Second Sunday of Ordinary Time • Year C

Joseph L. Narog, O.S.A.
Director of Vocations and Initial Formation
Province of St. Thomas of Villanova

Isaiah 62:1-5
Ps 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10
1 Cor 12:4-11
John 2:1-12

This “Extraordinary” Ordinary Time

Well, here we are back in what we call “Ordinary Time.” That term always has struck me as a bit curious though. I certainly understand the need to make the distinction from the special seasons of the Church year, like the Christmas Season that just ended last Sunday with the Baptism of the Lord. But, as I’ve often said, there’s little that’s “ordinary” about Ordinary Time. For our God is with us in this time, at all times – in the day to day of our lives – continuing to bless us, to produce “spiritual gifts” in us, to love us. Our 1st Reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah puts it quite beautifully – “the Lord delights in you…and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.” It doesn’t get much better than that, does it? But do we believe it?

Do we act like people who believe that God loves us, delights in us, rejoices in us? My guess is that we often forget it in the craziness, busyness of our days. Perhaps we don’t even take notice of the hand of God in our lives. St. Augustine seemed to think so. He once wrote, “because humankind would rather abandon for other concerns its consideration of God’s works – for which it ought to give praise, daily, to the Creator – God makes use of the extraordinary… A dead man rose and people are amazed; many are born each day and no one remarks (about) it.” (Treatise on St. John’s Gospel 8, 1, 3)

Or maybe we doubt, in the sometimes messiness of our lives, that God does love us. How could God delight in me? I goofed up again. How could God rejoice in me? I keep making the same mistakes. I definitely could be a better friend, roommate, daughter, son, spouse, Augustinian. There are problems, issues, concerns; we have so much on our minds. Distracted, harried, we overlook God’s abundant love and mercy. We forget that Christ is with us always, even in the ordinary, in the mundane and routine. We don’t recognize our gifts. Perhaps we’re too preoccupied with what others have.

In referring to today’s Gospel, Benjamin Franklin joins St. Augustine in advising us ‘to wake up and smell the coffee,’ ‘to stop and smell the roses.’ In fact, sharing an idea, originally contained in Augustine’s works, Franklin is credited with writing a friend, “We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana as a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Rain descends from heaven upon our vineyards and eventually that water brings us wine.” Franklin concludes, “The miracle at the wedding feast of Cana simply sped up the process. All of this is constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.” Wow!

I enjoy using that quote as part of the blessing I do at wedding receptions. It’s easy to see the analogy in a room full of wine, full of love. So why not in this room, in this place where we share in the bread and the wine, in a taste of the heavenly feast? What greater sign do we have of God’s love and care for us than the Eucharist? It’s the ultimate proof that God does love to see us happy and fulfilled – and ready to do something with what we’re given.

If we pay attention, we can’t help but be moved with gratitude and a willingness to share our time, our talent – our gifts. As St. Paul assures us in the 2nd Reading, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” Did we ever consider that we’re like the water that Jesus transformed into fine wine? Each of us a miracle, each of us a gift. The only difference is that we’re not meant to be served, but to serve. There certainly are “different forms of service,” but we’re all called to serve. This is the perfect time to reflect on that – on this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend and tomorrow’s Day of Service.

So how will we respond? How will we be signs of God’s mercy, love, and care? It does require some discernment. It requires staying attuned to God in the ordinary of our lives. In our communication with Jesus, we need to be sure not just to talk, but also to listen – and to follow the advice of his mother, Mary, “Do whatever he tells you.” Do whatever Jesus the Christ asks of us, for then we can’t go wrong. It’s then that his glory is revealed at work in and through us, much as happened at that wedding in Cana, much as happens every day.

God truly does delight in you and me; God rejoices in us, loves us – and loves to see us happy! Now doesn’t that make even the most ordinary day “extraordinary?” When we keep our eyes and ears open, when we commit to follow Christ, we experience a meaning and a purpose that carries us through the highs and the lows, the rewards and the challenges – one day at a time…