Sunday, January 17, 2010

Proclaim His Marvelous Deeds To All The Nations!

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I             Isaiah 62:1-5
For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her vindication shines forth like the dawn
and her victory like a burning torch.

Nations shall behold your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
you shall be called by a new name
pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,
a royal diadem held by your God.

No more shall people call you “Forsaken,"
or your land “Desolate,"
but you shall be called “My Delight,"
and your land “Espoused.”

For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.


Today’s First Reading is a short poem about the city of Jerusalem. It seems as if the copy editor of the Book of Consolation (chapters 40-55) picked this poem off the floor of the Editorial Room, and decided it ought to be included somewhere in the Scriptures. So he placed here, as one of the final chapters in the Book of Isaiah. In fact, when this poem was composed, the city of Jerusalem had been leveled to the ground, Solomon’s temple had been destroyed, “not a stone left upon a stone”, and the people of Israel had been carried off into exile. Still, the Servant continues to remind the LORD of his promise, and prays that he will soon fulfill it.

When that day comes, other nations will witness Israel’s vindication, and observe her glory. The city of Zion will receive a new name from the LORD, a name befitting a queen. For Jerusalem will be a crown in the Lord’s hand, a royal city, the dwelling place of kings. Yet, these places are not for the benefit of Israel alone, for God’s realm extends to all the nations of the world, which is why God is called “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords”.

In Verse 4, the names “Forsaken” and “Desolate” reflect what the inhabitants of Jerusalem – and all of Judah – thought of themselves. Whether they were exiled in Babylon, or among the remnant who remained in the city, they felt that the LORD had abandoned them. The enemy had ruined the land, and left it empty of crops and of fruit trees.

But the LORD is about to change that situation completely. The prophet/poet uses new names to describe the new relationship between God and his people. The city of Zion will be called Hephzibah (my delight), and the land of Judah will be named Beulah (espoused), for God is delighted with her, and makes the land his spouse. He who builds (the Creator) will marry Zion as a young man marries a maiden; as a bridegroom takes delight in his bride, so God will rejoice in the people he has chosen to be his own.

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Responsorial        Psalm 96
Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!
Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Worship the LORD in holy attire.
Tremble before him, all the earth;
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He governs the peoples with equity.
Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.

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Reading II           1 Corinthians 12:4-11
Brothers and sisters:
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.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.

To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom;
to another, the expression of knowledge
according to the same Spirit;
to another, faith by the same Spirit;
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another, mighty deeds;
to another, prophecy;
to another, discernment of spirits;
to another, varieties of tongues;
to another, interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these,
distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.


In today’s Second Reading, Paul has two purposes: to emphasize the unity of God’s church, and to demonstrate that within the Church there are different gifts which are not just for the benefit of the one who has received the gift, but for the benefit of the whole church. Paul speaks of the Lord (verse 5), of God (verse 6), and of the Holy Spirit (verse 7) as the source of all these gifts. He does not mean that different gifts have different origins; all of them are given by the Triune God: Father and Creator; Son and Redeemer; Holy Spirit, source of grace and blessing.

In the next part of the reading, Paul gives a list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, through whom all good things come. The list is not intended to be complete; there are similar lists that mention other gifts (1 Corinthians 12:28-30; Romans 12:6-8). This list includes nine examples, which scholars tend to catalogue in different groups:

1. gifts of wisdom and knowledge:
Paul begins with these gifts because the people of Corinth emphasized them. By “wisdom”, Paul means that we understand God’s plan of salvation through Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit, and with the Spirit, we speak of God’s plan to others. At the same time, the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts, teaching us what God is like, and then we can share the knowledge of spiritual truth with others.

2. faith, power to heal, miracles :
“Faith”: This word expresses belief and confidence which the Holy Spirit gives. A person who has faith believes that God will show his power or his mercy in particular situations. Elijah, on Mount Carmel, had such faith (cf. 1 Kings 18). Missionaries who preach the gospel in foreign lands, Religious congregations that found schools and colleges have faith that their missions will be fruitful, and God will supply their needs, both for sustenance and for learned and wise teachers.

“Power to heal”: The book of Acts shows that the early apostles healed the sick in the name and with the power of Jesus (Acts 3:6). In our day, God continues to heal the sick, through faith and prayer, and also through doctors and medical discoveries.

“Miracles”: This would include the power to heal through the intercession of the saints, and other extraordinary works of power, such as the exorcism of evil spirits.

3. Prophecy:
By prophecy, Paul means a message give by the Holy Spirit, whose purpose is to call people to live according to God’s ways. Like the prophets of the Old Testament, a Christian who has this gift can warn those who are not obeying God’s will, urge them to change their ways, and show them the behaviour God expects from his children.

4. The discernment of spirits:
The Holy Spirit assists members of the church who possess this gift to distinguish between those spirits that speak the truth and those that do not.

5. The gift of tongues and the power to explain their meaning:
‘Tongues" are sounds spoken in no known human language. Others cannot understand what the speaker is saying to praise God. There must be someone with a special gift to explain the meaning. It seems that the Christians at Corinth emphasised this gift very much.

All of the gifts that Paul has mentioned are the work of God’s Spirit. The Holy Spirit decides what gift or gifts each Christian should have. He gives them to help all the Christians to work together, so that they can spread God’s word and increase God’s Kingdom.

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Gospel               John 2:1-11
There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servers,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told them,
“Fill the jars with water.”
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
“Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
— although the servers who had drawn the water knew —,
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
“Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now.”
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.


Weddings are very special occasions in our times, and so they were in Jesus’ time. After the religious ceremony in the synagogue, the bridegroom’s family and the guests gathered for a party that continued for several days, often for a full week, eating, drinking and making merry together. But, if the supplies began to run out before the party ended, the bridegroom’s family felt great shame, as it was their duty to provide an abundant supply of food and drink.

Mary, mother of Jesus, was an honored guest at this wedding, and was likely a member of the groom’s family. She may have had some responsibility for the banquet arrangements, since she appears to have kept a sharp eye on the beverage supply, and to have some authority over the wait staff.

It seems likely that Joseph, the husband of Mary, had already passed from this world, which would explain why Jesus, at the age of thirty, was still living in his mother’s home. As the only son, it was his duty to look after his widowed mother. Mary seems confident that Jesus will help her to provide more wine, so that the festivities can continue, and the bridegroom and his bride would not be embarrassed. So, she says simply to her son, "They have no wine."

Jesus, on the other hand, has other things on his mind. His answer, “My time has not yet come” might refer to the time he would begin his public ministry; or it might refer to his crucifixion and death, by which his mission would be accomplished. Still, Mary was sure that her Son would do as she requested, and her instruction to the wait staff was “Do whatever he tells you.”

John, last of the evangelists to compose his gospel, is not writing only for the benefit of the Jews, but also for the benefit of the Gentiles. This is why he mentions the water jars. The Jews always washed their feet before entering a home or a synagogue, and their hands before they reclined at table at mealtime. In the banquet hall vestibule, there were six large water jars, each holding twenty to thirty gallons, for a total of between 120 and 180 gallons. Jesus told the serving staff to fill the jars, and they filled them to the brim. That would surely keep the party going for quite some time!

Jesus then told them: “Draw some out and take it to the maitre d’." He tasted it, and went directly to the groom with a complaint: “Usually the best wine is served first, and only when everyone has drunk freely the cheaper wine. But you have saved the best wine for now!”

The miracle at Cana reveals three traits of Jesus: He speaks with authority, he has power over nature, and wonderful things happen when people listen to him.

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