OT II [C] (Jan 20) Sunday Homily- One-page summary
Central theme: This week we are at a wedding in Cana where Jesus reveals his Divine power by his first miracle, transforming water into wine. The Bible begins with one wedding, that of Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 2:23-24), and ends with another, the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9, 21:9, 22:17).Jesus also blesses a marriage, perhaps at that moment instituting the Sacrament of Matrimony. Throughout the Bible, marriage is the symbol of the Covenant relationship between God and His chosen people. God is the faithful Groom and humanity is His beloved bride. Let us pray for God’s daily miracles in our families.
Scripture lessons summarized: We see the theme of God’s covenant relationship beautifully presented in today’s first reading, where Isaiah uses the metaphor of spousal love to describe God’s love for Israel. God’s fidelity to his people is compared to a husband’s fidelity to his wife. Isaiah predicts God’s salvation of Jerusalem after the return of the Babylonian exiles and visualizes it as a wedding between God and Jerusalem. Jesus’ provision of abundant wine for the wedding feast in Cana signifies that the day foreseen by Isaiah has arrived.Anticipating the joy of this wedding, the psalmist urges us in the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 96),” Sing to the Lord a new song.” In today’s second reading, St. Paul reminds us that the new wine that Jesus pours out for us is the gift of the Holy Spirit, given to his bride. In today’s Gospel, John describes the first of the seven “signs’ by which Jesus showed forth his Divinity. When the wine “ran short,” Jesus’ Mother told him about it. At first Jesus seemed to refuse to do anything about it. But later he told the servants to fill six large stone jars with water and take some of the miraculous water-made-wine to the headwaiter. When they did so, the headwaiter expressed his surprise that such a great wine had been reserved for late use.
Life messages: 1) Let us, “invite Jesus and Mary to remain with us in our homes” when we feel shortages in our family lives. The spouses need Jesus and Mary when their dreams are gone, mutual love seems dried up, the relationship becomes boring, and raising the children becomes a burden draining all their energy. The awareness of the presence of Jesus and Mary in the family will encourage parents to create an atmosphere of prayer, Bible-reading, mutual love and respect with a spirit of forgiveness and sacrificial service at home. It will refresh and renovate family life, removing its boredom.
2) Let us follow Mary’s instruction, “Do whatever He tells you.” This is the only advice or command given by Mary which is recorded in the New Testament, and it is a prerequisite for miracles in our families. The Bible tells us how to do the will of God and effect salvific changes in our daily lives.
3) Just as Jesus filled the empty water jars with wine, let us fill the empty hearts around us with love, mercy and compassion. By the miracle of Cana, Jesus challenges us also to enrich the empty lives of those around us with the new wine of love, mercy, concern and care.
4) Let us learn to appreciate the miracles of God’s providence in our lives. God, often as an uninvited guest in our families, works daily miracles in our lives by protecting us from physical and moral dangers, providing for our needs, inspiring us and strengthening us with His Holy Spirit. Let us also appreciate the miracle of the Real Presence of the Lord on the altar where God transforms our offering of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Full Text: O T II [C] (Jan 20): Is 62:1-5; I Cor 12: 4-11, Jn 2:1-11
Welcome back to Ordinary Time, the longest of the Church Seasons. This is our base line, our normal; the other seasons celebrate something (Christmas, Easter) or anticipate (Lent, Advent). But good old Ordinary Time is when we cover most of the story of Jesus’ life, preaching using parables with the day-to-day struggles and successes.
