Meditation on This Week's Gospel
by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The readings for Sunday, January 17, 2010:
First Reading: Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm: Psalm 36:5-10
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Gospel: John 2:1-11
Today's Gospel presents the first miracle of Jesus, the turning of water into wine at a wedding. No doubt that some preachers across the country will take this opportunity to talk about weddings and the sanctity of marriage; they'll see the participation of Jesus as his sanction of this institution. Perhaps others will talk about miracles, while others talk about the proper way to treat one's mother.
I'm less interested in the marriage issue than in the miracle issue. In this Gospel, Jesus resists his mother's urging to help out with the wine. Why does he do that? Does he have a splashier miracle in mind as his announcement that he's arrived? Is it the typical rebellion of the child against the parent?
We don't know. We do know, based on the accounts of the Gospels, that Jesus performed many kinds of miracles. One day he's turning water into wine, and the next month he restores sight to the blind. Later he multiplies loaves and fishes, and then raises the dead. Much critical ink has been spilt over the issue of what these miracles mean. Some of them seem worthy of God, while others seem a bit frivolous.
You might make the argument that we shouldn't care about whether or not the wedding guests had wine. You might argue it's a trivial miracle.
You would then remind me of friends of mine who loftily declare that their petty problems shouldn't be a concern to God. Why tell God about my tough day at work, when God has quite a job ahead in Haiti? Why should I wine to God about my financial woes, when there are whole countries who live on less money than I make in a year?
The story of Jesus tells us that God wants to be with us more than anything else. God doesn't want to wait until we're in severe trouble. God wants to come to our weddings and parties. God wants to celebrate and drink wine with us.
In the story of Jesus and his mother, we also see a God who will listen to our requests. At first Jesus says no, then he relents. For those of us who are reluctant to ask God for what we need, we might take this lesson to heart.
We often protest that what we need is too hard for God to provide for us. But this miracle reminds us that we undersell God's talents.
What does Jesus need for this miracle? Water and jars. What could be simpler?
Perhaps this could be the year that we rid ourselves of our scarcity thinking. We worship a God of abundance and great giving. Rejoice in this good news.