Monday, January 28, 2019

Homily - The Wedding Feast at Cana

This Gospel story today is so good. One of the great gifts John gives us in this Gospel story is to take Jesus out of the clouds and bring him down to earth.  Here he is with his mom and friends at a wedding. How normal is that? Imagine that day Jesus dancing and laughing and enjoying himself as we all do at weddings.  And just in case you don’t think he was enjoying himself that day do the math on the amount of wine he made. Six stone water jars each holding thirty gallons filled to the brim that’s 180 gallons of wine; or about 800 bottles of wine.   For a party that had been so good, they ran out of wine!  Jesus is my kind of party guest!

A few years ago, when Johnny Carson hosted the Tonight Show, he was interviewing an eight-year-old boy one night. The young man was asked to appear on the Tonight Show because he had rescued two friends from a coal mine. As Johnny questioned him, it became apparent that the boy was a Christian.  Johnny asked him if he attended Sunday school.  When the boy said he did, Johnny inquired, "What are you learning in Sunday school?" "Last week.” The boy replied, “our lesson was about how Jesus went to a wedding and turned water into wine." The audience started laughing and applauding.  Keeping a straight face, Johnny asked, "And what did you learn from that story?" The boy squirmed in his chair.  It was clear he hadn't thought about this. But then he lifted up his face and said, "If you're going to have a wedding make sure you invite Jesus and Mary!"

And that is precisely the message of today’s gospel. It’s not complicated it’s simple. Make sure you invite Jesus wherever you live and wherever you go – he is a great friend to have around.   

There are two take away messages from this Gospel story. The first is if we know Jesus and turn to him in our needs, he will abundantly pour out his love into our lives. And the second message is a bit more subtle. It’s about the power of His mother’s intercession.

Let’s talk about the first point. In every life, there are times when the wine runs out.  It happens to us all. Maybe it’s a health issue, or money troubles, a marriage running on empty, the loss of someone we love.  None of us is immune. And the message of this story is that in those moments Jesus stands ready to help.  Everyone has times when the wine in our life runs low the moral of this story is that in those moments if we turn to Jesus, he can bring life and joy to us, and bring it in abundance. It’s ours for the asking!

Do you have that kind of relationship with Jesus?                                                           
Can you turn to him when you need some help?

The second point of the story is about Jesus’ relationship with his mother. People are often curious about our Catholic devotion to Mary Jesus’ mother. We seek out Mary’s help because it is clear to us how close she is to her son.  In this reading, there is a delightful, and actually quite funny, interaction between Jesus and his mother.  As women so often are Mary is aware and sensitive to the difficulty the host is facing; and with great empathy, she simply turns to Jesus and says – “They have no wine.”  That’s it, no big explanation, no pleading just 4 simple words – “They have no wine.” And he knows exactly what she means and what she expects.  That level of non-verbal communication tells us volumes about their relationship. Jesus then does what many of us do to our Moms, he kind of dismisses her request and says – Mom, how does your concern affect me? Now notice what his mother does when he says this. She totally ignores him! She simply turns to the servers and says “Do whatever he tells you.” What a rich scene …!  She knew what he could do, and she knew he would do it because she asked him. Now doesn’t that make you want to ask her for help when you need something!  We pray to Mary because we know her requests of Jesus are irresistible.

She said to the waiters that day, and she says to us today, "Do whatever He tells you." This is the only command given by Mary recorded in the New Testament. So if you are looking for miracles in your life, if you need a refill of joy and meaning, take Mary’s advice and – “Do whatever He tells you.”
And where do we hear his instructions?  The Bible tells us how to do the will of God and bring abundance and joy into our daily lives. Do you read the bible at home? Our good priests here at St. Brigid when they offer Mass and share a homily help us to hear Jesus.  Are you coming to Mass regularly? Quite prayer time is an excellent time to listen. Are you taking time for quiet prayer each day and listening?

The lack of wine in this story is a symbol for the emptiness of our life without Christ.  This sign – this miracle – teaches us that when the wine runs out just as he transformed that water, he can transform our lives. The point is that with Jesus the impossible becomes possible that’s the miracle.                                                                                                                   
Yes, that day he turned water into wine, and today he can turn frowns into smiles, whimpers of fear into songs of hope, sorrow into joy. He can restore the joy to a marriage and meaning to our lives.  Jesus is all about transforming people’s lives for the better.

And the Church tells us we are the body of Christ. He works through us now. In the 2nd reading St. Paul said we all have a gift to give. Can you recall a time when your life transformed someone else's?

When is the last time YOU turned water into wine?