Homily starter anecdotes # 1: Transformation at the hand of Christ: It is said that the writer Leo Tolstoy experienced that kind of transformation. He told about it in a book titled, My Conversion. Tolstoy wrote, “[When] Faith came to me; I believed in Jesus Christ, and all my life suddenly changed. I ceased to desire that which previously I had desired, and on the other hand, I took to desiring what I had never desired before. That which formerly used to appear good in my eyes appeared evil and that which used to appear evil appeared good.” Before his conversion, Tolstoy had acquired fame and fortune through his great writings. But he was unsatisfied. “I fought duels,” he wrote. “I gambled, I wasted my substance wrung from the sweat of peasants and deceived men. Lying, robbery, adultery of all kinds, drunkenness was my life.” His conversion, one of the most dramatic of modern times, gave his life a new purpose, a new meaning and, he affirmed, an abiding satisfaction. [William E. Thorn, Catch the Little Foxes That Spoil the Vine (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1980).] All of us remember the story of the old alcoholic who ended his addiction. When asked about Jesus’ miracle of turning the water into wine replied, “I don’t know about that, but I do know that in my house Jesus changed whiskey into furniture.” Many millions of people over the centuries have experienced that kind of transformation at the hand of Christ. The miracle of Cana gives us that lesson
# 2: “I have two wives:“ There was an article in Reader’s Digest recently by a man named Patrick Cooney titled, “Why I Wear Two Wedding Bands.” Cooney says that he has worn two wedding rings for more than a dozen years. When he’s asked about them, he responds, “I have two wives.” He’s kidding, of course. One day a stranger would not let him off with this glib answer about why he wears two rings. So, Cooney spilled the whole story. He explained his father died in 1999. As they were saying their final farewells at his funeral, his mother, who had been married to his father for 50-plus years, removed his father’s wedding ring and handed it to Patrick. Surprised, he placed the gold ring on his left middle finger, next to his wedding ring. There it has remained. He told the stranger that he wears his father’s wedding ring to honor his father and his parents’ marriage. He also wears it to remind himself to be the son, brother, husband, and dad that his father wanted him to be. He is now 60 years old and has been married for 30 years. The stranger walked away, then turned back and said, “Sir, you know, I have my father’s wedding ring in my sock drawer at home, and beginning today, I am going to start wearing it.” Powerful story. But isn’t it true of all our relationships? It’s important not only to be faithful and attentive to our spouse, but to our children or our parents and our friends. I can tell you right now, without any hesitation at all that it is God’s will for us to take care of our relationships. Jesus demonstrated it honoring his mother’s wish and saving the family reputation of the bridegroom at Cana. (Adapted Rev. by King Duncan in www.Sermons.com and quoted by Fr. Kayala).
# 3: “Make sure you invite Jesus and Mary!” Johnny Carson (who hosted the Tonight Show for 30 years), was interviewing an eight-year-old boy one night. The young man was asked to appear on the Late Show because he had rescued two friends from a coal mine outside his hometown in West Virginia. As Johnny questioned him, it became apparent that the boy was a Christian. Johnny asked him if he attended Sunday School. When the boy said he did, Johnny inquired, “What are you learning in Sunday School?” “Last week,” the boy replied, “our lesson was about how Jesus went to a wedding and turned water into wine.” The audience burst into laughter and applause. Keeping a straight face, Johnny asked, “And what did you learn from that story?” The boy squirmed in his chair. It was apparent he hadn’t thought about this. But then he lifted up his face and said, “If you’re going to have a wedding, make sure you invite Jesus and Mary!” And that is precisely the message of today’s Gospel: make sure you invite Jesus and Mary wherever you live and wherever you go – they are the only ones you’ll ever need. In other words, today’s Gospel lesson is about the sufficiency of Christ in our lives and the power of his Mother’s intercession.
Introduction: This is a season of “epiphanies,” in which the Liturgy shows us God’s revelation of Jesus as the Messiah to the shepherds, the Magi, King Herod, John the Baptist and those gathered around John at the Jordan. This week we are at a wedding where Jesus reveals his Divine power by his first miracle. Pope St. John Paul II gave us a beautiful gift when he introduced the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. The second mystery is the subject of today’s Gospel, the Wedding Feast at Cana where Jesus changed water into wine.The miracle at Cana is the first of seven “signs” in John’s Gospel – miraculous events by which Jesus showed forth his Divinity. Jesus, his mother and his disciples were guests at the wedding feast. When the wine “ran short,” Jesus’ mother told him about it. At first Jesus seemed to refuse to do anything about it. But later he told the servants to fill six large stone jars with water and take some to the headwaiter. When they did so, the water had become wine, better wine than that which had run out. The Bible begins with one wedding, that of Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 2:23-24), and ends with another, the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9, 21:9, 22:17). Throughout the Bible, marriage is the symbol of the Covenant relationship between God and His Chosen People. God is the Groom and humanity is His beloved bride. We see this beautifully reflected in today’s first reading, where Isaiah uses the metaphor of spousal love to describe God’s love for Israel. God’s fidelity to his people is compared to a husband’s fidelity to his wife. The prophet reminds his people that their God rejoices in them as a Bridegroom rejoices in His Bride and that He will rebuild Israel, if they will be reconciled to Him and repair their strained relationship with Him. By our Baptism, each of us has been betrothed to Christ as a bride to her Groom (II Cor. 11:2). Anticipating the joy of this wedding, in the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 96), the psalmist urges us, ”Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all you lands. Sing to the Lord; bless His Name.” In today’s second reading, St. Paul reminds us that the new wine that Jesus pours out for us is the gift of the Holy Spirit, given to his bride. Jesus’ first sign at Cana and Paul’s advice to the Corinthians challenge us to become more sensitive to the many signs of God’s power and glory around us, to open our eyes and hearts to perceive them as coming from God and to give glory to God for them.
