Signs of Love

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

January 16th, 2022, Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - John 2:1-11

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
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We live in a world filled with signs. Most of them are sent to us via our computers, laptops, iPads, cell phones and television sets. It has been estimated that a typical person who uses these communicative devices will view more than a thousand signs and messages each day. And these signs are important, especially for companies selling things, but also for movements and groups and individuals selling ideas.

The first part of John’s Gospel is called the Book of Signs. Most of the signs are accounts of things Jesus did that communicated or illustrated his ideas and values. His actions embodied his thoughts. In today’s gospel, we have described for us in wonderful detail, the first of the signs mentioned by John, the Evangelist. Most of us are familiar with its general details. Just mention “the wedding feast at Cana” and images of worried hosts, an observant mom (Mary), a reluctant Jesus, a bunch of large earthen pots filled with water and a surprised headwaiter come to mind. I also like to imagine the grateful guests.

And it’s the setting itself that is important. Wedding feasts were special times in middle eastern culture at the time of Jesus. They could last for days. They also indicated who was valued by the families of the newly married couple. You had to receive a personal invitation. And the wine served was an important part of the festivities. To run out of vino would be considered a major societal faux pas.

Jesus often mentioned that the Kingdom or Reign of God was to be likened to a wedding feast. It was to be a time for joy (a favorite theme of Pope Francis) and gratitude. It was what God wanted for all God’s people. And all humans were invited to the feast. This first sign was to show that God is, first of all, one who loves and who loves a good time.

Obviously, there will be times of sadness and suffering, but in the end (and hopefully, a few times along the way) there would be feasting and enjoyment. And these times should be appreciated as special gifts from God. Water, the most common liquid in the universe is changed into wine, which can be the best and most enjoyable drink we might enjoy. Such great symbolism is a powerful sign of why God decided to share life and joy with all of us.

I once came across a rabbinic saying that captures this spirit. It goes something like this: God will hold us accountable for every pleasure God sends that we fail to enjoy. What great wisdom!   

©David M. Thomas, PhD


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