Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Sign of Abundance

Reflections on the Readings
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - January 20, 2013 Year C
The Year of Faith 

A Sign of Abundance

When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." 

I often write of my memories of growing up in the Pentecostal church. In that church manifestations of the Spirit were expected. I was taught and we believed they were a sign of the abundant life promised by Jesus and given in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church on the Day of Pentecost. In that community of faith we embraced the promise that as followers of Christ we were 'called by a new name,' as we read in the first reading from Isaiah. We were a new people with a new identity and destiny. Our expectation of the presence of the Holy Spirit gave us an awareness that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Life in the Spirit is forever new.

God himself holds us in his hand, as we hear in the first reading, like a glorious crown: we are a royal priesthood as St. Peter writes. (1 Peter 2:9)  The abundance of a new life is described by Isaiah.  The former life of Forsaken and Desolate is just that.  The old is passed away and behold, all things are new.  "For the Lord delights in you and makes your land his spouse."  On real estate called Mount Calvary this all comes to pass. On an Old Rugged cross outside of Jerusalem our Maker married us. In his last words he finished his solemn passion to bring us into a deep encounter with God. Through the eyes of faith we beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father and from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace.

In his book, Toward a New Pentecost For a New Evangelization, Father Kilian McDonnell, OSB, writes: "This life in the Holy Spirit is spirituality among others in the Church. It is the spirituality of the Church." We all drink of one Spirit, Paul writes. And from the same Spirit are varieties of gifts given to each one for the common good.  These varieties of gifts have a common origin: they come from the same Spirit. There are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. Thus do we hear in the second reading: All of the love gifts of the Spirit are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

Do you ever have that gnawing feeling that you're running out energy? That the light of Christ could be brighter in your life? That the 'running on empty' light has come on in your life yet there seems to be no way to stop long enough to fill up? Have you looked at your personal or corporate or church three and five year strategic goals and realize that not one goal has been reached yet?

The story is told of a delegation visiting the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England where the well known Charles Haddon Spurgeon pastored.  The famed pastor greeted his visitors and then offered to show them the heating system of the church.  The visitors looked at each other but did not want to offend their host. Spurgeon led them down into the lower recesses of the huge Tabernacle.  Momentarily he opened the door into a room where there was a gathering of folks praying for the minister and ministries of their church in the midst of London.

We become aware of God in prayer.  Fervent expectant prayer makes us aware that there is an abundance in God the like of which is beyond and above all that we can ask for or imagine. David captured this when he sang, "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not cup runneth over!" 

In Cana there was a marriage and the reception was in full swing. However, they were running out of wine. And the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." Blessed John Paul II, in a 1997 catechesis, said that Mary's words "expresses her concern to him about the situation, expecting him to solve it.  More precisely, according to some exegetes, his Mother is expecting an extraordinary sign, since Jesus had no wine at his disposal." 

Without pressing him, Mary, who is the first to believe in him, lets her faith rest in her Son's providence.  She does so by saying to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."  
John Paul II continues: Mary's request: "Do whatever he tells you," keeps its ever timely value for Christians of every age and is destined to renew its marvelous effect in everyone's life. It is an exhortation to trust without hesitation, especially when one does not understand the meaning or benefit of what Christ asks. 

As in the account of the Canaanite woman (Mt 15:24-26), Jesus' apparent refusal exalts the woman's faith, so that her Son's words, "My hour has not yet come", together with the working of the first miracle, demonstrate the Mother's great faith and the power of her prayer. 

The episode of the wedding at Cana urges us to be courageous in faith and to experience in our lives the truth of the Gospel words: "Ask, and it will be given you" (Mt 7:7; Lk 11:9). 

I began talking about living in an expectation of the Spirit's working.  Mary, the Mother of Jesus gives us a reason to trust in her Son and to have an expectant faith in Him.  A vibrant faith in Christ helps us to live in a personal awareness of his love and his life in us through the Spirit.  This first miracle of Jesus is a sign. This miraculous turning of the water into wine teaches us that there is in Christ all we need.  It is a sign of abundance and that in Him we will have all we need.  Amen.

Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN.  Prior to his uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. You can email him at   His website is:

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