First reading: Is 62:1-5, explained: The reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah suggests one possible meaning for Jesus’ first sign at Cana. Here, Isaiah predicts God’s salvation of Jerusalem and visualizes it as a wedding between God and Jerusalem. After reminding the exiles who have returned from Babylon that their forced departure from their homeland and subsequent detainment in Babylon was the just punishment for their disobedience to God, Isaiah gives them the assurance that their God is now wholly with them. Through their infidelities, the Chosen People and their land earned the names “Forsaken” and “Desolate” (v. 4). But God is a faithful partner and offers them a vision of restoration. Forgiven and rehabilitated, Israel will be restored to her status as the espoused and beloved of God. Those who were scorned and mocked by the nations will be called Hephzibah (My Delight) and Beulah (Espoused). Jesus’ provision of abundant wine for the wedding feast in Cana (120 to 180 gallons of it), signifies that the day foreseen by Isaiah has arrived. By our Baptism, each of us has been betrothed to Christ as a bride to her Groom (II Cor. 11:2).
Second reading: I Cor 12:4-11, explained: Paul reminds the members of the Corinthian community that each of them is endowed by the Holy Spirit with distinctive gifts. All the charisms are really signs of the Holy Spirit’s activity and point to the glory of Jesus and his Heavenly Father. Since the Holy Spirit is the very Life of God, the outpouring of the Spirit and His charisms upon us who believe in Jesus is a participation in the Life of God. In addition, each gift has been given for the sake and well-being of others in the family of believers and in order to bear witness to God’s power and glory. There are many gifts but only one Giver; there are different gifts but only one goal, i.e., the common good of the whole believing community. Hence, we must use our gifts in such a way as to build up, protect and nourish the ties that bind us in Christ, because we are united to God as in a marital relationship. Espoused to God, we are bound also to one another, much as “in-laws” are interlinked through loving familial bonds. In the context of today’s Gospel report of the wedding at Cana, Paul is telling spouses to accept each other as God’s gifts, to each other.
Gospel exegesis: The setting for the miracle: Christ’s first miracle, which John refers to as a “sign,” takes place in the village of Cana in Galilee. The hometown of the disciple Nathaniel but an otherwise insignificant town, Cana was located some eight miles northeast of Nazareth.This miracle is the first in John’s series of seven signs by which Jesus manifested his power and glory during his public ministry.Presumably, the “disciples” who accompanied Jesus were Andrew, Simon Peter, Zebedee’s sons James and John, Philip, and Nathaniel. Jesus’ mother Mary was also present. Joseph is not mentioned in the story; he may well have died already. It is also possible that Mary was in some way related to the bride or groom and may have been serving as an assistant to the wedding director. According to a version recounted in the Coptic Gospels, the bridegroom was Simon of Cana, Jesus’ disciple and the brother of Jacob and Judah. He was the son of Joseph’s brother Cleophas (Helpai) and Mary’s elder sister, and, hence, the nephew of both Mary and Joseph. Such weddings usually began on Wednesdays with the celebration lasting for seven days. During this period, guests arrived each day bringing gifts and participating in the joy of the occasion. In verse 3, we read that, in the course of the celebration, “the wine ran short.” This was a difficult situation for the young couple, and may indicate that they came from poor families. Among the Jews of that time, wine was not only considered a staple food item, but was also frequently used in times of celebration. To run short of wine at a wedding feast was certainly a serious problem, particularly damaging to the reputation of the host and an ill omen for the newly-married couple.
Mary’s intervention: When Mary pointed out the problem to Jesus, his reply seems, on the surface, to be a bit sharp. This, however, is to misunderstand the passage. Although Jesus addressed his mother as “Woman” or “Dear Woman,” the term was roughly equivalent to our word “lady” or “madam”, and was not, in itself, unnecessarily harsh. It was, in fact, a term of respect and is the same word Jesus used when he addressed his mother from the cross, saying of John, “Woman, behold your Son.” Jesus’ next words are also easily misunderstood. He asked Mary, ”What is it to me and to you?” This implies no rudeness on Jesus’ part. Probably, it means, “We are guests, and guests are not expected to supply the things needed at a feast.” Jesus further protested, “My hour has not yet come,” The “hour” of Jesus includes his passion, death, Resurrection and exaltation taken as one great event. In spite of Jesus’ detachment from the problem, Mary instructed the waiters, “Do whatever He tells you,” showing Faith that her son would do what the newlyweds and their families really needed. The Church uses the account of this miracle to remind us that, by virtue of her position as the Mother of God and our Heavenly Mother, Mary’s intercession for us with God has great power.
