2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Scripture Readings
Food For Thought
*excerpt from Take Time For Him: Remain In His Love
Praise God for His mercy in our everyday lives! The Wedding at Cana unveils His compassion evident in the watchful heart of Mary and generous intervention by her Son. As Pope Francis described during the Jubilee of Mercy,
The Lord is “merciful”: this word evokes a tender approach like that of a mother toward her child. Indeed, the Hebrew term used in the Bible evokes the viscera or even the maternal womb. Therefore, the image it suggests is that of a God who is moved and who softens for us like a mother when she takes her child in her arms, wanting only to love, protect, help, ready to give everything, even herself. This is the image that this term evokes. A love, therefore, which can be defined in the best sense as “visceral.”[i]
The visceral, or deep inward feelings, of a mother for her children cannot be matched. It moves her to sacrifice everything, even joyfully. She is their best advocate, always working for their good and looking to their future. She offers the most sympathetic comfort and the fiercest protection as Mary did in today’s passage.
Like His compassionate mother and merciful Father, Jesus protects us as a brother concerned for even the smallest of our struggles and rejoicing with us when we thrive. He demonstrated His selflessness and His commitment to family from the very beginning. Despite His long-awaited public ministry, He bent His plans around a wedding in Cana and performed His first miracle to meet the need that occurred there.
Consider Christ’s experience from a human perspective. Prior to His public ministry, Jesus had spent thirty years living a humble and seemingly ordinary Jewish life. After His baptism by John Jesus spent forty days in the desert praying and fasting. He returned from this preparation and began calling the apostles. Imagine Jesus’ excitement to begin after such patient waiting (remember His eagerness at age twelve in the temple?). Instead, He paused to travel back home and attend a wedding in nearby Cana, likely for a relative or family friends. The humanity of Jesus – the reality of His human relationships, real family, the limits of time and space – stand out. Like you and I, Jesus had to respond to various interruptions to His work. Yet, precisely by embracing those interruptions He sanctified them for you and me.
As usually happens at weddings there occurred a snag, and in this case an acutely embarrassing one which would shift the focus of the celebration to their poverty. Mary’s motherly love was watching out for them however, and she noticed they were nearly out of wine. Rather than worry the bride and bridegroom, she pleaded to Her Son for help. Like most children in response to parent requests, Jesus vocalized the inconvenience of the situation. He did not plan for His first miracle to be helping His mom at a wedding. Yet, in God’s divine providence, it revealed precisely the kind of love God’s miracles were intended for. God became man to enter our misery and the embarrassing limitations we experience. As Pope Francis said, “For God is great and powerful, and this greatness and power are used to love us, who are so small, so incompetent.”
What seemed like an interruption to His great messianic work however, precisely exemplified the paradoxical nature of the Kingdom of God and the way of discipleship. Greatness in God’s kingdom is expressed in littleness. Even if we love Christ with all our hearts, we can still be misled by worldly assumptions that we project onto our spiritual work. Consider the apostles and in particular the mother of James and John. They all expected to reign with Christ over an earthly glorious kingdom and kept being taken aback by the poor and sacrificial nature of Jesus’ kingship. We too can overlook the poor and sacrificial ministry right in front of us in the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of our family, neighbors, colleagues, and friends while we look to “more important work” for Christ. Yet it’s precisely these little things He wishes us to do with great love, as He impressed on the hearts of St. Therese and St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
God operates in the real, everyday of individuals. He did not come to offer propaganda for the masses. He came to care for His beloved children with the self-gift of a deeply loving father, mother, and brother. We can have confidence that He will have the same response toward our needs, no matter how seemingly insignificant they may seem to the world. The everyday difficulties and humiliations in our lives matter to God.
Faithfulness in mercy is the very being of God. For this reason God is totally and always trustworthy. A solid and steadfast presence. This is the assurance of our faith. Thus, in this Jubilee of Mercy, let us entrust ourselves to him totally, and experience the joy of being loved by this “God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness.”[ii]
We too are called to be the instruments of God’s mercy. May we act compassionately and promptly with Christ as Mary alerts us to the ordinary needs of those around us.
+ Consider the mystery of God’s immanence. The transcendent God, other from His creation, immune from suffering became man that He might share in our experience of pain so He could give us comfort.
+ How long do you wait to ask God for help? Do you reserve only your biggest problems for Him when you have run out of solutions? Consider bringing to Him every concern as it occurs and sharing the burden with Him.
+ Consider how motherhood or fatherhood has made you more compassionate, merciful, and aware of the needs of others. How has it opened you to spiritual motherhood or fatherhood toward those who aren’t even your biological children?
+ Intentionally entrust to God your difficulties each day this week – even the simple embarrassments.
+ Extend mercy and compassion toward your children or spiritual children this week. Bend toward someone’s need, save someone from humiliation, advocate for someone in need of help.
+ Pray for a tender heart like that of Christ’s.
[i] Pope Francis Wednesday Audience January 13, 2016 http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/audiences/2016/documents/papa-francesco_20160113_udienza-generale.html
For some practical examples of how you can practice these in your everyday life, read the full reflection in Take Time For Him: Remain in His Love ebook or paperback
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© 2021 Angela M Jendro