our first reading is from Third, or Trito-Isaiah.  Here the followers of the original prophet Isaiah foretell of a new beginning for the people of Israel.  Their Exile in Babylon is over!  Israel’s sins have been expiated and her vindication will become a beacon to all the other nations.  Where God was once someone to be feared (as in the earlier Mosaic texts), He now seems giddy with delight over his people, so much so he refers to the people as his bridegroom.  Isaiah uses the marriage covenant as a way to describe this renewed relationship between God and his people.  A new beginning where the people of God will show the world God’s glory.  This glory of the Lord is reflected in our Psalm as we sing “Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.”  By turning back to the Lord, he has restored them as a nation.

Our gospel also speaks of a new beginning with the story of the wedding at Cana.  In a story unique to John’s Gospel, Jesus and his newly gathered disciples attend a wedding in Cana (another small town just a few miles north of Nazareth).  While the wedding itself is representative of a new beginning (for the couple being married), this story also marks a new beginning for Jesus… marking the beginning of his ministry with his first public miracle.  During the celebration Mary sees an opportunity for Jesus to take action when the wine begins to run out.  Though Jesus appears to be dismissive of Mary, he follows through by instructing the servers to fill the jugs with water and bring them to the head waiter.  Once they reach the head waiter, the water has become fine wine, leading his disciples to believe in him.

As we have now entered into Ordinary Time, our second reading does not necessarily correlate to our other readings.  Instead, we use this time to embark on an extended study of the Epistles, in this case, Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.  This week we hear a passage from chapter 12 (halfway through the letter) where Paul is explaining how we all have different gifts, but that all those gifts are from the same Spirit.  We cannot be all things to all people.  Instead, the Spirit has gifted each of us with certain talents and abilities, which in turn can be used to the service of the entire community.  For many of the new Christians in Corinth, this concept of living in “community” is a new idea… that we must learn to lean on each other in our service to the Gospel, and in turn, use those gifts in service to the community.  So in a way, it’s a new beginning for them as well.

Final Thoughts:
The Christian life is filled with new beginnings.  Our baptism is a new beginning… a rebirth into the community of the Church.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a new beginning, allowing us to put past sins behind us proceed with a fresh start.  Our readings this week also use a lot of marriage imagery.  Not only does this show us they type of relationship God is looking for with his people, but marriage itself is a new beginning for the couple embarking on their new vocation.  As we embark on this year of mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, we are reminded how we need to be a reflection of God’s great mercy here on Earth.  We need to be the facilitators of new beginnings.

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