The symbolic meaning of the miracle as seen by the Fathers of the Church: The love of God is manifested at its most powerful in the love between husband and wife, in marriages that are sacraments, that is, in marriages in which Christ is the always-present Wedding Guest. As ministers of the marriage sacrament, husbands and wives, in their love for one another, mirror for all of us the great love of God in our midst. The symbols used and their meaning: 1) The fruit of the vine is used in the Old Testament as an emblem of the joy associated with the Messianic age and a gift and blessing of God (Dt 7:13; Prv 3:10, Ps 105). The water in the jars represents the old order of Jewish law and custom (Jer 31:12, Hos 14:7, Amos 9:13), which Jesus was to replace with something better, namely his sweet and inspiring Gospel. 2) The fact that the abundant wine (120 gallons) provided by Christ was of suchsuperior quality and taste also reveals the glory, satisfaction, sufficiency, and lavishness of the grace, Divine Life, He provides to sinners. Since it is God Who provides, we will lack nothing; however, to receive it, we must be emptied, giving all we have to Him. There are three steps found in the text which lead us to the sufficiency of Christ: a) Ask God for help (v 3). b) Obey His commands (vv 7-8). c) Expect Him to be glorified as He provides (v 11). 3) Mary’s comments, “They have no wine” (v. 3) and “Do whatever He tells you” (v. 5), can be understood as a reflection on the barrenness of the Jewish purification rituals and as a directive to look to Jesus as the new means of salvation. 4) The new wine made by Jesus signifies the “new rich wine” of the Gospel and it points to the “wine of the New Covenant” and the “Bread of Life” which Jesus provides for his disciples in the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist. The wine that Jesus had to offer, i.e., his words and works, was far superior to any other teaching or wisdom. This first sign is the manifestation of the grace and truth that has come through Jesus Christ (Jn 1:17), and serves as a summons to us all to join in the celebration. It also points to the Messianic banquet which Jesus will provide at the end of the age when He comes again in glory
Life messages: 1) Let us, “invite Jesus and Mary to remain with us in our homes.” St. John Mary Vianney suggests this as the solution for many of our family problems. He used to encourage parents to create an atmosphere of prayer, Bible-reading, mutual love and respect and sacrificial service at home so that the presence of Jesus and Mary might be perpetually enhanced and experienced in the family.
2) Let us obey the command of Mary, “Do whatever He tells you.” This is the only command given by Mary recorded in the New Testament, and it is a prerequisite for miracles in our families. The Bible tells us how to do the will of God and effect salvific changes in our daily lives.
3) We need to learn to appreciate the miracles of God’s providence in our lives. God, often as an uninvited guest in our families, works daily miracles in our lives by protecting us from physical and moral dangers, providing for our needs, inspiring us and strengthening us with His Holy Spirit.
4) Just as Jesus filled the empty water jars with wine, let us fill the empty hearts around us with love. By the miracle of Cana, Jesus challenges us to enrich the empty lives of those around us with the new wine of love, mercy, concern and care.
5) Let us appreciate the miracle of the Real Presence of the Lord on the altar. The same Jesus, who transformed water into wine at Cana, transforms our gifts of bread and wine into his own Body and Blood in order to give us spiritual nourishment. If our families have lost the savor of mutual love, let us renew them at the altar with the invigorating power of the Holy Spirit.
Joke of the Week:
1) Little Tommy was so impressed by his oldest sister’s wedding that he announced. “I want to have a wedding just like Linda had.” “That sounds great,” said his father. “But whom will you marry?” Tommy announced: “I want to marry grandma because she loves me and I love her.” “You can’t marry grandma,” his father said. “Why not?” Tommy protested. “Because she is my mother.” ”Well,” reasoned Tommy. “Then why did you marry my mother?”
2) Whisky: A Congressman was once asked about his attitude toward whiskey. “If you mean the demon drink that poisons the mind, pollutes the body, desecrates family life, and inflames sinners, then I’m against it. But, if you mean the elixir of Christmas cheer, the shield against
winter chill, the taxable potion that puts needed funds into public coffers to comfort little crippled children, then I’m for it. This is my position, and I will not compromise.”
3) The same service? A man who had been a husband for ten years was consulting a marriage counselor. “When I was first married, I was very happy. When I came home from a hard day at the shop, my little dog would race around barking and my wife would bring me my slippers with a heart-warming smile. Now after all these years everything is changed. Now when I come home, my dog brings me my slippers and my wife barks at me.” “I don’t know what you are complaining about,” said the counselor. “You are still getting the same service.”
4) Countdown! One woman asked the other, “You were always so organized in school, meticulously planning every detail. How did you plan your married life?” “Well,” said her friend, “My first marriage was to a millionaire; my second marriage was to an actor; my third marriage was to a preacher; and now I’m married to an undertaker.” Asked the friend, “What do those marriages have to do with a well-planned life?” “The first marriage was for the money, the second for the show, the third to get ready and the fourth to go!”
