The readings for this Sunday provide us with two distinctive themes: a new reality characterized by a wedding and the challenge of life in the Spirit.
Everyone loves a wedding. It is a public manifestation of commitment, the beginning of a new family with all its promise and a great time for a party. If it is such a time of happiness, why do people cry at weddings? Might it be that they realize that the couple has moved beyond what is obvious and is creating something new and extraordinary, and they are basing the future of this new reality on trust in each other?
Was it by accident that Isaiah used the wedding metaphor to characterize the intimate bond between God and the people? Was it by accident that the first wondrous sign that John records occurred during a wedding feast? The answer to both questions is probably no.
Zion/Jerusalem had been destroyed. It was “Forsaken,” “Desolate.” But something new was about to take place. The wedding metaphor captures both its excitement and its hope. The excitement and hope that surged through the wedding feast that Jesus attended exemplified the excitement and hope that would mark his ministry.
Probably every one of us would rise to the occasion if we knew we had been chosen to make a difference. We would thrill to the idea of being chosen for any distinction. To think that we have what it takes to make a difference! Now that is something.
But we have been. We are the ones who have been chosen to change the world. We are the ones called to bring about the peace for which so many people long. We have been given the responsibility to reform our church. You may say: “We can’t do it.” Why not? Look at all of the marvelous gifts we have been given. The Letter to the Corinthians lists but a few: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing powers, the ability to perform mighty deeds, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues and their interpretation. We have indeed been chosen to make a difference.
What would happen if we considered this new year as the beginning of a new relationship with God, something like a wedding? How would the world change if each one of us took hold of even one of the marvelous gifts that we have been given by the Spirit and transformed our lives, like water transformed into good wine and then shared with others? Why can’t such transformation occur? Isaiah recounted how the devastated Israel was restored; John reports how water became wine. The same Spirit, the same Lord, the same God works in us. Why can’t it be done today?
• Today is a good day to renew your baptismal promises. What might they be calling you to do?
• What special gift have you received from God that you share with others?
• Read Psalm 96 slowly and prayerfully, realizing that God accomplishes marvels through ordinary people.