Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons - 20 Jan 2019

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Brothers and sisters:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit. (1Cor 12; 4-7)

I feel I ought to apologise to those who read my sharing's each week, often you will get a response to something that has cropped up in my own life or horizon! I wonder if I am not being too narrow in my vision, a problem I think all of us, who minister and work in any pastoral or spiritual way with others, face and encounter on a regular basis. Being human we cannot know everything, my understanding comes via a life lived in a particular way, but, and here I pick up the theme St Paul shares in his exposition of the gifts of the Spirit in I Corinthians, I must not let my confined world-view stop me from being open to the works of the Spirit in and with me! My hesitation about how uninformed or how unaware I am, needs to give way to a deeper call, the response to the Spirit who urges me to reach out with the assurance that the real issues are ones we will sort out if we take the trouble to be truthful in love.

I detect a bit of this kind of honest hesitancy and truthful love in the story of the Wedding at Cana in Galilee. Don't take this as great scriptural exegesis, I'm picking up on images that leap out at me, such as key people like Mary the Mother of Jesus or the head waiter and servers, who as Luke says about this great miracle, 'knew' just what had happened. It's a marvellous but enigmatic miracle, there's no healing involved, no forgiveness of sins, no declaration of faith by somebody prominent in the story, but there are clues as to struggles within the minds and hearts of people who could not really bring themselves to say what they knew or articulate openly what had happened.

Let's try to link it to that image of gift that Paul talks about, for me the two words that are crucial are DIFFERENT and SAME. At Cana we have a setting that becomes a theme in the ministry of Jesus, a wedding, an event that he is forever telling us is 'like the Kingdom', grab hold of that picture quickly, hold on to it! Whenever I listen to the doomsayers of the Church (and there are plenty), I do not detect a sense of joy about the Kingdom that is coming, only gloom and doom, punishment is their metier, banish that image!!

Instead Cana is our setting, where that wedding reveals the glory of Christ's love and the Spirit's work in so many things. Mary's perception, her watching for the signs, and her defiance of Jesus telling him that he is needed, almost a 'get on with it', is what we need more of, honest, truthful, visionary, strong people who can challenge the gloom, see beyond the immediate, who know the Lord and walk with him each day. It's not for nothing it is Mary and a woman, it's a reminder that the poor and lowly who watch and look are the greatest not the Prelate and Pope and President who do not see, so build on that!

Then those who realise who Christ is, and see in Cana's feast, the Kingdom of God at work who truly 'know' the change of water into good wine, are not the high ones, not the Bride or Groom or Parents or Honoured Guests, no it is those who watch, work, toil and serve unceasingly who experience Christ's touch and savour the change. They are a crucial part of the miracle for if they had not worked, toiled, brought, SEEN and tasted, Cana would not be! The important point to reflect on is that we need to look beyond the immediate, watch for Christ, to see that difference is important and must be accepted, but know that difference does not divide, it enriches - just as the Lord enriched the water at Cana to become pure wine! So be of courage, look forward not back, and embrace the invitation of the lord to share in the wedding feast of the kingdom! Though we are all different we all share in that ONE loving cup of Christ's wine.

Lectio Divina

From 'Being Disciples' - 2007 Fulcrum Conference Address. Rowan Williams

Disciples watch, they remain alert, attentive, watching symbolic acts as well as listening for words; watching the actions that give the clue to reality being re-organized around Jesus. Let me just remind you of the beginning of John's story once again - the wedding at Cana (St John 2.11): Jesus performed this first miracle in Cana in Galilee. There he revealed his glory, he made his glory to be seen. And his disciples believed in him, his disciples trusted him. They see what's going on and something connects…

At the primary level, that will mean learning and deepening our attentiveness to the Bible, to the sacraments and to the life of the Body of Christ. And secondly, arising out of that, it means learning a level of attentiveness to all persons, places and things, looking at everything with the eye of expectancy, waiting for something of God to blossom within it. Being in Christ's company, learning attentiveness and practicing that kind of still alertness that is looking and waiting for the light to break through. Then thirdly, it means being attentive to where Christ is going, keeping company with those he's with. Among them we will find the most unexpected and unlikely characters, the kinds of people that Jesus seems to spend so much time with in the gospels and today. Most importantly we will find him keeping company with the Father, in whose company he eternally is.


Of the Marriage at Cana

By Rainer Maria Rilke, German poet (+1926)

Could she do otherwise than be proud
of him who made the simplest beautiful to her?
Was not even the lofty, large-accustomed
night as if beside itself when he appeared?

Did not also his once having lost himself
incredibly redound to his glory?
Had not the wisest exchanged ears
for mouths? And was not the house

as new at his voice? Ah,
surely she had hundreds of times restrained
herelf from radiating her delight
in him. She followed him amazed.

But there at that wedding feast,
when unexpectedly there was no wine, -
she looked across and begged him for a gesture
and did not understand that he protested.

And then he did it. She realized later
how she had pressed him into his way:
for now he really was performing miracles,
and the whole sacrifice was decreed,

irresistibly. Yes, it was written.
But was it already then prepared?
She: she had brought it on
in the blindness of her vanity.

At the table full of fruits and vegetables
she rejoiced with the rest and did not understand
that the water of her tear-glands
had turned to blood with this wine.

Fr Robin Gibbons is an Eastern Rite Catholic Chaplain for Melkites in the UK. He is also an Ecumenical Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.

Tags: Sunday Reflection, Fr Robin Gibbons, Wedding at Cana

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