WEBSITES OF THE WEEK
1) Hi-tech YouTube homilies with video clips by Fr. Geoffrey Plant: Click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066
2) Catholic Internet directory: http://www.catholic.net/
3) Catholic Culture: www.catholicculture.org
4) Relevant radio: http://www.relevantradio.com/Page.aspx?pid=534
5) Once Catholic: http://www.oncecatholic.org/
18- Additional anecdotes:
1) The chicken soup is a sacrament: J. D. Salinger’s third book Franny and Zooey (1961), was originally a series of two stories in The New Yorker in 1955 and 1957. There is a scene in the book in which Franny, a 20-year-old theology major, has just come home from college for a long weekend in November 1955. She’s a nervous wreck. Her concerned mother, Bessie Glass, brings her a cup of chicken soup. Franny, unhappy, impatient, depressed, pushes the steaming cup of soup away. Franny’s brother Zooey sees this rejection and is indignant. “I’ll tell you one thing, Franny,” he says. “If it’s theology and religious life you’re studying, you ought to know that you are missing out on every single religious action that’s going on in this house. You don’t have enough sense to drink of cup of consecrated chicken soup, which is the only kind of chicken soup that Mom ever brings to anybody!” What was Franny missing? The kitchen is the church. The mother is a priest. The soup is a sacrament; an external sign of God’s healing grace. The pouring out of the soup is a healing. “Mom’s chicken soup” is “poured out” as a sacrament to soothe the soul, to quash the queasiness of a depressed daughter. That is why we read in today’s Gospel that when the first cup of wine was poured out at the Cana wedding and offered to the steward of the banquet, the wedding feast was transformed.
2) What happens when you run short of wine in your family life? Three men were sitting together bragging about how they had given duties to their new wives when the week-long honeymoon was over. The first man had married a [Baptist] woman and had told her that she was going to do the dishes and housecleaning. It took a couple days, but on the third day he came home to a clean house and dishes washed and put away. The second man had married a [Presbyterian] woman. He had given his wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, dishes, and the cooking. The first day he didn’t see any results, but the next day he saw it was better. By the third day, he saw his house was clean, the dishes were done, and there was a huge dinner on the table. The third man had married a [a Catholic] woman, a black belt holder in karate. He told her in a commanding voice that her duties were to keep the house cleaned, dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed and hot meals on the table for every meal. He said the first day he didn’t see anything, the second day he didn’t see anything, but by the third day some of the swelling had gone down from below his eyes which received karate punches from his new wife and he could see a little out of his left eye, enough to fix himself a bite to eat and load the dishwasher. We laugh to keep from crying, don’t we? (http://kentcan.xanga.com/376404947/item/). The moral: We need Jesus’ presence in the family for its smooth running.
3) The Touch of the Master’s Hand:” I suppose at one time or another we have all heard Myra Brooks Welch’s poem “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.” She was called “The poet with the singing soul.” The poem goes, “’Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer thought it scarcely worth his while / to waste much time on the old violin, but held it up with a smile; / “What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried, “Who’ll start the bidding for me?” / “A dollar, a dollar; then two!” “Only two? Two dollars, and who’ll make it three? / Three dollars, once; three dollars twice; going for three.” But no, / from the room, far back, a gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow; / Then, wiping the dust from the old violin, and tightening the loose strings, / he played a melody pure and sweet as a caroling angel sings. / The music ceased, and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low,/said; “What am I bid for the old violin?” And he held it up with the bow. /A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two? Two thousand! And who’ll make it three? / Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice, and going and gone,” said he. / The people cheered, but some of them cried, “We do not quite understand. /What changed its worth?” Swift came the reply: “The touch of a master’s hand.” /And many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin, / is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the old violin. / A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine; a game – and he travels on. / “He is going” once, and “going” twice, He’s going and almost gone.” / But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd never can quite understand / the worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought by the touch of the Master’s hand.“ Jesus touches the wedding and lifts it, not just with the miracle but also by his presence. He takes this ordinary wedding, and he transforms into that which is extraordinary. He takes a fisherman by the name of Peter and transforms him into the great preacher of Christendom.
4) Powerful Guest: Some time ago a woman wrote a fascinating article about redecorating her family home. Things went well until her husband overruled the interior decorator and hung a 16-by 20 inch picture of Jesus in the most prominent place in the house. She tried to get her husband to reconsider, but he absolutely refused. Then during a discussion with him, she recalled those words of Jesus: “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my Heavenly Father.” That settled it. Her husband won. Now she says she is glad her husband won, because she thinks that picture of Jesus had a remarkable effect on her family and on visitors. The picture’s most striking impact is on conversations, says the woman. It inevitably draws them to a higher level. The woman ends her article by saying she knows people will smile at her remarks and even ridicule them, but she doesn’t care. “This much I know,” she says. “When you invite Jesus into your home, you’re never the same again.” It is the message of the miracle of Cana. (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies).
