Jan. 19, 2019

SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, 2019

YOU SHALL BE CALLED GOD'S DELIGHT

Readings: 1st- Is. 62: 1-5; 2nd- 1 Cor. 12:4-11; Gospel- Jn. 2:1-11

The great message for today is that we are God’s delight. We are special.

God continues to remind humanity of his love through the image of marriage or the wedding feast. His presence is reflected in the marriage covenant seen in both the first reading and the gospel of this Sunday. Isaiah prophesies renewal for Israel and declares that their period of exile is officially over even though the people still entertain fear. The prophet announces hope, speaking directly in God’s voice, “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch” (Is. 62:1). Despite Jerusalem’s experience as captives in Babylon, God promises his love, “You shall no more be called “Forsaken” and your land shall not be termed “Desolate.” God’s love feels like the bride feeling the fresh love of her groom. 

It is exciting to hear that Jerusalem shall be called God’s “Delight,” and their land “Espoused.” The last verse of that reading brings out clearly the language of a wedding covenant between God and Israel, “As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you” (Is. 62:5). The people’s confidence is strengthened by the celebration of this special wedding feast. Jerusalem is considered precious before God. 

The popular story of wedding at Cana in Galilee continues the theme of marriage in the gospel. Cana symbolizes the point of manifestation of Christ’s mission. The mother of Jesus is at the wedding, and Jesus and his disciples are also invited. The couple have no idea what Jesus will do. They serve their guests like any other host would do. They run out of wine while the wedding reception is still on. Mary is the first to recognize the embarrassment that the newlywed is about to face. She turns to her son with the plea, “They have no wine” (Jn. 2:4). This is what can be described as Mary’s appeal. She is the first to sense our physical danger. In her maternal role, Mary is very attentive to what is happening at the background. Mary is God’s First Delight. Her appeal is strong for Jesus to refuse although he’s yet to begin his public ministry. 

His response is a bit weird when he says, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” Jesus does not intend to be mean to her mother and does not disrespect her. When Jesus says, “how does your concern affect me?” I imagine two things: He is yet to start to start his public mission. He expresses that his hour of miracle is premature. Second, Jesus is distinct from his mother. The story tells us that “the mother of Jesus was there” while “Jesus was invited” with his disciples. Although they attended separately, theirs are two hearts of love. Mary knows that her appeal will move her son, so she tells the attendants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Mary is a strong intercessor before Christ. She has strong voice in expressing our needs.

Cana also depicts the vitality of God’s love in our lives. Cana captures eloquently the wine of happiness that flows from knowing and serving God. “Wine,” in this wedding episode, signifies the sense of God who is our “Love.” We nourish our wine through constant contact with Christ. Christ is the bridegroom of his church and sacrificed himself for her. On the Cross, blood and water poured out as a symbol of sacrificial love. The wedding feast at Cana foreshadows that moment of the fullness of life which Christ came to give. Think of the embarrassment which this couple would have felt. Think of the shame associated with having their wine finish halfway. The wedding joy would have turned sour. But the presence of Christ transformed this disappointment and lack into joy and surplus. Christ’s miracle fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah, “No more shall people call you “Forsaken,” or your land “Desolate.”

We are God’s “delight” because we have been drawn into a covenant relationship with him. God is keeping an eye on us. He loves us. He would save us from embarrassment caused by lack and disappointment. God does not want us to be shamed. God is interested in our happiness. The question is how can we be God’s Delight?  

Recently, I met this lady who is struggling in her marriage. Having been married for about five years now, she believes her husband has changed from the man she thinks she married. He insincere and has become uncaring. After telling her story, one question she asked was, “Why does God allow such things to happen to me? Can’t he do something?” The questions touched me. What I think is that the marriage wine has run out. Prior to their marriage, her husband presented as a strong church man, which was one reason the lady said she agreed to marry her him. Now, he has stopped attending church activities including Mass. He has been taken over by forces other than God. The truth is that once God enters into our life, He gets involved and shares our joys, big and small as they may be. God gives meaning to our being. Our wines never run out once we keep that relationship with him. 

In marriage, couples enter into covenant with their spouse by their commitment to each other. Beyond that, they enter into covenant with God who is the source and origin of their love. At wedding, couples come to the Church, stand before God’s people, and exchange marriage vows, “For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” They invite God to journey with them, to lead them through difficult and easy times. They establish a bond with Him. Couples open a “savings account” with God on their wedding day. They save their joys and continue to bank with him for the rest of their union. It is not surprising therefore, to feel the sense of incompleteness any time you renege in this covenant.  You lose your happiness. You feel frustration. Your bank account goes red. You experience deficit and suffer lack. You run out of wine.

What I tell any friend of mine is, to get back to Jesus. Ask our Mother Mary to intercede for you. Then listen to her say to you, “Do whatever he tells you.” God does not abandon his own. The Israelites experienced darkness for forty years. But God never abandoned them. Tell your husband or wife to turn to Christ. Tell her it’s not over. Remind her that she is God’s delight. Notwithstanding our infidelities, God always lives up to his covenant of love. He does not want you to stay forsaken or desolate. He rejoices in us just as the bridegroom would rejoice in his bride. Just remember today that, you are God’s delight. He cares so much about you.