“There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there….When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine."
And Jesus said to her, "Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come."
His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you."
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told them, "Fill the jars with water." So they filled them to
(from Jn 2:1-11)
Pondering the Word…
hope all who have responsibility for the lectionary today will opt to read
the longer version of this passage and not the truncated one. For as many
times as I have heard this, its meaning really hits home now.
appropriate is Paul’s message as we consider refugees seeking asylum: those
who are weaker or might be considered “less honorable,” those from violent
homes. those who suffer abuse and indignity, sometimes at the hands of their
would-be rescuers. Or those whose livelihoods are threatened, forced out of
work by division and corruption in the very institutions that are supposed
to work for them.
one part (of the Body of Christ) suffers, all the parts suffer with it.”
I have to ask: Do I really believe this? Do I have the same concern for the
parts of Christ’s Body that are without honor? When I read stories or see
images of women and children desperately trying to reach safety, I suffer. I
cry and cry out to God. But going about my day-to-day activities? How
present are those who are suffering to me? And what do I do about it?
tells us that we surround less honorable parts with greater honor, and that
God “constructed the body to give greater honor to a part that is without
it, so that there may be no division.” I shudder to think of how far I
am, how far we are, from the ideal God intends and hopes for humanity.
“We are one, after all, you and I. Together we suffer, together exist, and
forever will recreate each other.”
(Teilhard de Chardin)
Living the Word…
is a tough subject for me. I feel impotent to make any meaningful,
systematic change, and I need to channel my frustration in more positive
ways. I would guess that in almost every community, there are organizations,
religious and secular, that assist those seeking refuge. And for those of us
blessed to live in a democracy—no matter how fragile it may seem now—we need
to continue to put pressure on elected officials through letters, emails,
visits, votes, and whatever means are available. If we are so blessed, we
need to put our money where our mouths are and support legitimate
efforts on the front lines. And of course, we need to pray—fervently—for
those who suffer and for those who are blind to their plight, that those who
in a position to make a real difference will begin to feel deeply this
suffering of others in their own hearts.
“No one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he
ties up the strong man.” (Mk 3:22-30)
The “strong man” in this parable is the devil. The elders accuse Jesus of
driving out demons from Satan’s “property” by the power of the devil itself.
Jesus counters by acknowledging the powerful grip of evil, but showing his
spirit is more powerful, able to take from the devil what it has possessed.
This talk of Satan, evil, and the devil can make us uneasy. We are foolish
to underestimate the power of evil, but we are empowered by Jesus’ spirit
within. Remember: “When the devil comes a-knockin,’ just say, ‘Jesus,
will you get that for me?’
he says, Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings, you
neither desired nor delighted in. These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, Behold, I come to do your will.”
Wait a minute. What about the Book of Leviticus? There is great detail the
types of sin, peace, and burnt offerings the Lord requires. Why does God
give such specific instructions for offerings he neither desires nor
delights in? The simple answer is this: God, as God always does, comes to us
where we are. The Israelites are people of their time; sacrifices like this
are commonplace. God knows they will stray and need a way to repent and show
faith in God’s mercy. And of course, God knows his plan for salvation, once
and for all through Christ—the one willing to sacrifice the thing most
pleasing to God: his will. The faith of our ancient ancestors, demonstrated
by their obedience to God’s laws, is rewarded through Christ. Jesus shows us
what God wants from us: the promise that we will try our best to sacrifice
our own will and do God’s will as he did.
also says: ‘Their sins and their evildoing I will remember no more.’”
author of Hebrews quotes the prophet Jeremiah (31: 34) saying that God not
only forgives, but also forgets. Pope Francis, in the recent documentary “A
Man of his Word,” speaks to prisoners about this gift of “forgetting,” and
challenges society to try to model ourselves after this attribute of God.
This is a tough concept for most of us to accept. Just forgiving is hard
enough. But really, when you think about it, can you really truly forgive
someone, and then allow the transgression to occupy your mind? True
forgiveness means we no longer dwell on the hurt. A good metaphor to
consider: when you look at a scar on your body, what do think of: the pain
that caused the scar or the blessing of healing and wholeness?
must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. We should not
stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one
This is an apt passage for the time of year (at least where I live), but
also for the times we are living through. It’s tempting to want to hide from
all the negative language and bad news. “A times like this demand: strong
minds, great hearts, true faith, ready hands.” (Josiah Holland) Are you
struggling to keep a positive, hopeful outlook? I am these days, and one of
the best ways I can combat it is to reach out to help others. See if you can
channel the negative energy to do something good for someone in need. Look
to draw strength by doing and praying with your community. Rouse one another
to love and good works.
do not throw away your confidence…You need endurance to do the will of God
and receive what he has promised.”
passage is a good fit with yesterday’s and tomorrow’s readings, but it
speaks to me on a more personal level. It’s not just about enduring
difficulties faced by our institutions. We need confidence and endurance in
our own lives, first to discern God’s will for us, and to then to work
towards doing that will. If you feel confidence waning, turn to Jesus.
Remember he suffered too and will strengthen you and give you hope.
“…Yes, he is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. “But who will endure the
day of his coming? ...he will purify the sons of Levi, refining them like
gold or silver that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.” (Mal
The sons of Levi are the priests of the Jewish people. As I read this, I
can’t help but think of the good and holy priests, ministers, rabbis, imams,
gurus, lamas…leaders in all faith traditions who suffer greatly from the
sins of their brothers and sisters in ministry, and from the cover-ups by
their institutions. Malachi talks of enduring “fire and lye,” but he doesn’t
say they will perish. Instead, they will be refined. Extraneous material
will be purged so that the best of what remains will emerge, ready to be in
God’s presence. Let us pray for that to happen. And if you are feeling some
heat in your own life--bitterness or a harsh situation. See if you can allow
the trial you experience to burn away things that stand in your way of being