2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

FR TONY'S HOMILYRCIA LESSONSFAITH FORMATION LESSONS
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LOVE AMONG THE RUINS – 1975 (2:30) The film earned six Emmys. George Cukor, the director, Katharine Hepburn, and Sir Laurence Olivier all won Emmy awards. Music by the brilliant John Barry. This is one of the greatest films tv or theatrical ever made.

The Best is Yet to Come

The conventional wisdom is that every homily should begin with a story to capture the congregation’s attention and to introduce the theme. Here is one example. Visit Fr. Tony’s website for a whole lot more. 

Fr. Tony’s Eight Minute Homilies

In a drama written for television entitled Love Among the Ruins, Lawrence Olivier and Katharine Hepburn star as two old friends who were childhood sweethearts forty years ago. Still a single man, Lawrence Olivier is now a prominent lawyer near the age of retirement. Katharine Hepburn is now a widow who comes by chance to Olivier’s office for some legal help. Their old romance flares up again, and this time Olivier gets enough courage to ask Hepburn to marry him. To convince her to say ‘yes’ he quotes these verses from Robert Browning’s poetry: “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be. The last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hands.”

This television drama about love and marriage, and about “the best is yet to be,” throws some light on today’s Gospel story about the wedding feast at Cana. In his book, John: The Different Gospel, Fr. Michael Taylor points out that, unlike the other evangelists, John calls Jesus’ works of wonder signs instead of miracles. John does this because these miracles reveal in a visible way the inner spiritual identity of Jesus. Further, the other symbol in the Cana story, The Old Testament, symbolized by the water, is not being cast aside; it is being transformed by Jesus into something better –- the new wine of the New Testament. Indeed, this hour that has finally come is the best that is to be in human history because it is characterized by the abundance and excellence of God’s glory being revealed in Jesus (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds).


Central Theme of the Readings

This week we are at a wedding in Cana where Jesus reveals Divine power by transforming water into wine. The Bible begins with one wedding, that of Adam and Eve in the garden (Gn 2:23-24), and ends with another, the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rv 19:9, 21:9, 22:17). At CanaJesus also blesses human marriage, perhaps at that moment instituting the Sacrament of Matrimony. Throughout the Bible, marriage is the symbol of the Covenant relationship between God and His chosen people. God is the faithful Bridegroom and humanity is His beloved bride. Let us pray for God’s daily miracles in our families.


Scripture Readings Summarized

First Reading

We see this theme beautifully presented in today’s first reading, where Isaiah uses the metaphor of spousal love to describe God’s love for Israel. God’s fidelity to his people is compared to a husband’s fidelity to his wife.Isaiah predicts God’s salvation of Jerusalem after the return of the Babylonian exiles and visualizes it as a wedding between God and Jerusalem. Jesus’ provision of abundant wine for the wedding feast in Cana signifies that the day foreseen by Isaiah has arrived. Anticipating the joy of this wedding, the Psalmist urges us in the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 96),” Sing to the Lord a new song.”

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Additional insights on the Gospel from Fr. Tony

There is a clear connection between the First Reading (Isaiah 62:1-5) and the Gospel (John 2:1-11), by way of the marriage imagery used in both cases. In today’s wedding scene, the abundance of new wine provided miraculously by Jesus is a sign that points to Christ’s Divinity. Abundance is a traditional symbol for God’s salvation, which Jesus brings, as indicated in the miracle Jesus performed. The underlying message is that Jesus is replacing a Jewish purification ritual; from that point on, cleansing from sin would take place through Jesus , the Lamb of God.

The reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah also suggests one possible meaning for Jesus’ first sign at Cana. Here, Isaiah predicts God’s salvation of Jerusalem and visualizes it as a wedding between God and Jerusalem. After reminding the exiles who have returned from Babylon that their forced departure from their homeland and subsequent detainment in Babylon was the just punishment for their disobedience to God, Isaiah gives them the assurance that their God is now wholly with them. Through their infidelities, the Chosen People and their land earned the names “Forsaken” and “Desolate” (v. 4). But God is a faithful Partner and offers His Bride a vision of restoration. Forgiven and rehabilitated, Israel will be restored to her status as the espoused and beloved of God. Israel, who has been scorned and mocked by the nations will be called Hephzibah (My Delight) and Beulah (Espoused). Jesus’ provision of abundant wine for the wedding feast in Cana (120 to 180 gallons of it), signifies that the day foreseen by Isaiah has arrived. By our Baptism, each of us has been betrothed to Christ as a bride to her Bridegroom (see II Cor. 11:2).


