Reflection for Sunday – January 16, 2022
Readings: Isaiah 62: 1-5; 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11; John 2: 1-11
Preacher: Marlene Bessette
As a woman and a mother, the interchange between Jesus and Mary at the Cana wedding feast is always a little jarring to me. “Woman, how does your concern affect me?”
Reading this immediately brought back an unpleasant memory of an interchange I had with one of my children during a not so wonderful period of early teenagerhood. I was explaining why some behavior or action of theirs had upset me and what needed to change. Honestly, I can’t even remember what it was about. But what I will never forget is how, as I concluded my impassioned plea for some response, my child calmly looked at me and dismissively said, “Are you done?” And slowly closed the door, leaving me speechless in the hallway.
This event is seared into my memory, not only because it was the first time I ever experienced an abrupt and seemingly unfeeling response from my child, but because it forced me to face the fact that my baby was growing up and had entered that scary period of change. Although as parents, we do our best to guide those changes, in the end, our children will define their own path. And we can only hope and pray that they will become the best version of who they are uniquely meant to be.
Now, I am not comparing Jesus to petulant teenagers who are trying to find themselves. The parallel for me is the fact that he is at the beginning of his ministry; he is beginning his journey of “becoming” …becoming our teacher, becoming our friend, becoming our Lord and Savior. And in his “becoming,” throughout all the good word of the gospels, he will show us what it looks like to become a Christian.
So, in today’s gospel, Jesus, in what sounds like an abrupt statement to our 21st century sensibilities, seems to be telling his mother he can’t respond to her request. Although he knows he can work a miracle that would astound everyone present, he won’t because as he tells his mother “My time has not yet come.” He’s not yet ready to reveal his full majesty or divinity. He has other things He must do first—gather his disciples, teach them, and most importantly, show them through his example what it means to follow him.
Now we all know that he does end up performing the miracle, but he does it without fanfare and only the servants who filled the water jars, his first few disciples, and his mother knew what actually happened. Because If Jesus started his ministry being widely known as a miracle worker, rather than a teacher and rabbi, how could the disciples learn how to be like Christ?
And how could Jesus show us the transformative power of His love if our faith in him and the example he sets for us to follow comes first and foremost through miracles? Throughout the gospels, Jesus teaches his disciples, and us, by example. Through his interactions with the poor, the rich, the powerful and the lowly, we learn what we must do to “become” the people that God intends us to be.
Through this journey of “becoming” Jesus takes ordinary people and makes them extraordinary. And when we recognize our abilities and gifts and use them for the good of the Kingdom as Jesus teaches, we can become extraordinary too. The second reading today speaks of the active nature of the gifts given by the Spirit, that “to each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” So whether it’s wisdom, faith, healing or mighty deeds, our gifts make us extraordinary when we use them to the benefit and glory of God.
Regardless of where we are in our life; teenager, young adult, middle-ager, or senior, we are constantly deepening our understanding and growing into our gifts. But sometimes figuring out how we’re supposed to be using our gifts can be confusing and even scary. So remember Mary’s direction to the servants in today’s gospel, “Do whatever he tells you.” This is very good advice for us today. Whenever I’m at a transition point and maybe scared about what is coming next, I pray to understand how to use my God given gifts to bring the kingdom of God into our world. I pray for the insight of how to always continue to become the person God desires me to be. May God bless you on your journey of “becoming.”
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That was a moving account of “becoming.”
As you said, it can be shocking and set us on our heels as did your child’s door closing incident. It can also be a slow and bumpy ride with many twists and turns. As a friend once told me, “Life can be messy.” Perseverance is sometimes the only way.
P.S. Your biography needs to be updated. It refers to your Theology degree in the future of 2016.
Marlene, What a great take on this Gospel passage. I never thought about how wise it was that his ministry didn’t begin with a miracle, would have made him into a magician. Thank you for sharing your insights.