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Spirituality of the Readings
2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Year C
January 16, 2022
John Foley, SJ

His Delight

­As we said last week, “Ordinary Time” has now replaced the “Christmas season.” Our previous Sunday climaxed Jesus’ birth, early life, and of course, his baptism.

Now it is time to begin hearing about his active and public life as God’s Word. That work is the content of “Ordinary Time,” in spite of the season’s mundane name.*

Only God in Jesus can supply the refreshment.

How long will this Ordinary Time continue? Every Sunday from now on, except for interventions by the Lent/Easter season, or any other special celebration of the Lord.

There are three different years of Ordinary Time readings, one for each year in the three year cycle, each having a clever name such as A, B, or C. In every one of these years one particular “synoptic” Gospel writer is featured, Mark, Matthew or Luke.

We are now in year C, which we began in Advent. Ordinary Time for this year will feature the Gospel according to Luke. The following words will be proclaimed before the Gospel reading each Sunday: “A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke.”**

To make things more complicated, however, this year’s Second Sunday of Ordinary Time after all does not have a reading from Luke’s Gospel. The Church has used instead a reading from the Gospel of John, one about an event which actually took place before Jesus’ public life, as Jesus says explicitly (“My hour has not yet come”).

One way to look at this anomaly is to say that the present Sunday is a brief transition, meant to console us and raise our expectations concerning the Messiah and the Good News.***

Isaiah in the First Reading says that God is going to give his people a new name. They will be called “My delight.” Their land will be known by the name, “Espoused.” The Lord will marry them and bring forth abundance from their lands.

It is a familiar Gospel. We are at a wedding feast in Cana, Galilee. The wine has run out. We witness that Jesus is able to transform water into the very best wine, just as the Father can change a forsaken people into ones that are his delight.

It is an image for a people who are fresh out of hope, but who can delight in the promise. Only God in Jesus can supply the refreshment. The Gospel story has more symbolic depth than just a simple story of an amazing miracle would.

Mary says modestly to Jesus, “They have no wine” [symbolically, the human race has no real life left in it]. Jesus replies, strangely, “woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” Explicitly, his public life has not yet come. In that life he will preach, heal, suffer, die and rise again, as we will see in the coming weeks.

But Mary knew him too well. She did not take seriously all the reasons God’s promise could not be fulfilled. She knew that the people needed the full, rich wine of life, which is love. She trusted her son.

She says to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

And, of course, water becomes wine.

On this Sunday we begin to watch Jesus make us into “his delight.”

John Foley, SJ
 * Here one must distinguish between the Sunday and weekday readings. The actual First Sunday in Ordinary Time is never celebrated in any year! Yet still, the First Weekdays in Ordinary Time begin right after the Baptism of the Lord, just as if that feast were in fact the First Sunday. We might reasonably call the Baptism of the Lord the beginning of Ordinary Time, couldn’t we? But the Church counts his Baptism as important enough in its own right, and therefore has it replace (not impersonate) the First Sunday in Ordinary Time.

So, the simplest outline is:
  • The Solemnity of the Epiphany (always on a Sunday in the United States).
  • Followed on the next Sunday by the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord [followed by the weekdays of the first week of Ordinary Time begin the next day].
  • After them, our Second Sunday of Ordinary Time [and its second week weekdays].

 ** Some scholars have thought that the account of the Canaan wedding feast had “drifted over” to John’s Gospel but was originally part of Luke. Could this theory have been a reason for it’s being included here, in what should have been Luke’s year C, maybe to help Christmas season transfer over to Ordinary Time? The answer is, we do not know.

*** This makes sense narratively since the Baptism of Jesus, as above, might be considered a type of beginning of his public life. But not so. Neither the Baptism nor the time in the desert do qualify as public time. They are preparation for his publically going back to Nazareth in the “power of the Holy Spirit,” and only then beginning to actively and publicly preach the Kingdom of God..

Father Foley can be reached at:
Fr. John Foley, SJ

Fr. John Foley, SJ, is a composer and scholar at Saint Louis University.

Art by Martin Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C). This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go