Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jan. 17
John 2: 1-11
Today’s Gospel tells the story or perhaps a parable of the Wedding Feast at Cana where Jesus performed his first public miracle, the turning of a large quantity of water into wine at a wedding feast. It is somewhat mysterious that none of the synoptic Gospels record this event. It is found only in John’s Gospel and it is the first of seven “signs” or “wondrous deeds” found in his Gospel that show Jesus’ Divine nature. The Gospel of John is built around these seven signs. For your information, they are: the wedding feast at Cana in chapter 2, the curing of the royal official’s son in chapter 4, the cure of the paralytic at the pool in chapter 5, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes in chapter 6, walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee in chapter 6, and raising Lazarus from the dead in chapter 11.
Cana was a small town a short distance to the north east of Nazareth. We really don’t know if this miracle really happened or not. Taking this miracle in its allegorical sense, it could revolve around the words of the headwaiter: “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when the people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This would make the “new” wine symbolic of the new world with the coming of the Messiah. In other words, it is like saying: the Messiah has finally come and now things are going to be better for the whole world. You have had good wine to drink and from now on you are going to drink even better wine. The really good stuff has been saved until the last.
Jesus himself, the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, is the good wine. He has come to make all things new: “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold new things have come.” (2Cor. 5: 17). And Isaiah in his 25th chapter speaks of the rich, choice, sweet wine that is symbolic of the Messianic age. The new wine is the wine of love, caring, compassion, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, service to others, happiness, peace and joy that come with Christ. Let us all feel free to drink of this choice wine.
Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time, Jan. 18
Mark 2: 18-22
“Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”
The Greek word nebel means a container, including the translations “pitchers,” “bottles,” “skin,” and “jar.” There are many references in Scripture to bottles (literally “skins”) of wine (ISam. 1:24; 10:3; 25:18). A wineskin can be literally a bag that is made from the skin of an animal that is used for holding wine. We used to have a couple of these floating around that we used when we went cross country skiing. My point with all this rambling on here about wineskins is: why can’t we ourselves be allegorically referred to as wineskins since we are the ones who drink, hold, contain, the “new wine,” the Christ who is the way, the truth and the life. In order to hold the new wine and keep from bursting, we have to be “new skins” that will expand with the gas or the power of the new wine. If we are old skins, we must become new to hold the teachings of the Christ. We must be able to change our old attitudes to hold the “new wine,” the new teachings of Christ.
What attitudes do I find in myself (for example regarding prejudices, dislikes, resentments, etc.) that are unable to hold the new ideas of equality, love of even my enemies, and forgiveness taught by Christ? What do I have to change in order to become a new wineskin?
Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time, Jan. 19
Mark 2: 23-28
Once again in today’s Gospel selection, the Pharisees see Jesus and his disciples violating the laws of the Sabbath. Mark again takes this opportunity to show Jesus’ teaching on the Sabbath. Again, Jesus refuses to place a “thing,” a day, ahead of people. Jesus always prefers people over things. I once was told that it is abnormal and irresponsible to prefer things over people. Many of us do this when it comes to our personal time or work. How many times have we said: This is “my” time for my own use right now. I can’t be bothered with your interests right now. Or how many times have we said to someone, particularly our children, “Can’t you see I’m busy now? Come back when I have finished my work.” I dare say we have all done this in one form or another and it is irresponsible behavior when we do.
Interruptions that place people above things are good. And we see this happening in the Gospel for today. Jesus answers the Pharisees: “The Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Do we hear ourselves phrasing it the other way occasionally?
Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time, Jan. 20
Mark 3: 1-6
After reading the Gospel chosen to be read in today’s Liturgy, I asked myself when I had last heard the word “wither” used in ordinary, everyday conversation. I decided I couldn’t even remember when. It really isn’t too common a word. The Gospel for today speaks of a man in the synagogue with a “withered” hand. I looked in my on-line dictionary to see the definitions for “withered” and found: shriveled, faded, decayed, dry. None of these meanings seem particularly applicable to a hand. Perhaps we could say in more modern lingo that the man in the Gospel was handicapped in the use of his hand.
If we do this, we can open the way for a bit of reflection on how we deal with the handicapped people we meet along the way of daily living, both the physically and the mentally handicapped. They are special people, beautiful people, but sometimes they are not treated as such by others. I was blessed with a developmentally handicapped brother who was God’s greatest gift ever to me. If you are looking for some people to be of assistance to, you might do well to look to volunteering your gifts and talents to helping these dear people. They will end up doing much more for you than you will ever accomplish for them. Want to bet?
Thursday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time, Jan. 21
Memorial of St. Agnes
Today the Church interrupts its ferial cycle to honor a Saint of the early church, St. Agnes. Agnes was born in Rome and died for her faith when she was only 13 years old. She must have been a real inspiration to the people of her time. It seems she was a very beautiful girl and had many suitors for marriage. Agnes, however, had dedicated herself to the service of God and chose Jesus as her spouse.
One young man, Procop by name, the Governor’s son, was bound and determined Agnes was going to be his wife. He lavished her with many gifts and promises if she would marry him, but still she refused. In order to get even with her for her refusals, Procop told his father that Agnes was a Christian. Then the father tried to get her to renounce Christ and her religion and when he failed to change her mind, he condemned her to death. Agnes was only too happy to die for the Lord Jesus and was eventually martyred by the sword.
St. Agnes, pray for us.
Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time, Jan. 22
Mark 3: 13-19
Today, January 22, marks the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, Roe vs. Wade, in 1973. Our Bishops ask that this day be observed in all the dioceses of the United States as a particular day of penance for the violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.
I think it is a good idea for each of us and our society as a whole to reflect on the dignity of the human person, not only once a year but every day of the year, if possible. Every day in our country and throughout the world, many acts contrary to the dignity of human life and the human person take place. It is getting to be downright absurd. I think a lot of this started with flaming idiots being given the right to carry guns with them all the time. If something comes up that displeases them, they start shooting. This results in drive-by shootings, killing others out of rage on the highways, random shootings that kill people the shooter didn’t even see or intend to harm, abrupt endings to arguments, and on and on and on.
Just the other day I read of a little 3 year old girl getting off a bus with her grandmother that was shot by a stray bullet in the hip. A year or so ago a little girl sitting in her own home at the kitchen table doing her homework was killed by a wayward bullet coming through the window. How senseless can you get? How stupid! And these are just two of millions of incidents happening every day. Let’s take a little time today to pray that somehow, someway, all of this ignorance in the world can lessen and we can all become more aware of the beautiful gift that God has given all of us in our human lives and the dignity and respect that should be due every human being.
Saturday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time, Jan. 23
Mark 3: 20-21
Today’s Gospel kind of ties in with what I was trying to say yesterday: Jesus’ way is thought to be insanity by many in our world today. To some, it is OK to shoot innocent people, to kill whoever gets in my way, to have abortions rather than to take time to help the handicapped, the poor, and the minorities of our society.
In the Gospel for today, Jesus’ family saw Jesus drawing such crowds that he and his disciples had not time even to eat. They tried to take charge of him, get him out of this situation, because they thought he was crazy. Many people who try to live spiritual lives today and put the values of Jesus to use are looked at as though there is something radically wrong with them. Mark Twain is reported to have said: Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority it’s time to pause and reflect. He is only trying to be funny, I hope. The majority of people in our country and world are God-fearing, spiritual, good people who are trying their best to make the world a better place in which to live. Let’s try and be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem.