Isaiah 62: 1 – 5

As we return to ordinary time, that is, time ordered according to God’s plan for his Kingdom, we hear from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.  Since it is from chapter 62, we know that it is from Trito-Isaiah, and concerns the post-exilic time for Israel.  This part of Isaiah has, as its primary purpose, the encouragement of the anawim as they return to rebuild Jerusalem.  Our first reading contains just such a passage of hope for God’s people at one of the lowest moments of their history.  Jerusalem lay in ruins.  The city’s plight reflected that of the whole nation.  Israel, once God’s bride, was now like a childless widow.  However, her husband – God – has not forgotten her.  There will be a new wedding feast, and God and his people will be newlyweds again.  This prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus, as we will see in the Gospel.  Jesus replaces the old order with the new, symbolized by the changing of water into wine. 


It is difficult, however, to determine who sings this song.  The opening line is in the first person singular and refers to someone in the third person singular; who are these people? It continues by speaking of Jerusalem and the Lord, who are the principal characters of this song.  Although there is much debate among scripture scholars, many consider the entire poem to have been spoken by the prophet.



1  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.

2  Nations shall behold your vindication, and all kings your glory; You shall be called by a new name pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.


Nations shall behold your vindication, and all kings your glory: as we heard two weeks ago at the Feast of the Epiphany, through the coming of Jesus, all nations and king shall behold God’s glory.


New name: figurative expression for a new state of happiness (cf. Rev 2:17; 3:12).  


3  You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD, a royal diadem held by your God.

4  No more shall men call you “Forsaken,” or your land “Desolate,” But you shall be called “My Delight,” and your land “Espoused.” For the LORD delights in you, and makes your land his spouse.


“Espoused.” For the LORD delights in you, and makes your land his spouse: Similar to the promise we read in Hosea 2:21 – 22, God speaks of binding himself to his people in terms of a marriage.


5  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.



John 2:1 – 11


Even though we feature Luke’s Gospel in this, year C, we will hear from the second chapter of John’s Gospel today as we begin Ordinary time.  The Baptism of the Lord is always celebrated on the first Sunday of Ordinary Time.  Now, we hear of Jesus’ first miracle: changing water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana.  This continues the theme of a wedding that we heard about in today’s first reading.  And, the miracle of Cana links this Sunday with the previous two Sundays – Epiphany and Baptism – because all are epiphanies of Jesus’ glory. Of course, since it is found in John’s Gospel, it is not called a miracle but a sign, the first of John’s signs, which prefigures both the Eucharist and the heavenly banquet.  The Book of Signs begins here and continues to the end of chapter 6.  These signs reveal Jesus as the Messiah to all Israel. “Sign” (semeion) is John’s symbolic term for Jesus’ wondrous deeds (see Introduction). The Old Testament background lies in the Exodus story (cf Deut 11:3; 29:2). John is interested primarily in what the semeia signify: God’s intervention in human history in a new way through Jesus.


The seven signs are: 

  • Changing water into wine at Canain John 2:1-11 – “the first of the signs”
  • Healing the royal official’s son in Capernaum in John 4:46-54 
  • Healing the paralytic at Bethesda in John 5:1-15
  • Feeding the 5000 in John 6:5-14
  • Jesus walking on water in John 6:16-24
  • Healing the man blind from birth in John 9:1-7


The first sign. This story of replacement of Jewish ceremonial washings (John 2:6) presents the initial revelation about Jesus at the outset of his ministry. He manifests his glory and the disciples believe. There is no synoptic parallel.


Before we study the text, I invite you to think about this event a little differently.  Let me begin with a quote from a classmate of mine from the seminary; he is now the pastor at St. George Church in Glenolden.  He has always been a very dramatic person and I’ll never forget one of his more dramatic lines: “There’s nothing worth doing that isn’t worth overdoing.” Really, what wedding celebration needs 150 gallons of wine? But that is the amount of wine that would have filled the ceremonial water jugs mentioned in today’s Gospel.  This is the story John tells us as he begins to recount the public ministry of Jesus. The theological message seems to be that God is willing to go to extremes to demonstrate his love and care for us. 