5) “The best is yet to be”: In a drama written for television entitled Love Among the Ruins, Lawrence Olivier and Katharine Hepburn star as two old friends who were childhood sweethearts forty years ago. Still a single man, Lawrence Olivier is now a prominent lawyer near the age of retirement. Katharine Hepburn is now a widow who comes by chance to Olivier’s office for some legal help. Their old romance flares up again, and this time Olivier gets enough courage to ask Hepburn to marry him. To convince her to say ‘yes’ he quotes these verses from Robert Browning’s poetry: “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be. The last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hands.” -This television drama about love and marriage, and about “the best is yet to be,” throws some light on today’s Gospel story about the wedding feast at Cana. In his book, John: The Different Gospel, Fr. Michael Taylor points out that, unlike the other evangelists, John calls Jesus’ works of wonder signs instead of miracles. John does this because they reveal in a visible way the inner spiritual identity of Jesus. Further, the other symbol in the Cana story, The Old Testament, symbolized by the water, is not being cast aside; it is being transformed by Jesus into something better –the new wine of the New Testament. Indeed, this hour that has finally come is the best that is to be in human history because it is characterized by the abundance and excellence of God’s glory being revealed in Jesus (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds).
6) His presence a blessing: Francis Thomson in his poem “The Hound of Heaven” very beautifully expressed the fear of a soul challenged to yield to God. He writes that he fled from God. “Down the nights and down the days; and the labyrinthine ways of my own mind…” and at one point he writes, “For though I knew God’s love Who followed / Yet I was sore distressed, / Lest having Him, I must have nothing besides.” – We often have an unexpressed and hidden fear that God’s presence in our lives may become a hindrance or an embarrassment. We have a fear that having God we may have to give up many good things in life. Does God make the world grey with his breath? No! Not at all. Jesus is never an inconvenience. He is never an embarrassment in our lives. His presence is always a blessing (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies).
7) And “they lived happily ever after”: In The Odyssey, Homer (ca. 850 BC) wove an epic poem of 24 books around the wanderings and adventures of the mythic Odysseus, King of Ithaka. With his ships scuttled and lost at sea after the Trojan War, Odysseus angered the sea-god, Poseidon, who blocked his every attempt to return to Ithaka, forcing him to roam the earth. While he encountered and coped with one calamity after another, his faithful wife Penelope remained in Ithaka awaiting his return. Years passed with no word from Odysseus. At last, Telemachus, their only son, had grown to manhood. Suitors, wishing to take for themselves Odysseus’ wealth and kingdom had been seeking Penelope’s hand in marriage. In an effort to fend them off, Penelope promised that she would choose one of them after she had finished weaving a shroud for her father-in-law. Still hoping for her husband’s return, Penelope stalled for time by secretly unraveling each day’s weaving during that evening. Eventually, but only after years of suffering and separation, the loving couple was reunited. Current statistics in western countries give us the impression that “happily ever after” endings now exist only in the world of myth. In the book The Moral Compass, William J. Bennett says, “In recent history, marriage has devolved from being a Sacrament to a contract to a convention to, finally, a convenience, and the wedding vow changed from ‘as long as we both shall live’ to ‘as long as we both shall love.’” Today’s Gospel teaches us that if Jesus and Mary are invited into the marriage and are permanently, honorably retained in the family, they will help us solve the tough problems of our family life. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez)
8) “Lady, are you rich?” They huddled inside the storm door, two children in ragged outgrown coats. “Any old papers, lady?” I was busy. I wanted to say no-until I looked down at their feet. Thin little sandals, sopped with sleet. “Come in and I’ll make you a cup of hot cocoa.” There was no conversation. Their soggy sandals left marks upon the hearthstone. I served them cocoa and toast with jam to fortify them against the chill outside. Then I went back to the kitchen and started again on my household budget…The silence in the front room struck through to me. I looked in. The girl held the empty cup in her hands, looking at it. The boy asked in a flat voice, “Lady … are you rich?” “Am I rich? Mercy, no!” I looked at my shabby slipcovers. The girl put her cup back in its saucer-carefully. “Your cups match your saucers.” Her voice was old, with a hunger that was not of the stomach. They left then, holding their bundles of papers against the wind. They hadn’t said thank you. They didn’t need to. They had done more than that. Plain blue pottery cups and saucers. But they matched. I tested the potatoes and stirred the gravy. Potatoes and brown gravy, a roof over our heads, my man with a good steady job-these things matched, too. I moved the chairs back from the fire and tidied the living room. The muddy prints of small sandals were still wet upon my hearth. I let them be. I want them there in case I ever forget again how very rich I am (Marion Doolan in Stories for the Heart). May we discover how rich we are because we have invited Jesus into our lives!
