Isaiah 62, 1-5
- For Zion’s sake I will not be quiet.
I hear strength and determination in the prophet’s voice. That is
how I will begin. Will it continue at this same pitch?
- Her vindication shines forth … Nations shall behold your vindication. Here we have a blueprint for
a city’s restoration, a people’s renewal. Let me think of post-war
reconstructions, of present-day New Orleans, of New York City’s World Trade Center site – for that matter, present-day
- At such times there are the world-weary, burdened by old devastation, and there are great dreamers, looking ahead;
and God is clearly a great dreamer. Listen: You
shall be called by a new name … You shall be a glorious crown. Let me use my best promoter’s voice here.
- You shall be called, My Delight. It reminds me of the way our own cities put on airs when they compete to host a high profile event like
the Olympic Games, except that God’s selection process is unconditional and its outcome lasts forever!
- The passage
ends with three verses about the intimate attachment of God to this people. The
prophet compares it to the marriage bond. The
Lord delights in you and makes your land his spouse. This is the time for
me to end the hard sell and add warmth to my words. We are in the presence of
covenant renewal, not urban renewal, and that is what I especially want the assembly to remember.
- Climax: Pronounced by
the mouth of the Lord. This restoration, from start to finish, is of God’s
own making. God is the Builder.
- Message for our assembly: Are we as a church defined only by our historical
legacy? Or is the best yet to come?
- I will challenge myself: to temper my civic booster routine as I repeat
the promises God made to the people.
I Corinthians 12, 4-11
- Three times in the first sentence I hear a contrast between different and
same. I will make sure that my listeners
hear and identify with the message. I also hear the names of the Trinity, same Spirit, same Lord, same God.
- I have heard this passage before, but this time I am especially struck by the way the apostle keeps mentioning the Spirit. He says the word seven times, and could say it more often
if he needed to. Why is this so important?
- He is speaking to the church, not to the individuals who are its members: To
each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. And
he means the benefit of others. He wants to leave no doubt that the Spirit is
always involved. As he lists the gifts he seems to ask us whether he needs to
keep repeating the word “Spirit” each time, or have we gotten the point?
- Here we find the reason why we avoid singling out outstanding readers, psalmists, preachers and liturgical ministers
in general. We do not perform our ministry in isolation, but within our assemblies
and for the good of our assemblies. It is the same in team sports, in which star
athletes continually downplay the awards they have received as individuals, and place more weight on team success. We can also ask: Thanks to the ministry we have exercised, is our church better equipped to proclaim the
good news to the world in its words and works?
- The apostle mentions nine different spiritual gifts. He placed varieties of tongues near the bottom because of disputes that arose at Corinth.
He mentioned several gifts related to intelligence, such as wisdom, knowledge, prophecy, and discernment. In other words, it helps the church most of all when
we grasp what is happening, and understand what it means in the eyes of God. Some
gifts like healing may be rare, while others such as faith are demanded of us all. And I notice how he repeats the words
by the same Spirit, by the one Spirit.
- I hear a final reminder of the role of the Spirit: Distributing them as he
wishes. We do not merit them as a reward.
We receive and use them as a sacred trust.
- Central point: The gifts I describe today come from God, who produces all of
them in everyone.
- The message for our assembly: Do we give God the glory for the talents we dedicate to our ministry?
- I will challenge myself: To keep the church in the center of the reading, as the reality that is not mentioned but
understood by everyone.
John 2, 1-11
- There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee and the mother of Jesus
was there. Top billing for the mother?
Did I hear right? Perhaps she was the one who received the invitation
in the name of her family. By the way, the Gospel of John never names her “Mary”
but presents her in relation to Jesus.
- All the stories and teachings in this Gospel “are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ.” That includes the interesting exchange between Jesus and his mother. We are in the presence of faith, even when we are taking part in the most worldly activities. What do I mean?
- The exchange between them can be understood on two levels. On the surface,
they just lend a helping hand to friends in an embarrassing moment: They have no wine
… You have kept the good wine. I
can identify: more than once I have produced a corkscrew and opened the wine bottles at each table.
- But in the process they reveal his glory.
Here I have to search in prayer and rehearsal for the help of the Spirit. Woman, how does your concern affect me? The
evangelist obviously had a spiritual object. It is the first of the public signs,
so perhaps his mother knew something about him that the world did not. I note
that for this Gospel the baptism is not the public sign that it is for the Synoptics.
- Fill the jars with water. Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.
The commands are straightforward; maybe Jesus winked as he said them. The water that had become wine (Note: how it became wine is not an issue). And even the Jewish ceremonial washings! The reading is so rich with images that I will leave their main interpretation to
the homilist, but in my own way I must hint that something new is being revealed in the course of a most earthly celebration.
- Climax: Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs. That is the reason why we hear the story today.
- Message for our assembly: May our faith grow also as we come to know Jesus.
- I will challenge myself: To read in such a way that my listeners gain in insight into Jesus, and together with the
disciples believe in him.
From Word to Eucharist: Our
prayer of thanks today is the way we answer God for such lavish giving, for such overwhelming promises, to us undeserving
and unappreciating children of God. Let us work with the Spirit who sanctifies
our simple gifts.