Sunday Scriptures

Ask for the Grace to Listen and Obey

By Father Alonzo Q. Fox

Last Sunday, with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, the Church concluded the Christmas season. I mentioned to my parishioners at Mass that when they come back to Church this Sunday, all of the Christmas trees will be gone, all the pine wreaths, red bows and poinsettias will be out of the sanctuary. We have joyfully celebrated the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Now that the celebration is over, we must conform our lives to Him. That will take some time and some deep spiritual work.

During the Christmas season, we recall the manifestation of the Lord. We see this manifestation at his birth in Bethlehem, to the Magi at the Epiphany and we see it today at the wedding feast at Cana.

Our Gospel today shows our Lord at a wedding in Cana with his mother and his disciples. All seemed to be going well, until the worst happened: They ran out of wine! I can only imagine the hysteria that could have been going on behind the scenes. What were they going to do? Mary tells Jesus all of this and I love His response, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” I don’t think it was the answer Mary was looking for, but what she says to the servers right after is the greatest statement of faith about our Lord ever known. Mary says to the servers: “Do whatever he tells you.”

There were many moments in my life growing up that I did not like being told what to do. Even as an adult, it’s tough for me to be told what to do. It is a very human trait that many of us fall into at one point or another. Mary is inviting us to surrender those emotions that hinder our relationship with the Lord and to trust Him. The Lord knows our hearts better than anyone on this earth. We must do what He tells us.

What are the end results when we do what the Lord tells us? We see it as He turns water into wine. We see how Jesus reveals Himself to us once we let go of our own wants and desires and we trust Him. We hear in today’s second reading from Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians that we must allow the Spirit of God to be at work within us. To truly do what the Lord asks of us, we must ask the Holy Spirit to give us the grace we need to listen and to obey.

St. Paul says, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

As disciples of the Lord, we are called to place our trust in Him. We see how this miracle in Cana changed the lives of His disciples as they began to believe in Him. Let us pray that by the power and working of the Holy Spirit we will be able to let go of our fears, worries, doubts and imperfections. Once we do, we will be able to carry out the words of Mary, mother of Jesus, to do whatever He tells us.

Readings for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 62: 1-5
Psalm 96: 1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10
1 Corinthians 12: 4-11
John 2: 1-11

Father Cox is the pastor of St. Martin de Porres parish, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and diocesan coordinator of ministry to African-American Catholics.

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