9) When wine runs out: Carlos Baker records it in his biography of Hemingway in this way: Sunday morning dawned bright and cloudless. Ernest awoke early as always. He put on the red “Emperor’s robe” and padded softly down the carpeted stairway. The early sunlight lay in pools on the living room floor. He had noticed that the guns were locked up in the basement, but the keys, as he well knew, were on the window ledge above the kitchen sink. He tiptoed down the basement stairs and unlocked the storage room. It smelled as dank as a grave. He chose a double-barreled shotgun with a tight choke. He had used if for years to shoot pigeons. He took some shells from one of the boxes in the storage room, closed and locked the door, and climbed the basement stairs. If he saw the bright day outside, it did not deter him. He crossed the living room to the front foyer, a shrine-like entryway five feet by seven feet, with oak-paneled walls and a floor of linoleum tile. He slipped in two shells, lowered the gun butt carefully to the floor, leaned forward, pressed the twin barrels against his forehead just about the eyebrows and tripped both triggers. It happens in our own lives. The wine runs out. We become strangers to our selves and we have nowhere to go.
10) An additional set of vows : Larry Davies in his book, Sowing Seeds of Faith in a World Gone Bonkers, tells about a wedding he performed once on a wooden boat dock over a beautiful pond in Amelia county, Virginia. To his surprise, on the night before the wedding the bride (we’ll call her Pamela) called to ask him to read a special set of marriage vows to her new husband after the formal ceremony was through. She would give him a copy of the vows just before the service started. The next morning, the groom (we’ll call him Paul) also pulled Davies aside and handed him a set of vows to be read to his new wife. This was going to be interesting. The people were in place and the simple ceremony began without a hitch. Then, after the formal ceremony was over and as he was instructed, Pastor Davies pulled out the additional set of vows written by the bride for her new husband. “Paul,” the vows began,
“. . . do you agree to cook steak and potatoes on Friday?
“. . . do you agree to cut the grass and take out the trash?
“. . . do you agree to keep the truck and the car clean?
“. . . do you agree to have my coffee ready when I awake?
“. . . do you agree to take me shopping once a week without complaining?”
Davies’ next instructions were to have the bride take the groom by the hand, look into his eyes and repeat the vows the groom had written for her: “I, Pamela, agree to lovingly serve you breakfast in bed every Saturday morning and to learn how to bake homemade pies and cobblers. I will also never insist that you go shopping with me for more than one hour at a time.” Afterwards, Davies commented: “They don’t need a minister. They need a lawyer to work out this agreement.” A proper ending, he decided would have been for him to push both the bride and the groom in the pond and declare them both insane, but he resisted the impulse. Then, as he had a chance to reflect on this unusual ceremony, he decided he admired a couple who could laugh in the midst of such a serious commitment. “If they can hold on to this ability to joke and poke fun at each other, there is hope for the survival of their marriage,” he wrote. “Maybe this same lesson can apply to each of us.” (Amelia Court House, VA: ABM Enterprises, Inc., 1996, pp. 75-76)
11) “It would have been a miracle.” There’s an old story about a skeptic who continually harassed the local pastor. His one delight in life seemed to be making the pastor appear inadequate intellectually. The pastor bore those challenges to his theology and faith with great restraint. One day the skeptic was heckling the pastor about his views on miracles. “Give me one concrete example of a miracle,” the skeptic taunted. “One concrete example.” This pastor hauled off and kicked the skeptic in the shin as hard as he could. The skeptic couldn’t believe it! “What did you do that for?” The pastor asked, “Did you feel that?” “Yes,” the man said as he nursed his sore leg. “Well, if you hadn’t,” said the pastor, “it would have been a miracle!” I’m not sure that was the best way to explain miracles, but there have been times when I’ve wanted to explain things that way. Today we look at the very first miracle performed by Jesus as recorded in John’s Gospel.