Second Reading

In today’s second reading, St. Paul reminds us that the new wine that Jesus pours out for us is the gift of the Holy Spirit, given to His Bride.

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Additional insights on the Gospel from Fr. Tony

Paul reminds the members of the Corinthian community that each of them is endowed by the Holy Spirit with distinctive gifts. The Holy Spirit gives each of them particular gifts—special to them—for the benefit of the others, and all point to the glory of Jesus and Jesus’ Heavenly Father. Since the Holy Spirit is the very Life of God, the outpouring of the Spirit and His charisms upon us who believe in Jesus is a participation in the Life of God.

In addition, each gift has been given for the sake and well-being of others in the family of believers, and in order to bear witness to God’s power and glory. There are many gifts but only one Giver; there are different gifts but only one goal, i.e., the common good of the whole believing community. Paul reminds us that “to each person is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:6), not for personal profit. Hence, we must use our gifts to build up, protect and nourish the ties that bind us in Christ, because we are united to God as in a marital relationship. Espoused to God, we are bound also to one another, much as “in-laws” are interlinked through loving familial bonds. In the context of today’s Gospel report of the wedding at Cana Paul is telling spouses to accept each other, just as they are, as God’s gifts, to each other.


Gospel

In today’s Gospel, John describes the first of the seven “signs’ by which Jesus showed forth His Divinity. When the wine “ran short,” Jesus’ Mother told Jesus about it. At first Jesus seemed to refuse to do anything about it. But later he told the servants to fill six large stone jars with water and take some of the miraculous water-made-wine to the headwaiter. When they did so, the headwaiter expressed his surprise that such a great wine had been reserved for late use.

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Additional insights on the Gospel from Fr. Tony

The setting for the miracle:

Christ’s first miracle, which John refers to as a “sign,” takes place in the village of Cana in Galilee, the hometown of the disciple Nathaniel but an otherwise insignificant town, located some eight miles northeast of Nazareth. This miracle is the first in John’s series of seven signs by which Jesus manifested Divine power and glory during public ministry.

Presumably, the “disciples” who accompanied Jesus were Andrew, Simon Peter, Zebedee’s sons James and John, Philip, and Nathaniel. Jesus’ mother Mary was also present. Joseph is not mentioned in the story; he may well have died already. It is also possible that Mary was in some way related to the bride or groom and may have been serving as an assistant to the wedding director.

According to a version recounted in the Coptic Gospels, the bridegroom was Simon of Cana, Jesus’ disciple and the brother of Jacob and Judah. He was the son of Joseph’s brother Cleophas (Helpai) and Mary’s elder sister, and, hence, the nephew of both Mary and Joseph. Such weddings usually began on Wednesdays with the celebration lasting for seven days. During this period, guests arrived each day bringing gifts and participating in the joy of the occasion.

In verse 3, we read that, in the course of the celebration, “the wine ran short.” This was a difficult situation for the young couple, and may indicate that they came from poor families. Among the Jews of that time, wine was not only considered a staple food item, but was also frequently used in times of celebration. To run short of wine at a wedding feast was certainly a serious problem, particularly damaging to the reputation of the host and an ill omen for the newly-married couple.

Mary’s intervention:

When Mary pointed out the problem to Jesus, the reply seems, on the surface, to be a bit sharp. This, however, is to misunderstand the passage. Although Jesus addressed his mother as “Woman” or “Dear Woman,” the term was roughly equivalent to our word “lady” or “madam”, and was not, in itself, unnecessarily harsh. It was, in fact, a term of respect and is the same word Jesus used in addressing Mary from the cross, saying of John, “Woman, behold your Son.”

