January 16th 2022

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Contents:

  1. Parish Bulletin for Holy Family
  2. Newsletter for St Benedict's
  3. This Sunday's Readings
  4. Sunday Reflection
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This Sunday's Readings


First reading       Isaiah 62:1-5 

The bridegroom rejoices in his bride

About Zion I will not be silent,
about Jerusalem I will not grow weary,
until her integrity shines out like the dawn
and her salvation flames like a torch.

The nations then will see your integrity,
all the kings your glory,
and you will be called by a new name,
one which the mouth of the Lord will confer.
You are to be a crown of splendour in the hand of the Lord,
a princely diadem in the hand of your God;

โ€‹no longer are you to be named 'Forsaken',
nor your land 'Abandoned',
but you shall be called 'My Delight'
and your land 'The Wedded';
for the Lord takes delight in you
and your land will have its wedding.

โ€‹Like a young man marrying a virgin,
so will the one who built you wed you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices in his bride,
so will your God rejoice in you.


Second reading         1 Corinthians 12:4-11 

The Spirit distributes gifts to different people just as he chooses

There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose. One may have the gift of preaching with wisdom given him by the Spirit; another may have the gift of preaching instruction given him by the same Spirit; and another the gift of faith given by the same Spirit; another again the gift of healing, through this one Spirit; one, the power of miracles; another, prophecy; another the gift of recognising spirits; another the gift of tongues and another the ability to interpret them. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, who distributes different gifts to different people just as he chooses.



Gospel Reading           John 2:1-11 

'My hour has not come yet' - 'Do whatever he tells you'

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. When they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the wedding was all finished, the mother of Jesus said to him, 'They have no wine.' Jesus said 'Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.' His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever he tells you.' There were six stone water jars standing there, meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews: each could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, 'Fill the jars with water', and they filled them to the brim. 'Draw some out now' he told them 'and take it to the steward.' They did this; the steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine. Having no idea where it came from - only the servants who had drawn the water knew - the steward called the bridegroom and said, 'People generally serve the best wine first, and keep the cheaper sort till the guests have had plenty to drink; but you have kept the best wine till now.'
This was the first of the signs given by Jesus: it was given at Cana in Galilee. He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him.
โ€‹


Sunday Reflection Second Sunday of the Year

Today we begin the ordinary season of the year. Today's readings tell us about the true identity of Jesus, who he is, and what his mission is. We need to know who Jesus is and understand his mission if we want to be his true disciples. We respond to God's love through lives that encourage forgiveness and reconciliation. The readings of today reveal to us that the Lord God rejoices in the Church that has been instituted by Jesus in the Father through the Holy Spirit. God is generous to his children and he rejoices in them. In the joyful hymn of Isaiah, we see how God prepares for His remnant people, the ones who had remained faithful to him, good gifts, and more particularly his own presence. God and his people will be joined together in the New Covenant. Paul in the second reading tells us that all gifts come from God but with a purpose so that we may proclaim his glory in his kingdom. These gifts may be diverse but they all proclaim God's own glory. The Gospel presents to us the first miracle performed by Jesus at a wedding. A wedding is a time of abundance and celebration. From the food and wine that are served to the music and dancing that follow, weddings overflow with the goodness of life. At a deeper level, weddings speak about love, compassion, and unity. Wedding feast Cana is a sign of God's love and compassion. Here Jesus takes care of the family who is about to be pushed into a state of embarrassment. At the same time, he accepts the word of Mary to do a good act and present the family things in abundance.

The first reading gives us the celebration of Joy over the restoration of the relationship between God and his people. Years of exile had made people realize their foolishness and now they consider it a privilege to serve the Lord God. God comes to them as a special gift. God had remained silent for a long period of time because of the sins of His disobedient children. Now the people will be obedient and trustful to God who is their saviour. The reading begins with God breaking the long silence measured by years of exile following the collapse of the kingdom. During that time pride and arrogance lost their hold on the people. Now they are ready to accept God's plan for them. Israel is now given royal status and the nation shines like the glorious crown, a royal diadem in God's hands. God honours Israel with the new name, my beloved, my espoused one. They are now God's people. This wonderful transformation is not for the benefit of Israel alone. All the other nations shall benefit from it.

