One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

January 17, 2010

For the Second Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Isaiah 62:1-5
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
John 2:1-11

In less than one hundred eighty years after the resurrection of Christ, there was already a yearly festival on January 6 to commemorate his Baptism at the Jordan River.
Within her first five hundred years, the Church had developed the chain of celebrations of the birth of Christ, the visit of the magi to the newborn in Bethlehem, his Baptism in the Jordan River, and his first miracle at the Cana wedding.
All of those festivals, at one time or another were called Epiphany.
On Christmas Day, we celebrated his epiphany in the manger to the shepherds.
Sunday before last, we celebrated his epiphany to the Eastern magi, who were the first pagans to pay him homage.
Last Sunday, we celebrated his Baptism, which was the first epiphany of the Trinity in history: heaven opening over the Son of God on earth, the Father’s voice acclaiming the Son, and the testimony of the Spirit overshadowing him with the sign of a dove.
Today, the Gospel celebrates an epiphany to the disciples of Christ, an epiphany of his glory through the first of his miraculous signs, the changing of water into superabundant, superior wine.
The Gospel says, “Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee, and so REVEALED”— literally EPIPHANIED— “his glory, and his disciples BEGAN to believe in him.”
Throughout the rest of the Church year, we follow:
+ the epiphany of his preaching the Kingdom and calling men to repentance,
+ the epiphany of his forgiving sinners,
+ the epiphany of his Body and Blood as food and drink,
+ the epiphany of his suffering and death,
+ the epiphany of his rising from the dead and ascending into heaven,
+ and the Pentecost epiphany of the Spirit in the Church.
Finally, late in the year, the Church even celebrates the epiphany of the Second Coming (or Advent) of Christ the King.
We are at the beginning of a new year of epiphanies of Christ.
Today’s Gospel miracle takes us to the beginning of faith among his disciples.
“Jesus did this as the BEGINNING of his signs at Cana in Galilee, and so revealed his glory, and his disciples BEGAN to believe in him.”
It is a BEGINNING in so many ways.
First, this reading is from John’s Gospel that starts with the same words as the book of Genesis, “In the beginning.”
The Gospel is a new Genesis.
In the old book of Genesis, at the first known meal in history, the first groom and bride impoverished and saddened themselves by disobeying God to eat what he had forbidden.
Today in the Gospel, a new husband and wife are at their first married meal but fall into unexpected poverty: “the wine ran short.”
At that point the mother of the Lord steps forward.
She appears in this Gospel only twice: here at Cana and again at Calvary.
In both places, the Lord calls her, “Woman.”
Here at Cana, she is already the first believing disciple of Christ— before the faith of other disciples has even begun.
She does three things for the newly impoverished newlyweds.
First: she notices they are in need.
Second: she prays to her Son, telling him the plight of the poor.
Third: with faith, knowledge, and obedience, she tells those serving her Son to “Do whatever he tells you.”
In the Garden of Eden, the first woman gave the first man what God had forbidden, thereby telling the man not to serve God, but to “Do what ever the snake tells you.”
In the Gospel today, the mother of the Lord overturns the words of the first woman by telling those serving her Son to do whatever her Son says.
In Eden a banquet of sin; in Cana a banquet of obedience!
Following his mother’s concern, the Lord tells the servants what to do.
However, before his mother spoke to the servants, he said to her: “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”
Later in this Gospel, when his “hour” came at Calvary, he called his mother “Woman” for the second time, and he united her concern with his own.
In the hour of his cross, looking upon his mother and his disciple, he said, “Woman, there is your son.”
To his disciple, “There is your mother.”
From his cross, he renewed his poor mother as a mother by giving her a new son; and he renewed his poor disciple as a son by giving him a new mother.
More beginnings, more epiphanies!
At the cross, they had no wine, just like at Cana.
Rather, at the cross they had vinegar, which is wine gone bad.
At Calvary, the Lord’s mother could have said what she said at Cana: “They have no wine.”
However, she is silent.
Her Son’s concern is to drink all the ruined wine of humanity.
With an immeasurable thirst and poverty that swallowed all human poverty, the Lord Jesus drank the vinegar of Calvary.
With that, he summed everything up, saying, “It is finished.”
Calvary and Cana echo each other.
The beginnings that are in today’s Gospel of Cana tell us something about what the Lord fulfilled at Calvary.
At Cana, the stone jars altogether held roughly one hundred twenty and one hundred eighty gallons of water for religious purification rites.
The Lord turned all of it into superior wine.
Poverty into overflowing abundance!
Marital sorrow into a honeymoon with one hundred fifty gallons of excellence and joy!
And from Calvary: the bereavement of a mother and a disciple turned into their new life as mother and son; death turned into resurrection; suffering into glory.
Like his mother and the servants at Cana, we all have roles to play in the epiphanies of the Lord.
If we take notice of need as his mother did, if we intercede as his mother did, if we exhort to service as his mother did, if we do whatever he tells us as they did at Cana, and if we go to the Calvary as did his mother and one disciple, then the Lord will work joyful signs and abundant superior beginnings.
“Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee, and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.”
Everyday let us choose to begin to believe and serve.

That God Be Glorified in All


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