Scripture Readings, Jan. 16, 2022

Jan. 16, 2022 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Isaiah 62:1-5

Psalm 96:1-3, 7-10

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

John 2:1-11

I have four witnesses. It was the eve of the 2016 March for Life, and things weren’t looking good. “Snowpocalypse” was being predicted from every corner. It would strike the next night, and risked snowing-in the East Coast for days. Four other chaperones and I were charged with the welfare of more than a dozen high school students from Holy Family Parish and St. Mary’s Springs Academy in Fond du Lac. We either got out early or might not get out alive. At least, it felt that way at the time.

Resigned to the fact that missing the March was the least of our worries, we were prepared to take whatever flight changes we could get in order to fly out before the storm struck. And so we hit the phones, along with every other person planning to fly into or out of the East Coast that weekend. We eventually got a customer service rep on the line and I explained our plight, asking if there was any way to bump our flights up a day. She put us on hold, and as we waited, and waited, and waited, I looked up at our quorum and was moved to begin praying the Memorare with them:

“Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, we fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, our Mother. To thee do we come, before thee we stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer us. Amen.”

No sooner had we finished our prayer than our representative got back on the line and informed us that she could fly every last one of us out the following late-afternoon. The miracle of Mary’s providential protection in this struck us right then, but it sank in even more the next day as we were able to attend the March (with our bags packed), tromp directly over to the airport, and board what became one of the last planes to be de-iced and get off that runway before “Snowmageddon” set in. I have a friend who became “famous” that weekend for celebrating Mass on a makeshift snow altar for the dozens of buses’ worth of pilgrims stranded on the Pennsylvania Turnpike the next morning. God had memorable graces to bestow on everyone that weekend.

“They have no wine.” That was Mary’s simple exhortation to Jesus at the wedding feast in Cana. It was her proverbial plea on our behalf that night in Washington, D.C., as we turned to her for assistance. It seems to be the circumstance in which Mary most loves to fulfill her role as the Gebirah, or “Queen-Mother-of-the-King,” whose roles in the Davidic kingdom included intercession before her son the king for the needs of the people. When wine runs out, either literally or proverbially, Mary gladly steps in on our behalf.

Her son, in turn, although he has a larger picture in view as Creator and sustainer of the universe, gladly heeds her requests and responds to them generously. At the wedding in Cana, Jesus was aware that the hour had not yet come for him to inaugurate the Messianic banquet prophesied by Isaiah: “On this mountain (that is, Jerusalem, the Mountain of Zion,) the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples, a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations. He will destroy death forever. The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces; the reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 25:6-8)

That banquet he would indeed inaugurate in Jerusalem at the hour of his passion and death. Then he would provide the superabundant wine of his life-saving blood for all peoples. But as a sign of that banquet yet to come, he provides at Mary’s request for the needs of this smaller banquet in Cana, transforming superabundant amounts of water into wine. In doing so, he stepped unobtrusively into the role of Cana’s bridegroom that day, since it was the bridegroom’s responsibility to provide the wine, as Jesus himself reminds Mary (cf. John 2:4) and as the headwaiter takes for granted in his later praise (cf. John 2:9-10). This too, Jesus incorporates into this first sign of his, knowing that when his own hour came, he would step into the role of Divine Bridegroom again prophesied by Isaiah and proclaimed in our First Reading this Sunday: “As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; And as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.” (Isaiah 62:5)

Run to Mary when your wine runs dry. And as you do, follow her exhortation to “Do whatever (our Lord) tells you” (John 2:5), since his plans as our Builder and Beloved will far outdo any ones we lay, and so reveal his glory.