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By Frank Lesko, Coordinator of Justice and Peace

Christmas trees have been taken down.  Stressful holiday travel has come to an end.  The hope of Advent has flowered in the birth of our Savior.  We remember the bold adventures of the Magi and the flight to Egypt of the Holy family.

After the culmination of an exciting Christmas season, it is easy to think it is time to settle into a lull as Ordinary time begins.  However, there is nothing “ordinary” about Ordinary time, as this week’s readings show!  The pace and excitement of our readings do not slow down at all.  We start to get more insight as to what this hope in Christ will look like.

The readings call our attention to new life in the Lord.  It is a time for renewal.  It is a time for second chances and fresh beginnings.

For captive Israel, the first reading tells us that new life comes in the form of release from exile in Babylon.  The newly freed Israelites have a chance to cultivate their ancestral lands once again.  Isaiah describes this relationship as a marriage, with all the bounty and promise that comes from it.

In the Gospel, new life comes in the form of a wedding.  This marriage carries with it the promises of the start of a family and a renewed relationship of individuals who are now spouses to one another.  It is a time of new beginnings, and Christ is there to bless and transform it.

Paul’s voice from Corinthians offers us a lens for how we may experience this new life:  it may be different for everyone.  The Spirit gives each of us different gifts.  Through those different gifts, we bring this same one Spirit into the world and the promise of new life in the Spirit.

It is God who brings this life to us.  Just like in the Gospel, we bring jars filled with water.  It is Christ who transforms that water into the finest wine.  His wine does not run out as he saves the best for last.  It is only through Christ that this new life comes into the world.  We will “sing to the Lord a new song,” and as the Psalm signs out, and this new song will be sung in Christ.