Besides, by calling her “woman,” Our Lord is linking the Blessed Virgin Mary to Eve. In the Protoevangelium in Genesis, God revealed that the demonic serpent would be defeated by the seed of the woman. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel. (Gn 3:15).

Jesus’ next words are also easily misunderstood. He asked Mary, “What is it to Me. and to you?” This implies no rudeness on Jesus’ part. Probably, it means, “We are guests, and guests are not expected to supply the things needed at a feast.”

Jesus further protested, “My hour has not yet come,” The “hour” of Jesus includes the Passion, death, Resurrection and Ascension taken as one great event. In spite of Jesus’ detachment from the problem, Mary instructs the waiters, “Do whatever He tells you,” showing Faith that her Son would do what the newlyweds and their families really needed. The Church uses the account of this miracle to remind us that, by virtue of her position as the Mother of God and our Heavenly Mother, Mary’s intercession for us with God has great power.

Symbolic meaning of the miracle as seen by the Fathers of the Church: 

The love of God is manifested at its most powerful in the love between husband and wife, in sacramental marriage, that is, in a marriage in which Christ is the always-present Wedding Guest. As ministers of the marriage Sacrament, husbands and wives, in their love for one another, mirror for all of us the great love of God in our midst. The symbols used and their meaning:

1) The fruit of the vine is used in the Old Testament as an emblem of the joy associated with the Messianic age, and as a gift and blessing from God (Dt 7:13; Prv 3:10, Ps 105). The water in the jars represents the old order of Jewish law and custom (Jer 31:12, Hos 14:7, Amos 9:13), which was to be replaced with something better, namely Jesus’ sweet and inspiring Gospel.

2) The fact that the abundant wine (120 gallons) provided by Christ was of such superior quality and taste also reveals the glory, satisfaction, sufficiency, and lavishness of the grace Divine Life), He provides for sinners. Since it is God Who provides, we will lack nothing; however, to receive this gift from Him, we must be emptied, giving all we have to Him. This is an anticipation of the “Wedding Supper of the Lamb,” in Heaven where God will give us every good thing forever. Indeed, the Catechism tells us that Heaven is “wholly communion and feast”. There are three steps found in the text which lead us to the sufficiency of Christ: a) Ask God for help (v 3). b) Obey His commands (vv 7-8). c) Expect Him to be glorified as He provides (v 11).

3) Mary’s comments,They have no wine” (v. 3) and “Do whatever He tells you” (v. 5), can be understood as a reflection on the barrenness of the Jewish purification rituals, and as a directive to look to Jesus as the new means of salvation.

4)The new wine made by Jesus signifies the “new rich wine” of the Gospel, and it points to the “wine of the New Covenant” and the “Bread of Life” which Jesus provides for the apostles at the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist. The wine that Jesus had to offer, i.e., Jesus’ words and works, was far superior to any other teaching or wisdom. This first sign is the manifestation of the grace and truth that has come through Jesus Christ (Jn 1:17), and serves as a summons to all of us to join in the celebration. This sign also points to the Messianic banquet which Jesus will provide at the end of the age when He comes again in glory.

He Has Kept the Best Wine to Last: In today’s reading Isaiah looks for signs of God’s full restoration of Israel as God’s people. In the Old Testament wine was often used as a sign or symbol of the gifts of God. The Book of Proverbs speaks of Lady Wisdom providing good wine for those who follow her, and the prophets often speak of good wine as a characteristic of the Messianic kingdom promised by God. John’s Gospel reflects that image by using the gift of the best wine as the first miracle of Jesus’ public life. Just as Jesus gave wine as a gift to the newlyweds, so Jesus gives us gifts. St Paul tells us that God gives each of us different gifts so that we, too, can be signs of God’s goodness and love when we use our gifts according to His will and for the good of others. The Church sees in the Cana miracle the confirmation of the goodness of marriage between a man and a woman and sees marriage between a man and a woman as an effective sign of Christ’s presence (CCC #1613).


