YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 2ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: PERFECT LOVER & JOYFUL GOD
BY: Fr. Gerald M. Musa
HOMILY: The Lord is fond of giving a new name to those he loves. Abram (High Father) was changed to Abraham (Father of multitude, Genesis 17:5); Sarai (My Princess) was changed to Sarah (Mother of nations, Genesis 17:15); Jacob (Supplanter) was changed to Israel (Having Power with God, Genesis 32:28); Simon (God has heard) was changed to Peter (Rock, John 1:42). One would wonder why God changes the names of those he loves most. In most cases the names that God gives are closely related to the mission or assignment of the person. In the case of Abraham, he made him the father of a multitude of nations; for Peter, it was because he was appointed to be the visible head of the church.
Isaiah proclaims that God was going to give to Israel a new name ‘my delight’ (Hephzibah). By this action God was saying to the people of Israel ‘I am the perfect lover who will change your situation from worse to better. You have followed other lovers who have made your situation worse such as the gods of the Assyrians and that of the Babylonians.’ The change of name implies a change of attitude also as in the approach of the religion of the new covenant, which is demonstrated by Jesus.
When God chose Israel as his people, he considered his relationship with them as that between a bridegroom and his bride. When the people of Israel, his beloved people were sad and frustrated he rekindled their hope. Israel was very unfaithful in keeping the laws of the covenant. Their unfaithfulness led them to captivity and to untold suffering. They suffered defeat and captivity in the hands of the Assyrians and the Babylonians. The years of captivity were over and Israel had to begin life all over again. They felt very much forsaken as their enemies devastated their land and broke down their most cherished structures. The Lord came to their rescue and spoke words of hope and consolation to them.
God’s relationship with Israel gives us a perfect example of how a husband should treat his wife. In the New Testament, Christ established a new relationship with the new Israel, which is the Church. In this new relationship, Jesus is the bridegroom and the church is his bride. This relationship, like the one of the old covenant, is a relationship of unfailing love. The scripture says, “husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:25-27).
Jesus sees the love of a husband for his wife as a perfect symbol of his love for his church. One would wonder why Jesus went to a rowdy celebration of wedding. As a religious teacher, it was ‘normal’ for the people to hear him preach, teach and pray, but it was abnormal to see him drinking, dancing, jubilating and celebrating. Jesus came to refine and redefine religion and he chose to begin this at a wedding party. He changed water into wine to keep the celebration going. This is to show that he has come to bring joy to the world because wine symbolises happiness. Psalm 104:15 affirms that God provides “wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread to strengthen man’s heart.”
Jesus made the people understand there is a bright side to life and that religion has a social dimension. At the wedding in Cana, Jesus demonstrated God’s interest in human affairs and his loving providence. We are unlike Jesus when we become anti-social in the name of religion and refuse to join in any celebration; we put religion on a reverse gear when stubbornly refuse to attend community meetings or other social gatherings that promote peace and progress in the community; we misinterpret religion when we dodge and evade social responsibility in the name of religion. We degrade our faith when we neither greet nor interact with their neighbours in the name of piety. In order to defend our anti-social stand we quote the biblical verse, which says, “Light has nothing to do with darkness” (2 Corinthians 6:14). But how can the people in darkness see the light, unless someone brings it to them? Jesus tells us to let our light shine in the darkness of the world.
Gloomy Christians are called “Good Friday Christians”, because they are yet to experience or are unable to express the joy of the Easter Sunday. No one can claim to be a good Christian just because he does not eat certain foods or wines, or simply because he does not smoke. There is more to the Christian religion than abstaining from these. Jesus says, “It is not what goes into a man’s mouth that defiles him, but what comes out of his heart” (Matthew 15:10). Our God is a God who perfectly loves us and delights in us and He wants us to enjoy a living community of joy.
2nd Sunday of the Year C/ Isaiah 62:1-5; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-11