While we have probably heard that the wedding at Cana showed Jesus’ blessing of marriage, I suggest that it has another, more important message.  Notice that the only member of the wedding party who even gets mentioned is the anonymous groom, and his only role is to hear that the new wine is better than the old.  The principal characters in the story are two of the wedding guests: Jesus and his mother. The secondary characters are servants. The family, disciples, bridesmaids, etc., are just extras. The entire plot flows around the wine and all that it symbolizes.

Obviously, this is not a story about marriage and family. Nevertheless, it is a story about a marriage feast – the heavenly wedding feast we’re all invited to attend at the end of our lives.  In John’s Gospel, it is the first act in the Messiah’s mission to bring the union of God and humanity to fulfillment. 

John the Evangelist called this the first of Jesus’ “signs,” events we often think of as miracles. But Jesus’ signs were far more than one-time miracles. They were portents of things to come. Jesus’ signs announced that something radically new was happening. We could consider the sign of the wedding wine as a living parable, a performance that explained Jesus’ first declaration of his mission when he said: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand!”  It is an anticipation of Jesus’ turning wine into his own living-giving Blood at the Last Supper and the “juicy, choice food and, delicious choice wine” that awaits us at the eternally heavenly banquet.



1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.


Cana: unknown from the Old Testament, yet if you take a tour of the Holy Land, your guide will certainly point out exactly where it was and if you have time, you can even stop in and buy some terrible local wine.


The mother of Jesus: she is never named in John.  


2 Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.

3 When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”

4 (And) Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”


Woman: a normal, polite form of address, but we have no other examples of its use in reference to one’s mother (cf. John 19:26).


how does your concern affect me?: as you see in your footnotes, this line is translated literally as, “What is this to me and to you?” This is a Hebrew expression of either hostility (Jdgs 11:12; 2 Chron 35:21; 1 Kings 17:18) or denial of common interest (Hosea 14:9; 2 Kings 3:13). In Mark’s Gospel (1:24; 5:7), it is used by demons to Jesus.  This saying may have been used to show that Jesus did not work miracles to help his family and friends, as one would read in the apocryphal gospels.


My hour has not yet come: the translation as a question (“Has not my hour now come?”), while preferable grammatically and supported by Greek Fathers, seems unlikely from a comparison with John 7:6,30. The “hour” is that of Jesus’ passion, death, resurrection, and ascension (John 13:1).  


5 His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons.


Twenty to thirty gallons: literally, “two or three measures”; the Attic liquid measure contained 39.39 liters. The vast quantity recalls prophecies of abundance in the last days (cf. Amos 9:13-14; Hosea 14:7; Jer 31:12).  


7 Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim.

8 Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it.


Headwaiter: this is a title used of the official who managed a banquet, but there is no evidence of such a functionary in Palestine. Perhaps here a friend of the family acted as master of ceremonies (cf. Sirach 32:1).  


9 And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom

10 and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.”

11 Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.


The beginning of his signs: the first of seven (see above).


his disciples began to believe in him: unlike the synoptic Gospels – and, in particular the Gospel of Mark, where the disciples are seen over and over again as not believing in Jesus – we see here that the disciples already begin to believe in Jesus.



1 Corinthians 12:4 – 11


Paul writes to the community he founded in Corinth and reminds the Christians there that Jesus has manifested the Spirit who distributes different gifts as he chooses for the building of God’s kingdom.  There are some features common to all charisms, despite their diversity: all are gifts (charismata), grace from outside ourselves; all are forms of service (diakoniai), an expression of their purpose and effect; and all are workings (energemata), in which God is at work. Paul associates each of these aspects with what later theology will call one of the persons of the Trinity, an early example of “appropriation.”  


4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;

5 there are different forms of service but the same Lord;

6 there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.

7 To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.

8 To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit;

9 to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit;

10 to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues.

11 But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.



As we return to Ordinary Time, I invite you to reflect on the close bond God has established with us through his Son and the ultimate destiny he has in store for us: an endless wedding feast flowing with good, choice wine!