Life messages

Choose AS MANY AS TIME ALLOWS

1) Invite Jesus and Mary to remain with us in our homes

The spouses need Jesus and Mary when their dreams are gone, mutual love seems dried up, the relationship becomes boring, and raising the children becomes a burden draining all their energy. The awareness of the presence of Jesus and Mary in the family will encourage parents to create an atmosphere of prayer, Bible-reading, mutual love, and respect, with a spirit of forgiveness and sacrificial service at home. This change will refresh and renovate family life, removing its boredom.

2) “Do whatever He tells you.

This is the only recorded command given by Mary in the New Testament, and it is a prerequisite for miracles in our families. The Bible tells us how to do the will of God and effect salvific changes in our daily lives. 3) Just as Jesus filled the empty water jars with wine, let us fill the empty hearts around us with love. By the miracle of Cana, Jesus challenges us also to enrich the empty lives of those around us with the new wine of love, mercy, concern, and care. 4) Let us learn to appreciate the miracles of God’s providence in our lives. God, often as an uninvited guest in our families, works daily miracles in our lives by protecting us from physical and moral dangers, providing for our needs, inspiring us, and strengthening us with His Holy Spirit. Let us also appre, where God transforms our offering of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus.

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Additional insights on the Gospel from Fr. Tony

3) We need to learn to appreciate the miracles of God’s providence in our lives. God, often as an uninvited guest in our families, works daily miracles in our lives, protecting us from physical and moral dangers, providing for our needs, inspiring us, and strengthening us with His Holy Spirit.

4) Just as Jesus filled the empty water jars with wine, we need to fill the empty hearts around us with love. By the miracle of Cana, Jesus challenges us to enrich the empty lives of those around us with the new wine of love, mercy, concern and care.

5) We need to appreciate the miracle of the Real Presence of the Lord on the altar. The same Jesus, Who transformed water into wine at Cana, transforms our gifts of bread and wine into Jesus’ own Body and Blood, Soul, and Divinity, under the appearances of consecrated bread and wine, in order to give us spiritual nourishment. If our families have lost the savor of mutual love, let us renew them at the altar with the invigorating power of the Holy Spirit.

End of homily

Jokes of the Week

At the end of Mass, some priests like to offer a joke to their parishioners. Please be sensitive though to particular circumstances or concerns. Some Jokes may not be suitable for particular times, placeS, OR CONGREGATIONS. 

CHOOSE ONE

1) “Then why did you marry my mother?” Little Tommy was so impressed by his oldest sister’s wedding that he announced. “I want to have a wedding just like Linda had.” “That sounds great,” said his father. “But whom will you marry?” Tommy announced: “I want to marry grandma because she loves me and I love her.” “You can’t marry grandma,” his father said. “Why not?” Tommy protested. “Because she is my mother.” ”Well,” reasoned Tommy. “Then why did you marry my mother?”

2) Whisky: A Congressman was once asked about his attitude toward whiskey. “If you mean the demon drink that poisons the mind, pollutes the body, desecrates family life, and inflames sinners, then I’m against it. But, if you mean the elixir of Christmas cheer, the shield against
winter chill, the taxable potion that puts needed funds into public coffers to comfort little crippled children, then I’m for it. This is my position, and I will not compromise.”

3) The same service? A man who had been a husband for ten years was consulting a marriage counselor. “When I was first married, I was very happy. When I came home from a hard day at the shop, my little dog would race around barking and my wife would bring me my slippers with a heart-warming smile. Now after all these years everything is changed. Now when I come home, my dog brings me my slippers and my wife barks at me.” “I don’t know what you are complaining about,” said the counselor. “You are still getting the same service.”

4) Countdown! One woman asked the other, “You were always my first marriage was to a millionaire; my second marriage was to an actor; my third marriage was to a preacher; and now I’m married to an undertaker.” Asked the friend, “What do those marriages have to do with a well-planned life?” “The first marriage was for the money, the second for the show, the third to get ready and the fourth to go!”

Fr. Tony started his homily ministry (Scriptural Homilies) in 2003 while he was the chaplain at Sacred Heart residence, applying his scientific methodology to the homily ministry. By word of mouth, it spread to hundreds of priests and Deacons, finally reaching Vatican Radio website (http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html). Fr. Tony’s homilies reach nearly 3000 priests and Deacons by direct email every week.

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