January 13, 2010

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

By Brian Pizzalato *

First ReadingIs. 62:1-5

Responsorial PsalmPs. 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10

Second Reading1 Cor. 12:4-11

Gospel ReadingJn. 2:1-11

Have you ever noticed that Scripture begins and ends with a marital relationship in Genesis and in Revelation? “In the beginning,” after the creation of Eve from the side of Adam, we are told that Adam and Eve were created in a marital relationship: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gn 2:24). In the book of Revelation we are told that the “marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready” (Rv 19:7). Marriage is a truth that bookends the books of Sacred Scripture, and in fact, permeates everything in between. This fact is represented by the Old Testament reading and the Gospel reading for this taken, respectively taken from the prophet Isaiah and the Gospel of John.

There are many truths that we could consider regarding the marital covenant between a man and a woman, but the readings for this Sunday draw out one truth in particular, that is, the connection between a human marriage and the marriage between God and his people.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states clearly, “Since God created man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man” (1604). Unfortunately, because of original sin and individual and collective human sinfulness, this image can become obscured and distorted. However, “According to faith the disorder we notice so painfully does not stem from the nature of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin” (CCC, 1606).

The prophets speak of the spousal relationship between God and his people. In this Sunday’s reading from Isaiah we hear, “…as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you” (62:5b). Through the prophet Hosea, God says, “And in that day…you will call me, ‘My husband,’…And I will espouse you for ever; I will espouse you in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will espouse you in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord” (2:16a, 19-20).

In relation to this the Catechism tells us, “Seeing God’s covenant with Israel in the image of exclusive and faithful married love, the prophets prepared the Chosen People’s conscience for a deepened understanding of the unity and indissolubility of marriage” (1611). In other words, understanding the spousal relationship between God and his people can help us understand more fully the truths of human marriage.

Interestingly, when the people violate the covenant union established by God, it is often referred to as adultery and harlotry in the prophets. Hosea says, “Rejoice not, O Israel! Exult not like the peoples; for you have played the harlot, forsaking your God” (9:1). Hosea also says, “They are all adulterers” (7:4).

All of this leads to a consideration of the Gospel reading from St. John dealing with the wedding feast of Cana. In fact, “The nuptial covenant between God and his people Israel had prepared the way for the new and everlasting covenant in which the Son of God, by becoming incarnate and giving his life, has united to himself in a certain way all mankind saved by him, thus preparing for ‘the wedding-feast of the Lamb’” (CCC, 1612).

We must read the narrative of the wedding feast of Cana in light of these Old Testament passages. God is the one who is the divine bridegroom. Notice that the name of the bridegroom at the wedding feast of Cana goes unnamed. In fact Jesus is the one fulfilling the role of the bridegroom on a spiritual level. John the Baptist will go on to identify Jesus as the bridegroom. He says, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom [John], who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full” (Jn 3:29). Jesus will also identify himself as the bridegroom when questioned about why his disciples are not fasting: “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” (Mt 9:15). Jesus will also speak of those who reject him as an “evil and adulterous generation” (Mt. 12:39, 16:4). They are rejecting the bridegroom.

Jesus is the divine bridegroom who has come to espouse himself to his people forever. He wishes to bring about a one flesh union with those whom he has married through what the water being turned into wine points ahead toward, namely the feast when he turns bread and wine into his body, blood, soul and divinity.

John the Baptist called Jesus, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). In the book of Revelation Jesus is referred to as the Lamb over twenty times. This same book ends with the marriage of the divine Lamb to his bride who has made herself ready with righteous deeds. The angel says to John, and to you and me, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19:7). Let us make ourselves ready!

Brian Pizzalato is the Director of Catechesis, R.C.I.A. & Lay Apostolate, Diocese of Duluth and is a faculty member of the Philosophy department of the Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, England.

Brian writes a monthly column, “Veritatis Splendor,” for The Northern Cross of the Diocese of Duluth and his 33-part series on the sacraments for The Northern Cross have also been posted on Catholic News Agency's website, where he also authors a weekly column, “Road to Emmaus,” on the Sunday Readings, (which are translated into Romanian and posted on www.profamilia.ro).

Pizzalato is currently authoring the regular series, "Catechesis and Contemporary Culture," in The Sower, published by the Maryvale Institute. He is also author of the Philosophy of Religion course book for the B.A. in Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition at the Maryvale Institute.

Brian holds an M.A. in Theology and Christian Ministry with a Catechetics specialization and an M.A. in Philosophy from Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH. Brian currently pursuing an M.A. in Biblical Studies at the Augustine Institute in Denver, CO as well as being a Ph.D. candidate at the Maryvale Institute. Brian is married and has six children.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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