Sunday, January 20, 2019

Jan. 20, 2019: 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time C

Jan. 20, 2019: 2nd Sunday Ordinary C

Have you ever prayed for a miracle? We pray for plenty of miracles when we watch LSU or Saints Football game, don’t we? This past week, the priests of our diocese gathered in New Orleans to better understand and minister to individuals and families with disabilities. At one session, a mother told us how she desperately clung to prayer when her husband abandoned her and the children, leaving her to make a living and take care of her children including her severely autistic child. She prayed for a long time for a miracle of healing for her autistic child. Although the miraculous healing never happened, other miracles abounded. In moments of loneliness and desperation, God sent her faith-filled strangers who came to her aid and filled her with hope. As she looked back the past 13 years since her husband left the family, she could only be grateful to God for allowing her to witness numerous miracles He performed for her and her family. 

Have you noticed that whenever Jesus performs miracles in Scriptures, he involves His disciples as part of his miracles? For example, Jesus could have produced out of thin-air enough bread and fish to feed the crowd of five thousand, but he challenged his disciples to be part of the solution in feeding the crowd. The baffled disciples managed to find a child with a few loves and fish and brought them before Jesus. But the disciples doubted what good those few meager items would do to satisfy the impossibly large crowd. Let’s contrast the response of the disciples with what Blessed Mother does in another miracle of Jesus, the ordinary water transformed into wine at the Wedding at Cana. It seems as though this miracle demonstrates for us what a perfect disciple would do in an impossible situation. 

Blessed Mother was present at a wedding in Cana and noticed an impending crisis. Before the couple and the wine steward noticed, she recognized that there was no wine left for the guests. Her love and compassion made her notice the details that others did not notice. Her merciful gaze at the desperate situation prompted her to bring the problem to the only one who could provide a  remedy. She approached her Son and interceded on behalf of the household, “Son, they have no wine,” confident that her Son would, out of mercy, miraculously intervene. Again, instead of simply producing wine out of thin air, Jesus asked the servants to fill the nearby jars with plain water. Then he miraculously transformed ordinary water into the best of the wines that the guests had ever tasted.  

Even today, Jesus involves all of us here in order to perform one of the greatest miracles: transforming ordinary bread into His very own flesh, and ordinary wine into His precious blood. During the offertory prayer, the priest recalls our cooperation in God’s miracle as he prays, “Blessed are you, Lord God of all Creation, for through your goodness we have this bread to offer, fruit of the earth and the work of human hands” and later, “through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and the work of human hands.” Our contribution and God’s goodness together will become for us the Bread of life and our spiritual drink. It’s so important for us to remember that God wants to include us in his saving work; He wants to save us and others with our cooperation. 

As followers and disciples of Christ, we need to have our eyes and hearts open to see other’s needs as Blessed Mother saw the problem at the Wedding at Cana. Just as she was merciful toward the needs of others, we need to emulate her merciful heart. We can learn from her how she solved impossible problems by bringing them to her Divine Son. St. Paul reminds us that God gives each of us gifts of the Holy Spirit to serve one another. If we use these spiritual gifts to live out our daily duties with love for God and neighbor, then God will work miracles in our lives, like the miracle of Cana.