For Zion's sake I will not be silent,
for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet,
until her vindication shines forth like the dawn
and her victory like a burning torch.
Nations shall behold your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
you shall be called by a new name
pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,
a royal diadem held by your God.
No more shall people call you "Forsaken, "
or your land "Desolate, "
but you shall be called "My Delight, "
and your land "Espoused."
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.
Brothers and sisters:
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.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom;
to another, the expression of knowledge according to the
to another, faith by the same Spirit;
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another, mighty deeds;
to another, prophecy;
to another, discernment of spirits;
to another, varieties of tongues;
to another, interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these,
distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.
There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
"They have no wine."
And Jesus said to her,
"Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come."
His mother said to the servers,
"Do whatever he tells you."
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told the them,
"Fill the jars with water."
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
"Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter."
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
— although the servers who had drawn the water knew —,
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
"Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now."
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.
A frequent Bible Trivia question is, “What was Jesus’ first miracle?” If the accepted answer is, “Changing water into wine at Cana in Galilee,” the game’s creator doesn’t know Scripture. That’s Jesus’ first miracle in John, not in the other three gospels. Each evangelist’s initial miracle sets the theme for the rest of his gospel. Mark, for instance, has Jesus first exorcise a demon in the Capernaum synagogue because Mark’s Jesus believes his followers’ ministry should revolve around eradicating the evil which demons symbolize.
On the other hand, a major theme in John’s gospel revolves around his belief that Christianity replaces Judaism. What better way to show this than, as C. H. Dodd classically observed, have the wine of Christianity replace the water of Judaism. The key to appreciating this scholarly interpretation is to note the jars in which the transformation takes place aren’t empty wine jars; they’re the water jars Jews employ for their ritual purifications. According to Jewish law, once wine has been poured into them, they no longer can be used for purification.
Had the author of John’s gospel engaged in theme music, high on his list would have been the well-known song from Annie Get Your Gun: Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better. His Jesus can always be counted on to trump the Judaism of his day and age. According to his theology, the reform of Judaism which this Galilean carpenter introduced actually replaced the traditional Judaism he encountered.
In that sense, Jesus of Nazareth is living up to the concept of the “new name” which Third-Isaiah envisions. Recently freed from the Babylonian Exile, the prophet is plugging into the insight of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah’s theology, the Judaism to be practiced when the Chosen People return to Jerusalem won’t be the Judaism the Babylonians destroyed fifty years before. It’ll be a brand new faith, the one Yahweh originally wanted them to practice.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons we should zero in on today’s I Corinthians pericope. Paul brings up something Jewish Christians deeply appreciated: the gifts which the Spirit showers on everyone in the Christian community.
Years ago, when I helped screen candidates for the Permanent Diaconate, one of my tasks was to surface some of the gifts they’d bring to the ministry. I quickly discovered that almost never had anyone before inquired about their “spiritual gifts.” Most didn’t even realize the spirit had given them any. Raised Catholic, they bought into the unscriptural division of clergy and laity. Being a priest implied you were somehow gifted by God. Everyone else had to be content with “leftovers.” Marriage, for instance, was never regarded as a spiritual gift, it was just something everyone who wasn’t “called” to be a priest or nun was expected to do.
Paul of Tarsus would never have tolerated our clergy/laity division. As we hear in our I Corinthians passage, he presumes our imitation of the risen Jesus is much more complicated. If each of us is to be another Christ, we’re to represent Christ in a unique way. That insight was one of the ways Jesus’ reformed Judaism differed from traditional Judaism.
The Apostle clicks off just a few of those gifts for his Corinthian community, mention such things as wisdom, prophecy, tongues.
Our deacon candidates eventually discovered their gifts almost always were things they’d been good at doing their whole life; things they rarely reflected on, gifts they presumed everyone had, yet they’re unique. They simply had to ask their significant others. They told them.
Perhaps it would be helpful this weekend to participate in our parish Eucharist with a sign around our necks with our gift(s) boldly written on it. What would ours say?