GOSPEL, FIRST READING & PSALM TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
Now Jesus responds to her by saying, "Woman, what's that to you and to me?" (literally, in the Greek)
The RSV is a little strong here with this, "What do you have to do with me?” It makes it sound like the opposition is between Mary and Jesus, but actually, the Greek is a little different. "What to you and to me?" In other words, "how does this situation concern us?" Which is a good question to ask, even on a human level, because Jesus and Mary are both guests at the wedding, right? I mean, if you go to a wedding and they run out of wine and you're a guest, it's your problem in the sense that you don't have any wine to drink, but it's not your problem in the sense that you have a responsibility to fix it. You're a guest, you're not the host. That's the responsibility of the host. But Jesus says something else, he says, "My hour has not yet come." So, in John's gospel, that points forward to his passion and death, the hour of the cross, the hour of his passion. And so, mysteriously, somehow Mary's words, “they have no wine,” Jesus has taken them not just to refer to the problem of the practical loss of wine, but somehow to refer to the hour of his passion and his death. Why does he go there? How does he get from "A" to "Z"? How does he get from "running out of wine" to "the hour of the cross"? I think the answer lies in the messianic banquet tradition of ancient Judaism.
If you go back to the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah, for example, chapter 25, Isaiah says that when the age of salvation comes, there will be a feast of fine wine, of wine on the lees well-refined, and that all the nations will come to this feast, and that when they drink of this wine and eat of this sacrificial banquet, they will swallow up death forever and their sins will be forgiven. In Jewish tradition it came to become called the "messianic banquet", the banquet of the messiah, which would be particularly characterized by super abundant wine. So when Mary says "they have no wine" and invites Jesus, as a guest, to solve the problem, in a first century Jewish context, and in the context of Mary's knowledge of who Jesus is, right, Jesus also perceives there an implicit request to reveal his identity as the Messiah, and to, in a sense, inaugurate the messianic banquet. And what Jesus says to Mary, effectively, is "it's not time for that banquet just yet. My hour has not yet come." But, as a good Jew, who is obedient to his mother, he solves the problem at the wedding at Cana, and in doing so, performs a sign that points forward to what he will accomplish when his hour finally does come. So he calls the servants, they pour the water out, he changes water to wine, and not just a little, it's about 180 gallons of wine. So it's 6 jars, 30 gallons each. That’s a lot of wine. I always like to say this to my students, "that's proof that Jesus was Catholic, right?" Because there are some Christians who are teetotalers, who reject all drinking of wine. Jesus here doesn't just make some wine, he makes 180 gallons of it. He makes super abundant wine. So what happens is once the wine's brought to the steward of the feast and he tastes it, he immediately goes to the bridegroom, who is unnamed, but whose Greek word, nymphios, is a reference to the groom, the man who is being married that day. The irony here is that the steward thanks the bridegroom for providing the wine, but you as the reader know that the bridegroom of that festival had nothing to do with it. Who provided the wine? Well, it was Jesus. So what happens is, through Mary's invitation, Jesus takes the role of the bridegroom and miraculously changes water into wine at this wedding feast.
Now why does that matter? Well, for one thing, it reveals to us that Jesus isn't just the King of Israel, he isn't just the Messiah, or the Savior, or the Son of God, or the Great Exorcist, or the Great Teacher, or the Great Prophet. He's all those things, but at the very onset of his ministry, at his heart, at the heart of his ministry, he is revealing that he is also (or should I say, he is first and foremost), the Bridegroom. Because, as we're going to see in a moment, in the Old Testament, the bridegroom, who provides the miraculous feast, who brings in the age of salvation is God himself. The prophets describe God himself as the Divine Bridegroom.
So the wedding at Cana becomes a revelation both of Jesus' messianic identity, but also of his divine identity, his divinity. He is the Divine Bridegroom who has come in person to inaugurate the great wedding supper of the lamb, the feast of salvation, the banquet of the kingdom of God.
SECOND READING TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
And the next two gifts actually are related to one another. Here Paul talks about the gift of various kinds of tongues and then a related gift, which is the gift of the interpretation of tongues. So what is Paul referring to here? Well, in this case we get into a little bit of a debate about exactly what Paul means here.
There are two different ways to interpret the gift of tongues that Paul is referring to here. One of them is what is called xenologia…xenologia.
This comes from the Greek word meaning “foreign speech”. So according to this view, Paul is talking about the gift of the Holy Spirit being given to people to be able to speak in foreign languages — like Greek or Latin or Hebrew or Aramaic or Syriac or Coptic or whatever it might be. That’s called xenologia.
Like xenophobia is the fear of strangers or the fear or foreigners, xenologia
is the ability to speak in a foreign language.
The other interpretation that will often be argued is that Paul is referring to glossolalia
. A glossary is a book that basically teaches you how to say something or what something means in a particular language. Glosso
means tongue in Greek. So glossolalia
means speaking in tongues. And it tends to be used to refer to an ecstatic form of speech that is supernatural and that does not correspond to any known human language.
Now these two interpretations actually both come from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians — not the passage we’re reading in today but a passage a little bit later in the book which is 1 Corinthians 14. And I just want to show you the passage real quickly so you can get an idea of what these two gifts of the Spirit might mean. So for example, in some passages in Paul, he appears to be talking about a foreign language when he talks about speaking in tongues. Listen to an example for 1 Corinthians 14:10-11. Paul says:
There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning; but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. So with yourselves; since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. (1 Corinthians 14:10-12)
So here, Paul seems to be referring to the spiritual gift of being able to understand foreign languages, so that we can speak to one another and transcend the boundaries of language that are part of the human condition. So here Paul seems to be speaking in “different languages”. But then just a couple verses later in 1 Corinthians 14:14, he seems to be describing a kind of ecstatic speech that no one can understand when he says this. I’ll back up to verse 13:
Therefore, he who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. (1 Corinthians 14:13-14)
Okay, so here in that verse and in some other verses later on in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul seems to be describing some kind of supernatural language that is super rational. In other words, he says “My spirit is praying; I’m speaking in tongues. But my mind is at rest” or:
…my mind is unfruitful.
