God has given us all gifts – to give away

By Msgr. William Carr

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 62:1-5; I Corinthians 12:4-11; and John 2:1-12
We return to “Ordinary Time”, the season of the life of the Church. Green is the color of life and of hope; our vestments and altar frontals will be green until Lent begins. Because of the gospel selection, Sunday is often called “Cana Sunday.” The basic story is simple: Jesus and his followers go to a wedding feast; the host runs short of wine; Mary tells Jesus who seemingly rebuffs her. Mary tells the waiters to do whatever Jesus says. Jesus then changes the water into wine.
But the rest of the story is much deeper. John’s gospel always has at least two levels, one obvious and one deeper and not so obvious. The purpose of John’s gospel is to show the replacement of all the forms of Judaism with something new and better. Jesus works seven “signs” to do this.
This first sign alludes to the Jewish manner of purification (the water jars). This is replaced by the lavish (about 125-150 gallons) new wine of Christ (representing the grace of love and salvation.) Jesus calls his mother “woman”, alluding to the “woman” in Genesis 3:15 whose son will stamp out evil. The old woman Eve and her heritage is replaced by the new woman, the Church, represented by Mary. The marriage of God to Israel is replaced by the marriage of the Church to Christ. The theme is newness, richness, joy, and love.
Do you think you are a nobody? Then you’ll act like one! But if you think that you are a beloved son or daughter of God, you should act as one. The second reading tells us that God has given each of us distinct talents and gifts. And he calls on us to “give them away”, to use them in service to others for the building up of the Church. Insofar as we try to serve others and “give away” our gifts, the Lord will lavish on us even more abundantly. Let us pray to know our gifts and to use them in joy for others. If we seek to serve, we shall be amazed at our joy!

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Nehemiah 8:2-4,5-6,8-10; I Corinthians 12:12-30; and Luke 1:1-4;4:14-21
Except for Lent and Easter, all of our Sunday Gospels will be taken from the Gospel of Luke this year. Luke is the only non-Jewish writer of any book of the bible. He was well-educated; he was a doctor; he accompanied Paul on some of his missionary journeys. Luke has a sense of delicacy, and he often smooths the “rough” language of Mark. He omits anything which would be offensive to good taste. His Gospel emphasizes the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness. Luke takes note of secular history, and places Jesus in historical perspective. Women play a very important part in Luke’s Gospel. Remember these characteristics as you read Luke this year.
The Gospel contains the first four verses of the gospel; then it skips to the time immediately after Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. Jesus goes to his hometown synagogue, opens the scroll of Isaiah to give the reading. He then sits down and proclaims that the reading has been fulfilled in their presence! The Spirit of the Lord is upon him. He is anointed to proclaim Good News to all.
The first reading today describes the renewal of the covenant under Ezra about 450 B.C. Moses had received the Torah from the Lord on Mt. Sinai about the year 1290 B.C. Then the Israelites had promised to be loyal to the covenant, but they were not. Because of their constant infidelity, the nation was destroyed, and they were captives at Babylon from 587 to 538 B.C. God delivered them; they returned home; and under Ezra they renewed their pledge of loyalty to the covenant. “Amen” means “with all my heart and soul, I agree to this!”
The second reading continues Paul’s discussion on the use of all our gifts and talents for the building up of the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ. Although we shall use the short form of the reading at Mass today, read and reflect on the longer form. Each of us receives the one Body of Christ in Holy Communion. We are united with him. Through our union with the Person or Body of Christ, we become one Body in him! Therefore we must show our unity with each other by our bonds of love and caring. Each person must seek to contribute to the building of the Body of Christ, and not to tearing it apart.