Ordinary 2nd Sunday – LIFE IN ABUNDANCE
ORDINARY 2ND SUNDAY
Is. 62: 1-5 1Cor. 12: 4-11 Jn. 2: 1-12
LIFE IN ABUNDANCE
A life of fullness is possible only by inviting God into our lives.
The evangelist John does not call the extraordinary works of Jesus as miracles, but as signs. For example, in the gospel, changing of water into wine at Cana is referred as sign by St. John (2: 11). A sign is basically something that points to something else. If so, St. John seems to communicate that what happened at Cana can serve as a pointer to understand something else. Let us try to unravel the symbolic value of the first sign of Jesus.
The incident of changing water into wine has got three stages: First, there was wine, but of inferior quality; In the second stage, there was no wine, and finally there was wine of superior quality. By mentioning that this new wine was of superior quality, St. John indirectly suggests what was served earlier was the wine of inferior quality. We can understand this passage in such a way that those three stages refer to three stages of search for happiness in our life. It is to be noted that wine in the Scripture is served as a metaphor for happiness.
It is our normal human experience that we try to derive our happiness from material things around us. It can be money, power, position etc. People normally go for those things, which they believe, would bring happiness into their lives. Those of us who think that money would bring happiness, seek money as earnestly as possible. Those of us who think that possession and comfort would make us happy, go after them. There are also people who believe that fame and popularity would elevate their level of happiness, and naturally popularity is the object of their search. Similarly people seek position, pleasure etc.. It is certainly true that the above material aspects of life do offer a certain amount of happiness (=wine).
We are aware that the type of happiness that we get from material world does not remain long. Material things do not offer us a sustained happiness. Achievement of people’s expectations certainly makes them happy, but it remains only for a few days. Then they begin to crave for something else or something more. People who intensify their effort to accumulate more, believing that something or the other would quench their thirst for happiness, sooner or later experientially realize that no material thing can quench their thirst for happiness. Here is where a person enters into the ‘no-wine’ stage. Jim Careey said, “I think everybody should get rich and fame and do everything they ever dreamed of, so that they can see that it is not the answer.” It leaves many disillusioned with life and they enter into a stage of dejection and lifelessness. It is unfortunate that many prefer to remain in this stage of dejection and gloominess, and pull through life till the end.
The parabolic incident, that took place at Cana, communicates to us that we need not be disillusioned with life. There is always God waiting for us to transform our lives and offer us a type of happiness that is of superior quality. When we allow God into our life, we begin to enjoy unlimited happiness from an unlimited Source. Material things cannot give us a lasting happiness, since their very nature is transient and temporary. A transient thing can offer us only transient happiness. God alone is everlasting and He alone can be the source of lasting happiness.
In Indian advaitic tradition, the Ultimate Reality is referred as sat-cit-ananda. Ānanda (Bliss) is the constituent characteristic of God and those who are in touch with God begin to taste the nectar of life. This is the wine of superior quality. One of the purposes of Jesus’ incarnation is to offer human beings this superior quality of life – a life of abundance and fullness (Jn. 10: 10)
In order to move towards this third stage of abundance and fullness, all that we are supposed to do is to invite Jesus into our lives, as Mary did at Cana. There are two things we need to do in order to invite God into our lives.
a). A Constant Striving: It is God’s wish that all of us live our lives to its maximum. But because of lack of effort, we continue to dwell on lower realms and unfortunately and many of us are quite contended with it. In the first reading, Isaiah says, “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch.” This verse informs us that the prophet was a torch bearer for the house of Israel which was under slavery and that he was ready to contribute his best for the liberation of his nation. “I do the very best I know how…and I mean to do so until the end” said Lincoln.
b). Sharing of our Spiritual Gifts with others: What gives so much of meaning and joy to our life is not what we receive from others, but what we give to others. What we receive makes our life possible, but what we give makes our life worthwhile. We may not have much of money to give to others. However we do have a lot of spiritual gifts which we can constantly share with others. In the second reading, St. Paul gives us a long list of charisms God bestows upon the members of His Church for its growth. Though we may not have all the gifts, certainly we have some of them. We are called to become aware of the spiritual gifts, given to us and share them with others. It is this sharing of our spiritual gifts that would elevate our own lives and that of others.