“Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in
And so friends, as we begin this season of winter Ordinary Time, we hear John the Evangelist’s version of the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Without anyone seeing how it happened, water blushes into wine in the presence of the Word through which it was created, and the wedding celebration is saved from certain disaster and embarrassment.
John tells us that the sign Jesus does at
Seeing the glory of God revealed through the sign at
But exactly what is it that we are called to believe in? Perhaps, I suggest to you, today’s Gospel calls us to believe in the possibility of transformation, to believe that God can bring the richness and cheerfulness of wine out of the humble plainness of water.
We are called to have faith in the possibility of transformation in Christ—that our lives and our relationships, even the whole world, can be transformed by grace. As Paul instructs the Roman Christians: “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your minds, so that you may know what is the will of God; what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Our own patron
And we are all too aware this time of year of the transformation of the seasons as we look forward to the day when winter will turn into the new hope and life of spring.
Now it’s an honored and durable catholic principle to say that “grace builds on nature.” So just as the sign at Cana led the disciples to begin to believe in Jesus, so the transformations of nature all around us ought to lead us to believe in the possibility of transformation in Christ for ourselves. To believe that God will take up our little lives and meager efforts and transform them into the great river of grace that flows out of the heavenly Temple and gives life to the whole world in Christ.
The prophet Isaiah gives us a sense of this transformation in today’s first reading. Recall the word of God that the prophet pronounced: “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch.”
Grace and salvation are not just some nice commodity that God happens to have and that we can take if we happen to want them! The salvation of the world and the transformation of our lives by grace in Christ are God’s passion! God’s great desire is to save us, to make us good, to fill us with love and gentleness, to make us into the image and body of Christ. Quite literally, God is just dying to save us!
Each day God waits for us with patient passion for the moments when we are able to accept the life of grace, of transformation into the body of Christ. And this is the great miracle of the Eucharist! In faith we become what we receive; when the Eucharistic minister says “body of Christ” to each of us, they are calling us by our true name!
And this is how we become, in the words of the prophet, “a glorious crown in the hand of the Lord,” and the very “delight” of God.
Today Jesus begins his public ministry at the request of his mother. Now much ink has been spilled interpreting and apologizing for the brusqueness of Jesus’ response, when he calls her “Woman.” But recall the next time Jesus addresses his mother as “woman,” according to John the Evangelist, at the other end of his public ministry. From the Cross Jesus says, “Woman, behold your son,” and gives Mary to the beloved disciple as his new mother.
And from that moment on, Mary is the mother of every disciple of the Lord right down to us. So let us hope in and pray to our mother, that she will help us to accept the grace of transformation in Christ, that the stone jars of our own hearts will come to be filled with the good wine of gentleness and compassion. Amen.