FIRST READING (The bridegroom rejoices in his bride.)
A reading from the Book of the Prophet 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. —The Word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM (96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10)
R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations. (Ps 96:3)
Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all you lands. Sing to the Lord; bless his name. (R)
Announce his salvation, day after day. Tell his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his wondrous deeds. (R)
Give to the Lord, you families of nations, give to the Lord glory and praise; give to the Lord the glory due his name! (R)
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. (R)
SECOND READING (One and the same Spirit distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.)
A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians (12:4-11)
Brothers and sisters: There are different kinds of spiritual gift s 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, gift s 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. —The Word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.
GOSPEL ACCLAMATION (Cf. 2 Thes 2:14)
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God has called us through the Gospel to possess the glory
of our Lord Jesus Christ. (R)
GOSPEL (Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee.)
A reading from the holy Gospel according to 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. —The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 62: 1-5
1 Cor. 12: 4-11
John 2: 1-11
“My delight… my espoused”
One of the first impressions I had when I arrived at this parish nearly seven years ago was that this is almost a “wedding factory,” noting how the celebrated wedding bell and floral festoons around the church entry are one of the great hallmarks of our parish, noting also how many couples are married in our church each year, and our parish remains a central point in their lives.
Weddings are a public manifestation of a commitment to love, and for the beginning of a new family with all its hopes and promises. Interestingly, with all this joy, hope and promises, at many weddings people are overcome with deep emotions and cry. It’s not because they are sad – rather they realize that the couple standing before them are moving now beyond their individual lives – the lives known to their friends – and now they are creating something new and extraordinary. They are building their future on this new reality of trust in each other. To place one’s future in the hands of another weak, limited human being is a remarkable act of trust, one that often pulls out from us strong emotions.
And it is because of this strong link to our emotions that the prophet Isaiah (and many other prophets), used the metaphor of a wedding to characterize the intimate bond between God and the Chosen People/ And it is therefore no coincidence that Jesus’ first wondrous sign recorded in the Gospel of John occurred during a wedding feast. A wedding is a sign that love is strong enough to trust in another.
The poetic imagery found in the first reading characterizes the love tha God has for his people, Israel. Mount Zion, the hill on which Jerusalem was built, came to represent the city itself. Destroyed by the Babylonians, it is referred to now by the prophet Isaiah as “forsaken,” and the land as “desolate.” But something new is about to take place. The city is about to be vindicated by the very God who had forsaken it. The COVENANT relationship is about to be reestablished and a new name given for it. Renaming always means a new status or a new creation. The people’s name will be changed from “Forsaken” to “My delight” and the land from “Desolation” to “my espoused.” The wedding metaphor captures both excitement and hope. God is the one who initiates this new relationship; God is the one who will build up a new community. It seems that God’s love is great enough that God will actually ground this future in trust in this weak human nation and people.
The first sign that Jesus performs in John’s Gospel takes place at a wedding. The excitement and hope that bubbled up through the wedding feast are an example of the excitement and hope that will mark his ministry. In this gospel, Jesus’ miracles are called “signs,” meaning that they are outward manifestations of some deeper reality. But to what reality does this sign point? Since a wedding signifies a new life, a new creation, this sign must somehow characterize something new. In the story, the water preserved in the stone jars was intended for Jewish ceremonial washing. Free flowing wine in which Jesus changed the water is a standard symbol of eschatological (or final) fulfillment. Through this miracle, Jesus transforms a celebration of marital new life and hope ino one of eschatological new life and hope.
Wedding celebrations also include gifts. In this new life of eschatological fulfillment, we are given remarkable gifts. In our reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he lists some of these: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, mighty deeds, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues and their interpretation. There are other gifts as well: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” [see Galatians 5:22]. Weddings mean new life, a new creation. New Year’s resolutions – made a short few weeks ago – also suggest attempting a new way of living, a kind of self-transformation. What would happen if we considered this New Year as the beginning of a new relationship with God, something like a wedding? How much would the world change if each one of us took hold of even one of the promised gifts of the Spirit, and allowed it to transform our lives, like water transformed into good wine, and then shared with others? Why can such transformation seem difficult? Isaiah tells us how the devastation of Israel was restored. John tells us how the water was changed to wine. The same SPIRIT, the same LORD, the same GOD works in us – if we only allow it.
Many of us would rise to the occasion if we knew we had been specially chosen to make a difference, to launch a new transformation. We would be excited by the idea of being chosen for any distinction, to think we have what it takes to make a difference. My friends, we HAVE BEEN CHOSEN. We are the wones God has chosen to change the world. We are the wones to be His vessels of peace for which many yearn. You may think, “I can’t do it!” But why not? Look at all the marvelous gifts you have been given. When God initiates transformation, we can be part of changing what has been forsaken into a delight, wat has been desolate into something that is espoused – loved – trusted. We are invited to the wedding feast of eschatological fulfillment. Welcome!
Celebrant: At Cana, Our Lady instructed the servants to rely on the word of her Son. Obedient to the word of Christ, we come to our father in prayer.
READER: For the holy Church of God, the true bride of Christ, (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
READER: For leaders of society that they will listen and act on God’s word, (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
READER: For recently married couples in our parish as well as those preparing for marriage in this new year, (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
READER: For a spirit of hospitality and celebration in our homes, (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
READER: For the unity of all Christian churches into the one House of God, (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
READER: For all who have died, and for the intentions we carry in our hearts, (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
CELEBRANT: God and Father of all, hear us as we turn to you, trusting in the word of your Son, which can turn the water of home into the new wine of our joy. We ask this, through Christ our Lord. (all) AMEN.