The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C – 16 January 2022
Lectionary Readings: Is 62:1-5; Ps 96: 1-3.7-10; 1 Cor 12:4-11; Jn 2:1-11
Theme: Messianic Abundance
The gospel of John is not written to tell us about the faith experience of the people “ in the story” but to challenge the faith of the people who are “reading the story” who are to ask: “Where do I stand?” The miracle of Cana is so significant to John that he has it as the first of the seven signs that helped the reader to come to faith in Jesus as the Son of God (20:30).
Villagers in the small Galilean town of Cana are celebrating a wedding. Weddings in Jesus’ time were important events. Relatives and townspeople would gather to celebrate, often for up to a week! The text gives us clues to what John intended by including this incident in his gospel. Marriage was a familiar image in the First Testament, describing the covenant relationship of God with his people (Is. 62:4, see the first reading) and the wedding may allude to the messianic banquet, the feast that will celebrate the inauguration of God’s rule. The fact that the wedding takes place on the third day puts the reader in mind of the resurrection. With the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, the benefits of the Resurrection were already felt. This is confirmed by the allusion to the hour of Jesus (2:4).
The mother of Jesus has a role in this first sign, and she will not appear again until the scene at the cross (19:26). In the miracle at Cana verse five suggests that the mother of Jesus (she is never named in this gospel) does believe in Jesus and entrusts herself to the efficacy of Jesus’ word (2:4-5). Her faith leads to a ‘sign’ and the first step in faith to others (2:6-11) i.e. the revelation of God in the person of Jesus. With the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, the proper relationship between God and his people was restored and the benefits of the resurrection were already felt.
The vast quantity of wine that took the place of the water for the ritual hand-washing that precedes the meal on the surface, may have pointed to the considerable number of invited guests. The six stone jars each contained 20-30 gallons of water which means that Jesus miraculously provided 120-130 gallons of wine. But Amos (9:13) and Joel (4:18) looked forward to an abundance of wine in the messianic time.
The miracle reveals much about Jesus and his future ministry. It reflects his compassion: at his mother’s request, he intervened to save the situation and spared his hosts social embarrassment. At first, Jesus appeared unwilling to get involved, but his mother persisted. It reminds the reader that no human agency, only the Father’s will guides what Jesus does in his ministry. Jesus avoided the limelight and only the servants knew what he had done. John makes mention of this. Jesus showed no restraint in responding to human need: he offered abundance as a solution. His response to the wine shortage seems excessive – enough for the guests to wash in, and it was good wine better than that which had already been served.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. Where do I stand in this story? 2. What do we learn about Jesus and his Mother? 3. What does John mean by calling Jesus’ miracles ‘signs’? (This is the first of seven in John.)
Bibliography: Brown, R. & al., The New Jerome Biblical Commentary Prentice-Hall (New Jersey, 1990); Edmunds P, A Companion to the Sunday Missal (Paulines: 2003); Levine, A-J. and Brettler, M. Z., The Jewish Annotated New Testament, (Oxford University Press: 2011); African Bible (Paulines: 2003).
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Marie Andre Mitchell SNDdeN. Johannesburg, Bat Kol Alumna 2001,2,6,8,9,10,12,14,16 BKLT