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Weekly Bible Reflection
Luke: Signs of the Kingdom


Second Sunday of Epiphany

Text: John 2. 1-11
" Getting the Timing Right"

Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
Sharing Together:

Recall an occasion when you were asked to do something for which you weren’t prepared, sufficiently experienced or fully equipped.

Did you do it? How do you feel about that event now?
A Window on the Text

In the New Living Translation of the Bible this reading from John’s gospel concludes a section headed ‘The Birth and Preparation of Jesus’. Following on from his baptism and the gathering of the first five disciples, gradually the scene is being set. Jesus is now an adult, his life taking shape, and he is beginning to attract attention (John 1.36, 41 & 43). But is he really ready to begin his formal ministry?

Here we find Jesus attending a village wedding, to which his mother too has been invited, and to which he goes with his new-found followers. A wedding was a community event at which anyone is welcome. Perhaps it is not surprising in those circumstances that, over the days of celebration and with indeterminate numbers of guests, the wine might run out.

Mary turns to Jesus. But why? Whatever was she expecting him to do? Slip out quietly to the local off-licence for a few more bottles? Whatever she hoped, Jesus brushes off the suggestion that now is the moment for him to take responsibility. But Mary is not to be put off by his mild rebuke and draws in the servants, making it difficult for Jesus to refuse her, more public, request.

It is customary for theologians to see this event as, in some way, pre-figuring the end of Jesus life when blood shed becomes wine.

It is no less miraculous to see the event in more earthly terms. A young man at the beginning of a new stage of life needing:

  • a situation which demanded his gifts,
  • his Mother to give him one last push from the nest and into independence,
  • his first test to be within a domestic situation, and with a safe supportive community around him,
  • his escape routes to be blocked, leaving no alternatives.
Responding as a community
  1. In what ways have you, as a community, helped each other to develop and grow in your personal lives as Christians? How might you do so again in the near future?

  2. What does this incident tell us about the place of celebrations in people’s lives? Share stories of really positive outcomes from such occasions.

  3. How can relationships that have ‘run out’ of steam be renewed? What steps can married couples take to keep their marriage relationship alive?
Praying Together
  • Recall those people who, at various stages of your lives, have precipitated you into a step of personal growth. Light candles in their memory and give thanks to God for their wisdom, courage and faith in you.

  • Pray for those new challenges that were identified in the discussion. For …
      • Wisdom to know when to act
      • Courage to intervene
      • Faith, that your intervention will work out all right.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

[Reinhold Neibuhr]

  • Prayer for the honouring of the institution of marriage in society.

  • Prayer that as a church community you will be a sign of God’s abundance, generosity and grace.

  • End saying the Lord’s Prayer together and offering a blessing on each others lives.
Going Deeper
  1. At the time of Jesus in Palestine, a typical wedding feast would last at least seven days. This incident may have happened on the third day so there were several days left for the celebrating.

  2. Wine was the usual beverage at meal times. When weddings were held, friends and family of the host would send gifts of wine in advance of the reception. Running out of wine posed a real threat of loss of honour. It suggests the host had few friends. Relatives were obliged to help provide the gifts in such circumstances. Through his action, Jesus, who may well have been related in some way to the groom through Mary’s family, rescues the honour of the bridegroom.

  3. Six stone water jars, holding 20-30 gallons equals is a lot of wine. Note that the jars were empty so fresh water was needed. This new wine is created in old jars used for the Jewish purification rites, symbolizing that the old forms are given new content. Plenty of good quality wine was a sign of the joyous arrival of the age of God's kingdom.

  4. The word to "fill" (gemizo) occurs again in John 6 verse 13 when the disciples fill up 12 baskets of bread left over after the feeding of the 5,000 (6:13). Maybe John intends the reader to connect the two signs involving bread and wine.

  5. See William Loader’s comments at http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkEpiphany2.htm

 

 


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