Reflection on This Week’s Readings


Epiphanies don’t just happen in church—a sudden insight can lead to a “Eureka!” in scientific experiments, an “Aha!” in a detective’s casework, a “Checkmate!” in a fierce chess game, and even a self-satisfied “Yes!” in Sudoku, crosswords, or finding a set of lost keys. So, too, epiphanies about the true nature of Christ come in a variety of words, actions, and places in our gospel readings during the Sundays after Epiphany.

First wise men from the east, then a dove from heaven and the voice of God, and now water into wine—all pointing to the glory and wonder of God-made-flesh. Just as we have been created and blessed with varieties of gifts, services, and activities, so too has God created and blessed us with varieties of epiphanies throughout human history. In our world that so often relies on an us-versus-them mentality, can we see the rich tapestry of differences as part of God’s glory? Will we be able to look past our traditions, our comfort zone, and our familiarities to see the glorious diversity of God’s revelation? Are we open to an epiphany in any form so that we can in fact “do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5)?


Week by week, the standard Sundays of the year present the meaning and presence of Christ and describe the Christian life. All three of the Second Sundays launch the year with John. On this Sunday is John’s symbolic story of Christ as the Creator of nature and of the new community that is joyous in God. 


Christ establishes a new world order, symbolized by the details of this story: his attendance at a wedding, his messianic distance from his natural mother, his providing what the couple needs, the astonishing abundance of Christ’s gifts, and the steward’s words about “the good wine.” Christ’s “hour” is coming on the cross. The story concludes with reference to the disciples’ belief in Christ. Later, in John 15, Christ himself is the vine.


This poem is set next to the Cana story because it describes the new world that God promises to establish and because it develops the marriage image that has been important for Christian interpretation of this gospel reading. Our baptism, at which we receive the “new name” of Christ, is like our marrying God, who is like our lover.


This Sunday begins a semicontinuous reading of 1 Corinthians. During the weeks after Epiphany, 1 Corinthians is read over the three years: chapters 1–4 in A, 6–9 in B, and 12–15 in C. In chapter 12 Paul presents the beginnings of Christian proclamation concerning the Holy Spirit, the divine spirit who now inhabits the body of Christ. At the beginning of a new calendar year, it is good to hear this list of the gifts that together build up the body of the church.


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