Sunday Sermon for January 20, 2013, the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Readings: Is 62:1-5; 1Cor 12:4-11; Jn 2:1-11

The Church has traditionally celebrated three events on the Feast of the Epiphany: the visit of the wise men, the baptism of our Lord and the Wedding at Cana. These are the three events that manifested the divinity of our Lord, so even though they were separated by many years, they showed His divinity to the world.

In the new order of things, these three events have been separated from one another and are now celebrated individually. However, they are still placed together in that for three Sundays in a row we have celebrated each of these events in themselves. It is fitting that we celebrate the baptism and the wedding at Cana at the beginning of the new liturgical season because they mark the beginning of our Lord’s public ministry.

We have to note immediately that Jesus did not begin His work until His Mother had concurred. Her intervention at the wedding would lead inescapably to the Cross where our Lord would wed Himself to His Church. Always cognizant of the dignity and freedom He has given us, He will not force Himself or His will in any manner. Just as He did not require His Mother’s permission to begin the work of redemption, He nevertheless required her to exercise her freedom to choose the rough and narrow path of the will of God.

Our Lord will never violate our dignity, so He waits for us, like He did His Mother, before He commences the work He desires to do in us. Sometimes we might find ourselves in disagreement with the previous statement saying that He has done many things in my life without my willing them. We have to see these events in our lives in a manner similar to what we see in the Gospel today.

God had set everything up without our Lady even thinking about it. However, when the moment arrived for the Lord to do the work He intended, He would not do it without our Lady’s cooperation. In our lives the Lord has allowed things to happen that work together to prepare us for whatever it is that He has created us to do. Some of these things are very positive and some are very negative. But, as Saint Paul reminds us, all things work together for good for those who believe.

In the readings today we not only have our Lord’s first miracle, but the first reading which complements it is about the choice God makes to wed Himself to Israel. We saw above that the Lord does this same thing with the New Israel, the Church. Each one of us is a member of the Church and, therefore, we have this kind of profound and intimate relationship with the Lord. When we look at what St. Paul teaches us about marriage in his Letter to the Ephesians, the Lord is working to present a Church without spot or wrinkle. This means that all of the spots and wrinkles have to be worked out of us.

In order to do this, He has given us the Holy Spirit Who works in each of our lives according to our own personality and call from God. He has given each of us a variety of gifts that we are able to use to serve God and to serve other people. St. Paul tells us in the second reading that these gifts are given for some benefit. The problem is that most of us have a lot of sins and imperfections that block the movement of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, God has to work to purify us so that we can cooperate with the Holy Spirit.

This actual cooperation can only be done with our willing it, but much of the purification is done without any realization on our part of why it is even happening. Because of our weakness and brokenness, we would probably reject the offer if God asked us to embrace the things that would be needed to prepare us for the work that is ours. Remember, the evil one knows what God wants each of to do and he has been working actively to make sure that we will not succeed in doing God’s will.

The Lord has allowed the enemy of our souls to do these things, but these exact things the devil has used to try to destroy us, if we cooperate with God, He will give us the grace to make these the means by which we defeat the devil. The damage was done without our consent because God did not cause it; the healing and the victory will not be accomplished without our cooperation. In this way the spots and wrinkles are removed by our choice to unite ourselves with God as the Bride of the Lamb.

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit