Monday, January 11, 2010

Preparing for the Mass - Sunday, January 17, 2010 (Cycle C)

First ReadingIsaiah 62:1-5

How beautifully this first reading goes with the Gospel!
Isaiah presents an outright celebration of nuptials: God’s relation to Israel, to us, is an undying covenant of love and fidelity. Thus, it might be more than happenstance that the first miraculous “sign” of Jesus recounted in the fourth Gospel occurs at a wedding in Cana of Galilee.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10
Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

2* The Gifts of the Spirit!
Verses 8-10 spell out the charismata  (definition @ end of paragraph), listing nine in all: (1) wisdom, (2) knowledge (gnosis), (3) faith, (4) healing, (5) miracle-working, (6) prophecy, (7) discernment of spirits, (8) tongues, (9) interpretation of tongues.

The gifts fall into three groups: (I) wisdom and knowledge; (II) faith, healing, and miracle-working; (III) prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.

I. Elsewhere in 1 Corinthians there is hardly any perceptible difference between wisdom and knowledge. Both refer to gifts that the Corinthian Gnostics claimed to possess, and criticized Paul for not having.

II. Faith here does not mean the faith by which all Christians respond to the gospel and so are justified, but a special gift confined to some. It is connected with miracle-working.

III. Prophecy does not require interpretation, for it is not unintelligible speech; but it requires the discerning of spirits—to see whether it is genuine or false prophecy. In verse 1 Paul has already set up the criterion: whether the prophecy confesses Jesus as Lord or says anathema lesous.
Verse 11 rounds off the list by repeating the substance of verse 7 and prepares for the ensuing section on the churches as the body of Christ: one Spirit—one body.
The Apostle prefers the term charismata to the term pneumatika (“spiritual things”), for it emphasizes that the gifts are gifts of grace (charis), not natural endowments to be proud of. The word “service” (diakonia) strikes a polemical note to be taken up later in the development of the image of the body.

Gospel: John 2:1-11
I have read and heard many discourses on this Gospel, as, I am sure, have you. Hopefully all Catholics grasp the importance of
  • the reiteration of "covenant"
  • the great symbolism of the wine   
  • Jesus' first public miracle. Jesus gives God's people a sign that the Messiah has come. Later the disciples would recognize Jesus as the Bridegroom of the Church, the new people of God. 
  • Maybe you have even noticed the parallels in John's Gospel to Genesis and that we are now on the "third day"

What I have struggled with is Jesus' response to his Mother when she makes this request of him.
“What to me and to you, woman?” This phrase, literally translated, is sometimes a response of someone who feels unjustly bothered by another (see Judg 11:12; 2 Chr 35:21; 1 Kgs 17:18; Mark 1:24; 5:7; John 2:4[?]). In other instances the phrase is the answer of someone who refuses to get involved in the affairs of someone else (see 2 Kgs 3:13; Hos 14:8; John 2:4 [?]). *3
 I have finally found a Church teaching that answers my questions. I hope you will find it enlightening, also.
*4 Thoughts from the Early Church (attributed to Maximus of Turin):
" . . . . the most blessed Mary said to him: They have no wine.

Jesus answered as though he were displeased. Woman, he said, is that my concern, or yours? It can hardly be doubted that these were words of displeasure. However, this I think was only because his mother mentioned to him so casually the lack of earthly wine, when he had come to offer the peoples of the whole world the new chalice of eternal salvation. By his reply, My hour has not yet come, he was foretelling the most glorious hour of his passion, and the wine of our redemption which would obtain life for all. Mary was asking for a temporal favor, but Christ was preparing joys that would be eternal. Nevertheless, the Lord in his goodness did not refuse this small grace while great graces were awaited."

Want more? Lagniappe from *5 Scott Hahn!

Sign of a New Creation

The first clue that we should look for a deeper meaning is found in the story’s opening words - "on the third day." (John 1:1) This points us to what has gone before in the Gospel.

The Cana story marks the conclusion of a series of events that begin in John’s first chapter. John begins his Gospel with a kind of recapping of the creation story found in the Bible’s first book. His first words are even the same as the first words of Genesis - "In the beginning…" (compare John 1:1; Genesis 1:1).

If you beyond today's Gospel (which ends @ John 2:11) you will notice that John wants us to see the coming of Jesus into the world as a new creation. In this new creation, a new people of God is to be born by faith in Jesus and the power of water and the Spirit in Baptism (see John 1:12; 29-34; 3:5).


*1. Sadler We Believe
*2. Preaching the Lectionary: The Word of God for the Church Today
Reginald H. Fuller. The Liturgical Press. 1984 (Revised Edition) pp. 447-450.

*3.  Historical Cultural Context The Cultural World of Jesus, Sunday by Sunday, Cycle C
John J. Pilch. The Liturgical Press. 1997. pp. 22-24.  John J Pilch is from Georgetown University
*4. Thoughts from the Early Church -- Journey with the Fathers Commentaries on the Sunday Gospels - Year C, pp. 72-73. Edith Barnecut, O.S.B., ed.
*5. Scott Hahn - St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology -  
  6. Center for Liturgy

  7. Art Related to the Gospel of John

  •  Tree - Agape Bible Study
  • Mosaic located in  the Hagia Sophia, Istanbul - Turkey
  • (ca. 1485) - oil on panel, by Hieronymous Bosch (German, 1450-1516) - from the CGFA website; at the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam; another copy at Olga's Gallery  
  • (1531) - oil on canvas, by Garofalo (Italian, 1481-1559) - at the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia 

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