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January 16, 1998     The Message
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January 16, 1998

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Replacement theology: The wedding at By FATHER DONALD DILGER Columnist Gospel Cmnmentary for Januamj 8, 1998: Second Sunday: Ordinamj Time: Cycle C: John 2:1-11 Although most of the readings for the present Year of Grace, Cycle C, are taken from the Gospel of Luke, the schedule of readings occasionally turns from Luke to the Gospel of John. Today is one of those occasions. The story chosen for this Second Sunday in Ordinary Time is Jesus' first great sign or miracle in the Gospel of John. There are seven of these "signs," a name John himself gives them because they are used to signify to readers and believers who Jesus is and/or what he does. A major theme of the Gospel of John is to demonstrate that Jesus is the fulfillment, perfection, or even the replacement of the great institutions of Judaism thus the name, "replacement theology. ,' John writes his gospel in the mid nineties of the first Christian century. This was a time when the various branches of Judaism, including Christianity, were engaged in a struggle or debate over the future ' road this ancient religion was to travel, or even how : it was to survive. They were in crisis. This crisis was brought on by the destruction of the great temple of : Yahweh by the Roman army in 70 AD. Questions they must have debated would have included the rebuilding of the temple, although this would hard- ly have been possible either financially or politically. The Romans were in complete control of Palestine. Another question would have been the role of Torah, i.e. the scriptures we call "the Old Testa- ment." Could Judaism live by Torah alone? If so, whose interpretation? That of the great Pharisee scholars? Of the Sadducees? Of the Essenes? Of the followers of Jesus by now called "Christians"? John sets out to demonstrate that the Christians have the answer He presents Jesus as the ultimate interpreter of the Torah, for example, 1:17, "The Torah was given through Moses: grace and truth came through Jesus Messiah!" John also goes far beyond this statement. He begins his gospel with the very words with which the ancient and sacred Torah begins, the first words of Genesis, "In the beginning. .." According to the great Jewish scholars of the time the words of the Torah were eternal. Joh n attrib- utes the same to the person of Jesus, "In the begin- ning was the WORD .... "The climactic statement comes in the middle of John's introduction to his gospel, "And the WORD was made flesh and pitched his tent among us." Thus he affirms that Jesus is not only the final interpreter of the Torah, but is himself the Torah or teaching of God encased in humanity The Torah has been perfected or perhaps e,en replaced by Jesus, according to John. Along with the Torah there grew up a great body of teachings that were used "to put a fence around the Torah," that is, to protect, interpret, and adapt Torah-teaching to changing circumstances through the ages. Some regarded these teachings as sacred as those of the Torah itself They were the "unwritten Torah" In the Gospel of John an important teaching about Jesus is preceded or followed by one of seven great signs (miracles) The first of these is the chang- ing of water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana. There are interesting details in the story. For example, that jesus' mother was there, that he and his disciples were also invited. There has been some discussion of why they ran out of wine, that Jesus and his disciples drank a little too joyfully. We need to recall that Jesus himself is quoted as saying that some people refer to him as a glutton and a drunk, Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34. Obviously he enjoyed a party and was not averse to a libation when occasion called for it. One approach to discussion of this miracle could be the role of Mary. John never He always calls her "the mother of story it is the intercession of Mary that Jesus' first great sign. Much has been and rightly so. One could discuss Jesus to Mary's implicit request; "They wine." Jesus replied, "Woman, what ist and to me? My hour hasnot yc seems strangely inappropriate, to his mother We need ing theology, not history. In the title the reference to Jesus' hour, i "hour," the beginning of Jesus' is "enthroned" on the cross address Mary as "Woman," in his ment, "Woman, behold your son," in "beloved disciple" at the foot of the John's theology, in words attributed proclaims Mary as the mother e whose intercession with her Son, granting her request to alleviate the embarrassed bridal couple, is always sisters and brothers, we sons and All of this misses the main point of The key to this sign is found in water jars standing by "for the Jewish I cation." Those rites were based on the unwritten Torah. THE best wine thus demonstrates that Jesus new teaching. The JARS WERE the servants to fill the jars with immediately changes into new Torah. answer to all Jews of his time and all to our New Testament that inclu John will phrase this teaching differentlyl Jesus' words, "I am the way, and life[" ': Readings: Isaiah 62:1-5; I C( John 2:1-11. We've 0 II Thanks to all out" clients for their confidence in Fleck Insurance Agency, Inc. Jasper, Indiana JASPER LUMBER CO. COMPLETE BUILDING SERVICE Ph: 482-1125 RT. 4, JASPER i Christian Books & Gifts Bey & Charlie Mendel, owners (IH2)4-77f 416JaSt. JasoerlN47548 i Knights of Columbus Council630 DiN,:0000OPE. Fri, &;=: Eings ii OPEN PUBL!O SERVING COMPLETE MENU Steak. Sea Food. Chicken i , ImB ii i JONES BODY SHOP Front end alignment Complete body rebuilding Radiator Service Estimates Given Call 254-5358 207 E. South -- Washington, IN Main 217 E. Main SL* Pt DRE Needed for 368 family parish. 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