In the second reading of today, Paul enumerates the gifts the Christian Community has received. These gifts are a gratuitous present that has come to each from the almighty. The people of Corinth believed that whatever gift they had, including the spiritual, was due to their own merits. Paul says that diverse though these gifts are, they all come from the one God. All of us have distinct abilities. We are called upon to use them to complement one another, for the good of the whole community, for building up God's Kingdom on earth. Paul lists nine gifts, but the charisms are not limited to nine. Christians receive whatever gifts necessary to fulfill their mission in life. The spiritual manifestations fall into three categories. These are the gifts, the ministries, and the activities. The gifts are attributed to the Holy Spirit who has been sent by the Lord Jesus and the Father. The ministries are attributed to the Lord Jesus, who was sent as God incarnated to minister and to serve. forms of service. The Spirit is the person who distributes these gifts in the Community.

The story of the marriage feast at Cana we heard in today's Gospel is narrated by St John only. The event had made a deep impression on him as it happened only a few days after he and four disciples had decided to follow Christ. At this wedding, he witnessed the first miracle worked by the Lord which must have impressed him a great deal. It is possible too that at the time he was writing the Gospel several stories about Jesus were in circulation but John chooses to emphasize this unique miracle as a special and the first sign. Very probably Mary was a relative or a close friend of the family and she shows deep interest in the needs and even shortcomings of the family. She even seems to have some authority in the house that she gives orders to servants. Here Jesus anticipates the hour of working the miracle at the request of his mother.

Today's Gospel passage reveals to us one of the events that came to pass to manifest to us that the promise of God the Father was being fulfilled in the fullness of time. In the Gospel, we see Jesus, his mother, and his disciples at a wedding. And it is not a religious ceremony but a social celebration of the wedding. Jewish weddings of those days could last a week. This was a time of grand celebration and Jesus and Mary along with the disciples were part of it. The message today is very clear: Jesus brings joy and he shares in the joys of others. He wants that our religion is meant to be a joy-filled experience. The German philosopher Nietzsche once said: "If Christians want me to believe in their religion, they will have to look as if they are saved." Christian joy is a sign of being fully alive. St. Irenaeus says "The glory of God is a person who is fully alive." Today's story is indeed a great revelation of God's presence and activity in our midst. We see God revealing himself again in what Jesus does in this wedding scene.

The action of Jesus turning water into wine is the first of the seven signs that Jesus performed and recorded in the Gospel of John. On the surface, signs appear to be miracles but John presents them with a particular purpose. These miracles have a strong symbolic significance that tells us about Jesus and also his messianic work. Each miracle reveals the messianic sign of Jesus the Messiah who is the full revelation of God to us. He is a word that has become flesh for the sake of humanity. John never speaks of these signs as Jesus' 'miracles'. He prefers to call them 'signs', pointing to God's power and love at work in Jesus. The sign is generally a thing that points to or interprets a new idea or vision. In the wedding feast of Cana, the sign is that Jesus turns the water in six large stone jars used for Jewish purification rites, into very good wine. Here we have Jesus who saves the people from embarrassment and at the same time listens to Mary and performs the miracle for a humble poor family.

Secondly, Jesus tells his mother that his hour has not yet come. We the readers here are presented with a scene where is Jesus attends a marriage function together with his disciples. During the celebration, an unexpected crisis has come up that is in the feast when all things are going on right, the family has run short of wine that had to be served to the guests. This was quite shameful for the host. Mary on her own notices this and gets Jesus involved in the situation. She urges him to do something special for them and avoid possible embarrassment. There is an indication that Mary was already aware of his power. It is also possible that she was sharing a human concern as she was a person as sensitive to the difficulties of others as we see at the visitation. Jesus responds to her in a divine way by giving them plenty of wine necessary for the banquet.

