“When Jesus is Involved”

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C, January 16, 2022, St. Andrew’s Parish, Orozo, Abuja, Homily by Archbishop I. A. Kaigama

Readings: is. 62: 1-5; 95(96): 1-3, 7-10; 1 cor. 12: 4-11: jn. 2: 1-11

“When Jesus is Involved”

In Old Testament Jewish culture, weddings lasted seven days and hosts invited as many people as possible. A sudden shortage of wine at such a wedding ceremony was very capable of robbing the couple of their wedding joy. The timely intervention of Mary and Jesus providing the best of wines to the delight of the unnamed bridegroom and the bride in Cana, their family and friends, turned the near embarrassing situation to a joyful moment.

The miracle of Jesus at Cana is said by St. John to be His first “sign” worked to reveal His glory; and the water turned to wine symbolizes the old order yielding to the new. Jesus, the Son of God, is seen ushering in His Messianic era with the abundance of joy; a fulfillment of what the Lord said in Isaiah in the first reading today, where Israel is portrayed as a desolate widow bereft of children but was given hope. She would be remembered by her husband (God) and there would be a new wedding that would usher her into an era of joy and abundance.

God bestowed one of the highest honours on man by creating him in His image and likeness; with full dignity (cf. Gen. 1:26). However, this union of love and grace between God and humanity came to an end when man chose to sin and gave away his dignity. God went into another “marriage” again, this time it was with Israel. The more love He showed her, the more unfaithful she became.

As in marriage, where a man would express his displeasure when his wife proves unfaithful to him, God is shown here as one who is not happy with our sins, because sin distorts the image of God in us by putting a stain on our wedding garments of righteousness.

Like the bride and groom in our Gospel today, there are many people whose “wine of life” has run out, meaning that they suffer dejection and sadness. Many in our country are nervous like the groom of Cana; some live in bitter days and unhappy moments, without the privilege of a healthy and comfortable life, compounded by the indifference and insensitivity of leaders at all levels.

We need the wine of honesty enthusiasm, understanding, solidarity, mutual acceptance, self-giving, and forgiveness. Jesus challenges us today to convert the water of indifference and apathy to the wine of spiritual fervor.

The more we get closer to Jesus in prayer, the more we renew our strength. “Those who trust in the Lord for help will have their strength renewed. They will mount up wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak” (Is. 40:31).

We learn today that the same Jesus who provided an abundance of wine to the needy groom and the guests at Cana is still that Provident God who is available to supply all our needs, provided we trust that He is always there and He can do for us far more than we can ever ask or imagine (cf. Eph. 3:20).

At the wedding, Mary interceded for the couple. She had neither wealth nor money, but she had access to Jesus – the source of all joy. She knew that Jesus could change the present situation and so she reported it to Him in the humblest of ways: “they have no more wine” (Jn. 2:3). This emphasizes the place of Mary as the Comforter of the afflicted and the Help of Christians. We have nine intending spouses to be wedded today in this Mass. We pray that as Jesus, His mother Mary and the Apostles were present at the wedding in Cana, they may also be present in your homes to bring you an abundance of joy and heavenly blessing.

Like Mary, let us have the “eyes to see” the needs and challenges of others, to bring them relief, and to alleviate their troubles and frustrations. This is the message of St. Paul in the second reading where he urges us to use our spiritual gifts in the service of God for the betterment of humanity, as they are given to us to be used for mutual growth and for the edification and growth of the society and the Church. They are to be used selflessly and generously. St. Paul observes that instead of creating unity, the gifts in the Corinthian community became a source of arrogance, jealousy and division. It will be an act of self-deceit to imagine that this does not happen today in our Christian communities. In spite of the Jesus’ prayer that all His followers should be one (cf. Jn. 17:20-21), the scandal of disunity still persists in the Church. And if there is any major setback today that the Church must tackle it is the lack of unity of mind and heart, and disrespect for fellow Christians.

As we prepare to embark on our Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the Federal Capital Territory, 16th to 23rd January, visiting and praying in a different church denomination each day, we must allow the Holy Spirit to bind us together and to teach us to respect the gifts and talents of other Christians even if they seem insignificant in our eyes.

Everyone has something to offer in the society and in the Church. At this Mass, we have the choir, the altar servers, the lay readers, the Church wardens, the Zumuntan Mata, etc., each performing their roles to add beauty and dignity to the liturgy. In the eyes of God none of them is more important than the other. We must accept each other as God’s special gifts to be loved, respected and appreciated. Together, with the help of God, we can record many more successes and ascend to greater heights.

As the year 2022 is already speeding away, let us invite Mary our mother to intercede for us as she did for the couple of Cana, but we must be ready to take her advice: “Do whatever He tells you!” By so doing our water will turn into wine; our sorrows will be transformed into joys and our despair will be renewed in great hope.

In Nigeria we seem to transit from one major national challenge to another. We witness the criminal activities and mindless killings such as the recent attacks in Zamfara State, and efforts by terrorists to establish themselves as a government within a government, yet, the assurances of political leaders and security operatives always leave more to be desired.

Only yesterday, the Armed Forces Remembrance Day was well celebrated. We join millions of Nigerians to appreciate the sacrifices of our fallen and living heroes. We must continue to pray for the departed ones, expressing solidarity and showing kindness to the veterans and survivors, while urging Government to pay particular attention to the welfare of the men and women who have made selfless contributions to the search for durable peace for all Nigerians.

Unfortunately, we have become too uncertain about many things; unsure each day about what will become of our people if they go to the farms or streams, what may befall villagers at night, or even in broad daylight in the cities, where people get abducted in exchange for raw cash. Many families too are quickly running out of the wine of gladness as they are threatened by moral and social vices, economic hardship; arising from poor and corrupt governance. As Jesus filled the empty water jars with water turned into wine, we all have to beg God to fill our hearts and the hearts of others around us with genuine love.

Through the powerful intercession of Mary our Mother, may we experience especially in 2022, an abundance of joy, love and peace in our families, parishes, our nation Nigeria and the world at large. To all of you in St. Andrew’s, Orozo, I urge you not to forget Mary’s punchline today: “Do whatever He tells you.”

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