The Secret Growth of the Kingdom of God

Tom Bartolomeo
2nd Sunday Ordinary C 2013b
Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 95: 1-3, 7-8;

1 Corinthians 12: 4-11; John 2: 1-11
Reproduced with Permission

I don't want to disappoint, shock or scandalize you, but you should know that Jesus can do just so much in this world. The fullness of his power and grace and glory is in heaven, not here. That was always the case when he was born, lived and died here--clothed in the flesh and blood of fallen man. In strictly human terms Jesus Christ failed here. It was his resurrection from the dead that changed that, that will change our failures at death, too - if we choose to accept God' power and grace and glory now and hereafter.

It is the only way we can make sense of the three readings in today's mass, the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. First, consider Jesus' own testimony before his trial and crucifixion that his work, our salvation, would not be singly completed by himself, alone. "Keep my commandments", Jesus said

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. (John 14, 15-17).

In the first reading the prophet Isaiah described heaven as 'My Delight' and your land 'The Wedded'; for the Lord takes delight in you and your land will have its wedding . . . [and] he [God] "will not grow weary, until her [heaven's] integrity shines out like the dawn and her salvation flames like a torch." That is time future, not time present. In "Psalm 95", read before the second reading we also heard, "O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! . . . On that today you would listen to his voice!"

"On that day" time future. Then In the second reading from the Apostle, Paul encouraged his congregation to employ the gifts they have received "to each person . . . for a good purpose": "preaching" spreading the "faith", "healing" and the other gifts of the Spirit they had already received from the Advocate, the Holy Spirit of God, who came into the world after Jesus's Ascension. Jesus personally had these powers, fully, these powers as God and man but a man handicapped by our lack of faith, hope and charity which he came to restore.

Finally, in today's gospel Christ demonstrated his divine power changing water into wine, although anonymously, because he said, "My hour has not yet come." Why the delay? Why, too, before "the wedding in Cana" was Jesus baptized unnecessarily by John the Baptist, and why was John the only one to recognize the Savior of the world sent by God? From Cana, we were told, "Jesus filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee"and "a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. [But] when he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.'

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him [we read]. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

When Jesus berated them for their lack of faith we read, that they got up and drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way (Luke 4, 16-30).

To make any sense of this we need to understand the human condition the Son of God assumed in becoming man. Paul explained in his letter to his congregation in Philippi:

Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. He was known to be of human estate, and it was thus that he humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross (Philippians 2: 6-8).

"Emptied himself and took the form of a slave", ordinarily indistinguishable in his appearance. We probably wouldn't have recognized him where we there. Only his actions would reveal his person as God, the Son of God he would tell us.

We have the same gifts of the Spirit as Jesus had in his human form and we should not be discouraged by our 'apparent' failures in 'teaching' the faith to others, in 'healing' and counseling others, always, of course, in the manner of Christ, frankly and charitably. The power and grace of God in us doesn't always produce immediate results, often bears fruit much later like the seed sown on fertile ground in the parable which needed to grow before it was harvested. Even the smallest of seeds, the mustard seed, Jesus told us, would take time to grow large enough to the benefit of many, another of Jesus's parables. Fermenting the kingdom of God is usually a laborious task like kneading yeast by hand in a "hundred weight of flour" before the rising and the baking of the bread. Don't expect a loaf a bread until it is proofed, baked and removed from the oven, again, another of Christ's parables.

As Christians and Catholics we must make disciples of everyone especially those in our families and acquaintances. Christ, moments before his Ascension, did not say, "Go, you may make disciples of all nations" but commanded, "Go, make disciples of all nations and all people." You don't think I'm capable of that alone do you? Your sense of unpreparedness is no excuse. Heed Jesus' advice, "do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit (Mark 13, 11). And then the caution, "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded" (Luke 12, 48). It's in the doing not the achieving which matters which we may never be aware of. It is all caught up in the body of Christ of whom we are his members.