The Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese, 1563

God's Word on Sunday: A new song reveals God’s healing nature

  • January 19, 2019

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jan. 20 (Year C) Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 96; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-12

“Sing to the Lord a new song!” 

This line from Psalm 96 contains a profound truth. The path out of darkness, depression, hurt, loneliness and negativity lies in our ability and willingness to see things in a new, fresh and hopeful way. 

Often individuals and groups continue to play the same internal video over and over, providing a steady diet of guilt, shame, blame, anger, grief and resentment. People and whole societies can become quite soul-sick and miserable as a result. 

It is important to begin with a new story or song and to keep repeating it, even if one is not totally convinced at first. In a sense, it is a way of reprogramming consciousness and attitude. Our failure to do so is one of the reasons for growing discontent, unhappiness and anger in our cultures. 

The people of Israel suffered the trauma of destruction and exile in addition to disappointment after their return to Jerusalem. As a result, many found themselves unable to see themselves as loved by God or as the chosen people. 

The words of God, spoken through the prophet, were definitely a new song. Using words associated with beauty, glory and radiance, the people were told that the time for feeling rejected and miserable was over. The people were to think of themselves as beautiful, beloved and glorious. They were the delight of God, and the passage does not shrink from the language of intimacy and marriage. 

These were the healing words of a loving and gracious God, far removed from the punishing and angry God who many people cling to. In this sense, these words were also a revelation of God’s nature, perhaps healing many of those negative images. 

As for us, we should not underestimate the power of kind, encouraging and healing words — to others or ourselves. When we use them, we are continuing God’s holy work.

One of the causes of unhappiness and discontent in any group of people is the inability to appreciate the unique gifts of others or, for that matter, our own. It is easy to either look down on others as less gifted and worthy than we are, or to compare ourselves unfavourably with others. 

Paul sets the record straight: The gifts we mistakenly believe to be our own property or achievement are actually gifts of the spirit. As such, they are to be used for the common good and the well-being of others. If they are not, they are a gift hurled back in the Creator’s face. 

God’s light and Spirit are refracted through each one of us in a unique way. The only proper response is gratitude and a desire to serve. Sometimes the so-called interruptions in our plans are the finger of God. We can fight, resist and be resentful, or we can accept this change of plans and anticipate how God may be calling us. 

Jesus was relaxing with His mother and some disciples at a wedding feast. Then came his mother’s quiet but pointed statement: they have no more wine. At first Jesus was a little irritated — after all, His hour had not yet come. It was not in His plan to work one of His great signs that day. 

Mary did not know exactly what Jesus was going to do, but she was confident that He would respond. She simply told the wine stewards to do whatever He asked. Jesus changed the six large jars of water into wine. 

It seems like an odd miracle — all of His other miracles were to alleviate pain and suffering. He healed the blind, deaf and crippled, and raised people from the dead. By comparison, this miracle seems almost mundane and silly. But in a traditional culture, a family’s honour and place in the community was on the line. 

There are many ways to suffer, not all of them physical. Humiliation and shame are just as painful, and by His act of kindness, Jesus ensured that this family would be spared. 

The changing of the water to wine became part of the plan and mission of Jesus. Linked with Old Testament prophetic texts referring to the new wine of the last days, the evangelist signalled that with the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, the new age had begun. 

How do we respond to the “interruptions” that God sends to us?

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