Saturday, January 19, 2013

Homily; Epiphany II

 The Second Sunday after the Epiphany 2013

On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee

If St. John’s account of the marriage at Cana in Galilee were to appear as a wedding announcement in the Dallas Morning News, we would find it very odd. The bride and groom are not named: Just Mary and Jesus and no indication at all of why they were there and their relationship to the man and woman being married.  And since Jesus brought all his fishing buddies no wonder they ran out of wine.

St. Augustine comments on the Gospel:What marvel if he went to that house to a marriage who came into this world to a marriage.”

It is a marriage announcement but not just between that particular man and woman but between God and mankind.

St. Augustine also tells that this Gospel ismysterious and redolent with symbols and signs’ not least of all are the first few words ‘on the third day’.

In the first chapter of John’s Gospel he says three times ‘the next day’ and then at the beginning of the second chapter, the Wedding at Cana, he says ‘on the third day.’

St. John starts with those famous words ‘in the beginning’ and he wants us to think right away Genesis 1 verse 1: ‘in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ and of the New Creation of the Word made flesh. On the same day that God created light and darkness, the Light begins to shine in the darkness.

Next Day Day 2: John the water Baptiser says “Behold the Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world’. On the same day God separated the water and the skies.

Next Day Day 3: Jesus calls his first disciples Andrew and Peter the Rock the same day God made the dry rocky land

Next Day Day 4: Jesus calls Philip and Nathaniel, to whom Jesus says ‘you will see the heavens opened and the angels ascending and descending’, the very same day God filled the heavens with the sun, the moon and the stars.

Three days later,  if you are keeping up with the Math, Day 7: the Wedding at Cana, the same day that God made his covenant with Adam and Eve.  

The point of all that looking backwards is that we understand that the coming of the Word and Son of God, Jesus Christ, is not just a triage, God patching up the wounded as best He can, setting up a soup kitchen for the poor banished children of Eve, when we need a surgical procedure, bloody, costly, and dangerous.  What we need is a Re-creation, a New Creation, in the words of St. Paul: ‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

There is ultimately only one reason for being a Christian and it is not that you might become yourself but that you might be fundamentally changed, transformed and recreated.  That is the possibility and promise of the Gospel: water into wine.

So ‘the third day’ also points to the day of the Lord’s Death and Resurrection.  When the Mother of Jesus says to her Son ‘they have no wine’ he replies ‘my hour has not yet come.’  We have no wine, no resources for us to escape the terrible tyranny of ourselves, our ‘unruly wills and sinful affections’, which God alone can bring into order. Water must become wine. And that he will do that only when his hour comes, the hour of his glory, the glory of the Cross.

The way of transformation can never be easy for us, weighted down as we are by the gravity of the familiar. If you manage to forget for a moment how comfortable you are in your misery, have no fear, someone will come along and tell you “you will never change.” Maybe one of your friends, certainly our old and ancient enemy.  But water became wine.

This is not tragedy, but comedy. “Wine gladdens the heart of man” (Ps. 104:15). The laughter of the marriage on the third day, the unrestrained jubilation of the Resurrection on the third day. ‘They shall become one flesh’.  Marriage ‘signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee’.  By Baptism we are incorporated into the Body of Christ, we become one flesh with him – ‘if we die with him, we shall also live with him’ (2 Timothy2:11) – ‘we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life’ (romans 6:4).

The first of his signs, when he manifested his glory, but not the last.

On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee

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