So these two different emphases that we’ll see in Paul have led to two different strains of interpretation in the early Church, whether speaking in tongues is referring to the supernatural gift of foreign languages or to the supernatural gift of some kind of super rational speech — like in 1 Corinthians 13, for example, when Paul will say:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels… (1 Corinthians 13:1a)
Some people will say, well, angels don’t have bodies; they don’t have tongues. They don’t have ordinary languages like we do, so he must be referring to some supernatural form of communication that the angels themselves use. Okay, anyway… we don’t have time to settle that debate; that’s not the point. But for our purposes here, I would just turn to the living tradition of the Church and the teaching of the Catechism
just to give a few final pieces of insight.
So if we look at two major figures — St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine (we should have put St. Augustine first because he’s earlier)— these two great doctors of the Church, both of them when they came to the passage of our reading for today, the charismatic gifts, both of them argued that in this context, Paul is referring to the supernatural gift of the ability to speak in other languages, or what we might call xenologia
. So for example, listen to St. Augustine. This is what he says in his Homilies on 1 John
In the first days the Holy Spirit fell upon the believers, and they spoke in tongues that they hadn’t learned
, as the Spirit gave them to speak. These signs were appropriate for the time. For it was necessary that the Holy Spirit be signified thus in all tongues
…meaning all languages…
…because the gospel of God was going to traverse all tongues throughout the earth
. That was the sign that was given, and it passed.
So notice, Augustine interprets 1 Corinthians 12 in light of Acts 2. He sees Paul’s reference to the gift — the charismatic gift — of various kinds of tongues (suggest a multitude, a variety) as a reference to…as an allusion to Pentecost, when the apostles were able to speak to people from all these different countries throughout the world who gathered for Pentecost. And each of those groups heard them in their own tongue, or in their own language. So that’s Augustine’s interpretation.
And Augustine goes a little bit further, because he suggests that that gift (that spiritual gift) of speaking in other languages was something that was confined to the initial stage of evangelization in the Church, when She was going out to all the nations. Augustine says that “it passed”, so he thinks of that as a gift that was given for a time, but that it continued no longer.
Now there’s a debate about that in the Church too, and I don’t want to get into it into too much detail here, but just want to familiarize you with what Augustine is saying. There will be another stream of tradition that argues that wherever the Gospel is being preached for the same time, the gift of tongues (in the sense of the ability to speak in different languages) will be given to missionaries — anyone who is going out and bringing the Gospel to new lands.
Okay, later on in the Middle Ages, St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Commentary on 1 Corinthians
, says this:
[W]hen the Apostle mentions here [in 1 Cor 14] about speaking in a tongue, he means an unknown language not interpreted
(Latin lingua ignota, et non explanata); as when one might speak German to a Frenchman without an interpreter
, he is speaking in a tongue. Hence, all speech not understood not explained, no matter what it is, is properly called speaking in a tongue.
So here, Thomas thinks the primary meaning of Paul’s reference to speaking in a variety of tongues is the ability to speak in other languages, other human languages — he uses German and French as an example. However, it is interesting that he broadens it out a little bit and says any speech that’s either not understood or not explained is called speaking in a tongue. So because he’s writing this commentary on 1 Corinthians, Thomas recognizes that there are these other passages in 1 Corinthians 14 that seem to suggest that Paul is talking about some kind of super rational, ecstatic speech that can’t be understood like ordinary human languages…and so he leaves a little room for that.
In any case, you might think, well, what are we to make of all this? Well, this is one of those situations where the Church has given…has not given us any definitive interpretation to exactly what Paul means by speaking in tongues. However, it is worth noting (by way of conclusion) that the official Catechism of the Catholic Church
actually does refer to this passage in 1 Corinthians 14, in paragraph 2003. And what it highlights is that whatever these charisms are precisely, they are given in particular for building up the Body of Christ, for the service of the common good of the Church. Listen to these words, this is the Church’s teaching:
There are furthermore special graces
, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning “favor,” “gratuitous gift,” “benefit.”
Pause there. So these are like extra gifts of the Holy Spirit — extra favors. They’re gratuitous. It’s not something we earn. They are a gratuitous gift of the Spirit. The Catechism
Whatever their character—sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues
—charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church (CCC 2003)
So two points from that flow that are worth making. First, the Catechism
officially recognizes the miraculous nature of speaking in tongues. It’s some kind of extraordinary gift, one way or the other, however you interpret it. It’s like miracles; it’s a miraculous gift. Not all the charisms are miraculous and as extraordinary and visible in that sense as tongues or miracles, but all of them — whether it’s faith or wisdom, prophecy or knowledge — all of them are ultimately ordered toward both sanctifying grace and the building up of the Body of Christ.
So they’re not for show; they’re not for display. They’re not for people to kind of demonstrate their own personal holiness. They are given by the Holy Spirit to the Church in order to build up the Body of Christ, to engage in evangelization, to preach the Gospel and to be witnesses to the one Body of Christ that’s animated by the one Spirit who gives a variety of gifts but all of which flow from the same Spirit.
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