January 21, 2016 by eneubauer
I have been thinking about last Sunday’s Gospel taken from St. John 2:1-11 where Jesus took water during the wedding celebration at Cana in Galilee and turned it into wine. For many this story is a familiar one and countless homilies have been preached about the lessons learned from Jesus’ first recorded miracle. Let’s reread a portion of this story for the sake of this conversation:
Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then He told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from — although the servers who had drawn the water knew —, the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 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.
Today let’s focus on the meaning of the miracle found in the concluding statement from St. John. “Jesus did this as the beginning of His signs…and so revealed His glory, and His disciples began to believe in Him.”
In my experience, no matter how spectacular the truth of Christ is, over time, truth can lose its awe and wonder. It begins to feel ordinary. Like just another story in a long line of stories from the sacred scripture. Today, I would like to challenge us to reflect upon this story and remind ourselves what happened on that all but ordinary day at Cana in Galilee.
Jesus, who looked like just another man was actually the Son of God. And, in the action of this miracle or sign (working beyond the laws of nature) Jesus reveals that He is Emmanuel, God with us! Now this fact alone is cause for awe, wonder and excitement! For God loves us so much that He broke through space and time to interact with humanity in a very intimate way. These facts, once recounted and remembered for what they are – are truly awe inspiring and transformative.
Two Questions: Have we become numb to the fact that Christ, the Son of the Living God lives inside us through the Holy Spirit? Do our lives and faith practice reflect the joy of this truth, that Christ gives Himself to us each week in the Most Holy Eucharist?
In the previous paragraphs, we reflected on the WHAT. The miracle of turning water to wine. Now let’s reflect on WHY Christ performed this miracle. The scripture says He did it, “…to reveal his glory.”
At this point a very important statement follows, “and the disciples began to believe in Him.” The miracle, as a sign or revelation of Jesus as Emmanuel, produced in the disciples the gift of faith. This fact reveals something unique about the character and nature of God. First, it reveals that God is Love! The scripture states in John 3:16 that, “God so loved the world that He gave is only Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Therefore, we can deduce that God is madly in love with you. In fact, He is so in love with you that He broke the laws of nature to reveal the extent of that love. Second, the fact the miracle took place ignited the gift of faith that transformed the lives of the disciples. Their lives went from ordinary to extraordinary and we are still talking about their influence today. In conclusion, by giving all of us a manifestation of His true identity He revealed the extent to which He is willing to go to create a relational connection between Himself and His children. A connection that lasts forever!
Question: How often do we allow the fantastic, miraculous and transformative aspects of our Catholic faith become ordinary, routine, and / or even boring?
You doubt me, just take a look at the numbers and the faithful during mass. Currently, only 30% of Catholics in the United States even attend on a regular basis (1x weekly). In addition, if you watch carefully only a minority of that 30% actually participate during the mass. Many attendees wait out the mass in silence, barely making it through the routine. Before the mass even ends there is a b-line to the parking lot. It got so bad at our parish that on his days off our pastor would stand at in the foyer and confront those who left early. This is an embarrassing truth but a truth nonetheless.
These statistics and observations should stop and make us think, “Who is actually catechizing Catholic adults?” The answer is secular society. See, secular society expects us to be a quiet group of mild mannered individuals that have matured and moved beyond the awe and wonder the Christian faith inspires. To move beyond faith and works to faith alone. It is this quite and subdued faith which has been marginalized and sidelined in society. Again, whether we like it or not the culture has catechized Catholics. In doing so culture has stolen the beauty of a lived faith. The scripture address this experience by describing this type of person, “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:5)
Finally, let us consider this. If we have learned anything we have learned that there is hope! We can respond positively to this miracle and apprehend our faith again, making it the cornerstone of our lives. As Lent approaches let’s commit or recommit ourselves to shake loose the bonds of a boring, lackluster faith and embrace the beauty of Christ in the water and wine and experience again the joy of our Catholic faith.