Jesus accedes to his mother's wishes but not just to prevent an embarrassing crisis. He uses this occasion to reveal something about himself and his mission. He is the Messiah and has a mission to fulfill of proclaiming the Kingdom of God. The water in the stone jars is changed into wine, and the miracle that Jesus does is not really visible. There is now enough wine to accommodate the people at the wedding banquet. Except for the servant and perhaps the disciples no one is aware of it. This wine symbolizes the New Way that Jesus is introducing, far better than what had gone before. And there was so much of this new wine available and of excellent quality. It represents the generosity and liberality of God. Of course, it is the divine power of Jesus the Son of God that will produce the miracle and change water into wine. But this divine Power wants to act in response to prayer: Mary believes that her Son is able to perform a miracle and so she asks him to do so, simply by telling him that the wedding guests did not have any more wine. Thereafter, each time Jesus performs a miracle, the faith, and prayer of man will have first invited the Power of God to manifest itself through an exemption from the laws of nature - that is, through a miracle.

His mother told the servants to do whatever he tells them to do. The servants associated themselves with the faith of Mary through their obedience to the commands of Christ. John tells us that there were six stone jars were standing for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus asked them to fill the jars with water. The servants obeyed him and they filled them up to the brim. He said to them to draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast. In order for Jesus to perform his first miracle, Mary asked her Son to act and she reiterated to him all her faith. Mary is the first among all believers and her faith is unlimited. Being totally united with her son she was aware that he will not refuse her request. Through her deep faith, she collaborates in the saving work of her son. She will be there with the church throughout. Her faith had its effect on the disciples and the seed of faith was placed in their hearts. Mary will be there too, in the Cenacle, on that day of the first Pentecost! Mary will have prayed with them in order that the Power of the Almighty, who had already come upon her on the day of the Annunciation, might pour itself upon the disciples of her Son and allow them to perform their own first miracles.

The miracle of today is to reveal a God in Jesus who is so generous that he sometimes scares us by his outgoing love. His generosity is overwhelming and is sometimes it is difficult for us to comprehend. And all this happens in the context of a wedding banquet. In the New Testament Church, the Christian community is the Bride of Christ. In the Letter to the Ephesians, this "marriage" is linked to human marriage, of which it is a model. Jesus' followers are called upon to experience his generosity and the Gospel of John tells us that they began to believe through the sign he performed in front of them. We see here the power and majesty of Jesus. The kind act of Jesus tells us that he is involved with our entire life and not spiritual life alone. It also tells us that it becomes easier when we approach him through Mary our Mother.

The Eucharist is a sign of God's constant presence where he makes us generous with his love and strengthens our love so that it can become our real paschal meal. Let us make every Sunday Eucharist a special meal to share with one another as Jesus did. Let it bring to us a sense of togetherness with those around us or strangers who happen to be present with us. Finally, we know that Mary was there present at the wedding of Cana. Her intervention saved the day. Her words to the servants are still highly meaningful for us: "Do whatever he tells you." Mary here really represents the Church and it is through the Church that Christ comes into our lives and through the Church that we go to him. Much more, it is about living as a Christian today and every day. Let us reflect upon our active involvement in the Body of Christ and pray that by the grace of God, we may always persevere in our living faith as shining lights.

A fox that lived in the deep forest of long ago had lost its front legs. No one knew how: perhaps escaping from a trap. A man, who lived on the edge of the forest, seeing the fox from time to time, wondered how in the world it managed to get its food. One day when the fox was not far from him he had to hide quickly because a tiger was approaching. The tiger had fresh game in its claws. Lying down on the ground, it ate its fill, leaving the rest for the fox. Again the next day the great Provider of this world sent provisions to the fox by this same tiger. The man began to think: "If this fox is taken care of in this mysterious way, its food sent by some unseen Higher Power, why don't I just rest in a corner and have my daily meal provided for me?" Because he had a lot of faith, he let the days pass, waiting for food. Nothing happened. He just went on losing weight and strength until he was nearly a skeleton. Close to losing consciousness, he heard a voice which said: "O you, who have mistaken the way, see now the Truth! You should have followed the example of that tiger instead of imitating the disabled fox."


Fr. Eugene Lobo S.J. Bangalore, India