Second Sunday in Ordinary Time 17-01-2010



Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the late 1800s, a well-known bishop was travelling the United States, speaking to religious and academic leaders. At one of his stops, he was invited to have dinner with some prominent leaders. During the dinner he was asked, “What do you think the future holds for us?” After a moment’s pause, he replied, “The future is bleak, and in my opinion, we have discovered all there is to discover, created all there is to create, and invented all there is to invent.” One of the leaders

commented, “I think someday, man shall learn to fly like the birds.” To this, the bishop replied, “You are mad, flight is only reserved for the angels.” With that statement he stormed out of the room. The good news was that the bishop’s last name was Wright! Years later, his two sons Orville and Wilbur, made the dream of flying real on the windswept salt marshes of Kitty Hawk. 

We live in a world full of riches. We have to be open to the idea of change. What is needed to tap into the vast potential of this world are new and better “ideas”. Never under rate yourself and others. Others will ridicule and laugh at your ideas but you will have the last laugh at the end. Can you imagine Jars of water becoming Wine? 

“There is no royal road to anything. One thing at a time, all things in succession. That which grows fast, withers as rapidly. That which grows slowly, endures.” Jesus’ mission was a mission of wisdom. He made water into wine, turned ordinary Jars into deposits of sweetest wine.  If you are with Jesus, everything is going to be possible. 

John tells us that on the third day a wedding took place in Cana. This is an interesting detail because through most of his gospel, John is not specific about time. The two main places where he counts sequences of days are the raising of Lazarus and in these first two chapters. When John counts days, he does so for a specific purpose. In this case, when John says this wedding happened on the third day, we need to reckon this counting as a part of the greater sequence in chapters 1 and 2. After counting all the days enumerated from chapter 1 and chapter 2, we find that this wedding takes place on the seventh day. John, in his subtle manner, parallels these seven days of Jesus’ early ministry to the creation week. The six days of calling disciples ends with a

seventh day of rest at a wedding party. John uses this new creation imagery to

highlight the significance of Jesus’ ministry.

Now, combine this creation imagery with the Old Testament images of wedding banquets and new wine. Passages like Isaiah 55:1; Joel 3:18; and Amos 9:13-15 use this imagery to symbolize the coming end of the age. Go back later and read these passages within their greater context. John combines the creation imagery and the end-times imagery to indicate that Jesus provides something more than a personal self-help program. Jesus makes possible a renewal for all of creation. John explains this renewal through the rest of the gospel, but in this passage, we get a glimpse of how it affects our relationships, our wholeness, and our purpose.

Jesus brings renewal to our relationships. Look at verses 2-4 to see the changing relationship of Jesus with his mother. Notice how Jesus responds to his mother. The NIV translates it: “Dear Woman, why do you involve me.” Some translations make it sound much harsher. Jesus is respectfully and gently distancing himself from his mother. Rather than addressing her as mother, he calls her “woman.” He subtly indicates that the nature of their relationship is changing. Until now, she had enjoyed special privilege as Jesus’ mother, but now she had to begin to learn how to be a disciple. This process would be painful for her. She would feel rejected; she would watch Jesus die; and she would also come to realize that she too had to kneel at the cross of her king. She would have to let go of some of the privileges of mother, but in so doing the new relationship would give her something greater and deeper than before. This is not to say that Jesus stopped being Mary’s son, but only that the nature of the relationship changed: the old transformed into something new. If that was true for Mary, then it is also true for us. When our relationship with Christ is the most important relationship in our life, it transforms all our earthly relationships into something new. Not only does Christ give instructions for relationships in this book, but he also renews and transforms us from the inside.

This inner transformation enables us to view our relationships less from the perspective of “What can this person do for me?” and more from the perspective of “How does our relationship bring glory to God?” It enables us to turn off the TV and tune in to our children. It enables us to forego a Saturday of golf to spend time with a lonely aunt or a lonesome uncle. It enables us to say, “I’m sorry,” to affirm the good in the other person. When we bow to Christ as our king, we learn to sacrifice our wants so that we may show the love of Christ to those around us.

Not only does Jesus bring renewal to our relationships, but he also brings renewal to our wholeness. Look at verses 5-10. The six stone jars contained water used for the ceremonial washing of guests’ hands and cooking utensils. These washings were not just to take care of dirt. God’s demand for purity was administered through the tedium of countless sacrifices and washings. The unspoken belief is that through proper observance of the ritual for cleaning the

outside, we’ll be clean on the inside. We’ll be whole before a holy God.  The ritual is not a magical formula that makes the connection happen, but rather it is a gateway through which a true seeker can find that connection. The ritual is an aide to focus the individual’s reach to connect with that undefinable “something out there.” It still seems that there is a yearning for something we can do to connect us to eternity. Christ comes on the scene and blows rituals away. He takes the instruments for the ritual and uses them in a totally new way. Rather than the jars being used as instruments through which man can reach to God, the jars become vehicles for God’s blessing to man. What once held water that man used to wash and to approach God now held wine generously provided by God for man’s enjoyment. Whereas wholeness was once achieved through ritual, it now comes through relationship with a living, breathing person who provides the best wine for the feast. Jesus gives us a new way to become whole.

Not only does Jesus bring renewal to our relationships and to our need for wholeness, but he also brings renewal to our very belief. Look at verse 11. The miracle is called a sign, and at that sign his disciples believed. Jesus’ words and deeds were signs about who he is. In the same way, the Scriptures themselves, and the evidence of the transformed lives of those in the church, are signs proclaiming Christ as King. So we’ve seen that Christ brings renewal to all things, and that this passage highlights renewal in relationships, wholeness, and faith. As I said before, it’s done in the context of a party. This was not a somber occasion – this was a celebration! Wedding feasts in those times could go on for days. This was a festive affair. Similarly, the renewal that Christ works within us is a cause for celebration. We in the church should be celebrating and partying because of what God has done and is doing in his people.