There are two topics contained in today’s readings about which I want to share some thoughts with you. One is about symbols and their significance. The other is about transformation, particularly the transforming power God gives us in our Church’s Sacraments.
Let me begin by directing your attention now to two weddings, the first being the wedding at Cana about which we just heard in this gospel account. It was of great importance because at that wedding Jesus performed the first of His miracles. The second is “The Wedding Feast of the Lamb.
Bread, water, wine and weddings are universal elements in the lives of everyone. They carry meanings to everyone in our world. Therefore it is by no accident that God uses them to enter into our hearts and souls. God typically uses the ordinary to bring us the extra-ordinary.
All of the Sacraments are part of normal events that occur in our lives. God uses them, outward signs that they are, to convey His inner reality to us, His Spirit. Baptisms occur at birth. Confirmations occur at our maturation. Self-gift and union with others is found in Holy Communion. Forgiveness is a big part of our lives. God comes to us in forgiveness us and thereby empowers us to forgive others. The self-gift of our lives for the sake of others is found in Holy Orders and in Matrimony. The Sacrament of the Sick gives us the Presence of God in our suffering and in our death.
There are two great wedding feasts found in the New Testament, one being the wedding feast of Cana and the other being what the bible refers to as “The Wedding Feast of the Lamb”, namely the Last Supper. The first wedding banquet opens the gospel of St. John — the second closes it. These two wedding feasts taken together bracket the self-giving of God in His Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, the One anointed to hand over God’s Spirit and fuse Him into us.
Responding to His mother’s request at Cana’s wedding banquet, Jesus declares that His “hour” has not yet come. Nevertheless at Mary’s request He acts, changing water into rich wine. At the close of His life His “hour” comes in its fullness beginning with the Last Supper, whereupon He changes the wine into His Precious Blood. His “hour” that began with Holy Thursday’s Last Supper extends through Good Friday to His Resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday.
It is in His Last Supper, at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, that God in Christ “marries” us. “This is my body,” He declares. Take it. “This is my blood, mingle it with yours.” Is this not marriage? A young bride and groom give their bodies and souls, give their whole lives to each other to be joined together in a covenant bond that lasts forever. That is precisely what Jesus did for us at the Last Supper. That is precisely what Jesus is doing each time we receive Him in Holy Communion.
Furthermore, at the beginning of that Last Supper, Jesus washes the feet of His disciples. Thereupon He declares them to be His friends – friends forever and ever. Again, isn’t that what marriage is all about – two bonding together as friends forever and ever? For that to really happen a certain transformation needs to occur within us. We need to reconfigure our attitudes and feelings from being self-centered to being other-centered. A real change needs to occur deep within us.
At the wedding feast in Cana there were six stone water jars present holding all of the water that would be needed for the party. A lot would be needed. Isn’t there a lot in our lives that we have watered down? We have watered down faith, watered down courage, watered down hope, and watered down visions about our selves and our lives. Much in our lives has been diluted – even degraded. Ask yourself: Do the television shows that are presented to us build up or de-grade marriage, faith, our beliefs in our selves, our hopes and our dreams? Do they build up faith and trust in others, or in God? I think we all have to admit that much in our hearts and souls has been watered down in a culture that waters them down.
St. John, in his gospel, tells us: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” [John 3:17] That saving power would be let loose in our ordinary lives through Christ. Christ was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin. At His baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist Jesus of Nazareth was anointed by the Holy Spirit to become God’s Christ for us, God’s Anointed One for us. On His Cross — when all was finished — Christ Jesus, St. John reports, “handed over His spirit”. By the power of the Holy Spirit He was raised from the dead. At Pentecost He sent God’s transforming Holy Spirit in power to charge us, fill us, and transform us into being His witnesses in our world.
God in Christ evidently has chosen to save our world by filling us with His powerful, life-giving, and transforming Holy Spirit. It is Christ’s mission to place God’s Spirit within us in all that we ordinarily think, say, and do. But for that to happen we must respond to God’s initiative. God has offered – nothing will happen unless and until we respond.
And so it is that in today’s Gospel account we find St. John telling us that because of His miracle at this wedding feast Christ’s disciples believed. It was the first time His disciples believed. And why did they believe? Because at a wedding they found God’s transforming love let loose in our world through human love.
Love’s transforming power can change anything and everything. If we respond to love and allow it into our hearts and souls we become changed persons. If we let God’s love loose in our world the world we live in would be changed – transformed. All that we’ve watered down would be turned into rich and tasty wine.
Ask yourself if your life didn’t change when you first fell in love. Ask yourself if you thought a whole lot better about yourself after you fell in love than before. Probably before you didn’t think you amounted to very much or could do very much because you felt that no one loved you. But after you experienced love coming to you, didn’t you think a whole lot better of yourself and act more boldly and courageously? Weren’t you a really changed person?
God wants us all to walk in “the glorious freedom of the sons and daughters of God.” God wants us to think well of ourselves and act accordingly, not living in watered down lives. He has fallen in love with you and has married himself to you in Christ. The big question is will you respond to Him and give Him your heart as He has given you His? Will you share that with those around you? God’s love is for you to let that love loose in the lives of those around you.