12) Love isn’t love till……Quite a while ago, there was a famous singer named Mary Martin who, on one occasion, was to perform in the popular musical, South Pacific. Moments before the show, she was given a note from the composer, Oscar Hammerstein himself, who was on his deathbed. This is what it said: “Dear Mary, A bell is no bell till you ring it, A song’s not a song till you sing it. Love in your heart is not put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away.” Inspired by these words, Mary Martin went on to give one of her finest performances. After the curtain call, all the other actors and actresses warmly congratulated her, saying, “Mary, your performance is always very good. But today it was just extraordinary.” Bringing out Oscar Hammerstein’s note, Mary confessed that it was the inspiring words of the famous composer that made all the difference: “A bell is no bell till you ring it. A song’s not a song till you sing it. The love in your heart is not put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away.” -All this is clearly shown in the miracle at the wedding feast at Cana. Somebody had inadvertently failed to provide an adequate supply of wine for the week-long celebration. And just one person noticed -Mary. Something had to be done urgently, and only Mary knew the only One who could do it. Like her, Jesus, too, was concerned about the happiness of the couple and their reputation and he promptly and marvelously worked his first public miracle. That was a touching and notable demonstration of true love, both by Mary and Jesus. (James Valladares in “Your Words O Lord, are Spirit and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
13) Love: What it is: In a scene of the stage play and movie, Fiddle on the Roof, the hero Tevye on one occasion keeps nagging his wife Golda, asking her whether she loves him or not. He keeps pestering her to say she does…. But she is in no romantic mood and brushes him off, until finally she turns to him and says, “Look at this man…. Look at you….. I am your wife, I cook your meals, wash your clothes, milk the cows, raise half a dozen daughters for you, my bed is yours, everything I have and am, I share with you – and after all that, you want to know whether I love you? Oh, well… I guess I do…..” Most grown-up people, religious included, don’t go telling people they love them…. even if Jesus tells us we have to love one another. But they do express this love by what they do for those people around them every day. (Frank Michalic in Tonic for the Heart; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Let’s invite Jesus into the ordinary events of daily life; he can make them new!
14) ‘What hast thou to give me?”. Rabindranath Tagore describes the reward for total surrender in Gitanjali. The beggar went from door to door on the village path. Then he saw the golden chariot of the king in distance. His hopes rose high and he thought his evil days were at an end, and he stood waiting for alms. The chariot stopped where he stood. The king came with down from the chariot with a smile. The beggar felt that the luck of his life had come at last. Then suddenly the king held out his right hand and asked, ‘What hast thou to give me?”. The beggar was confused and then from his wallet he slowly took out the least little grain of corn and gave it to him. At day’s end he emptied the bag on the floor he found a little grain of gold among the heap. He regretted that he had not given the whole thing to the King. Dear friends whatever is submitted to God is turned into something precious. The insignificant city, Cana, the stone jars, the insignificant people at Cana all became significant with the presence of Jesus. “The only condition is to fill them to the brim”- total and unconditional submission without any reservation. (Fr. Bobby).
15) “Where did you get that much money?” : Mother Teresa of Calcutta told this story: “A few weeks ago two young people came to our house and gave me a quite sum of money to feed the poor. In Calcutta, we cook for 9,000 people every day. The two of them wished their money to be used to feed these hungry people, I then asked them, ‘Where did you get that much money?’ They answered, ‘Two days ago we were married. Before our wedding, we decided that we would not spend any money on special wedding clothes nor would we have a wedding banquet. We wanted the money we would spend on these things to go to the poor.’” For high caste Hindus, to act like this was a scandal. Their friends and relatives found it unthinkable that a couple from such outstanding families should get married without bridal gowns and a proper wedding feast. So Mother Theresa asked them, “Why did you give all this money?” They gave her this surprising answer: “We love one another so much that we wanted to make a special sacrifice for each other at the very start of our married life.” In today’s Gospel Jesus works his first miracle to save a marriage. (Fr. Benitz).
16) Logic: The popular belief that “Jesus was not a teetotaler,” but a moderate drinker of fermented wine who even “miraculously ‘manufactured’ a high-quality (alcoholic) wine at Cana” and instituted the Last Supper with alcoholic wine, has no doubt influenced the drinking habits of millions of Christians around the world more than anything else that the Bible says about drinking. The reason is simple. The example and teachings of Christ are normative for Christian belief and practice. If Christ made, commended and used fermented wine, then there can hardly be anything intrinsically wrong with a moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages! Simply stated, “If wine was good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for me!”
17) What Are You Going to Do When the Wine Runs Out? The Nobel Prize author Earnest Hemmingway, well known for his book, The Old Man and The Sea, was a person who went for it all. A newspaper reporter, he was involved in the Spanish Civil War, became ambulance driver during WWII, was a friend to bullfighters as well as authors–he did it all. And, when he did it, he did it to the fullest. In a manner of speaking he enjoyed the wine of life. But there came a day when the wine ran out. Carlos Baker records it in his biography of Hemmingway in this way: Sunday morning dawned bright and cloudless. Ernest awoke early as always. He put on the red “Emperor’s robe” and padded softly down the carpeted stairway. The early sunlight lay in pools on the living room floor. He had noticed that the guns were locked up in the basement, but the keys, as he well knew, were on the window ledge above the kitchen sink. He tiptoed down the basement stairs and unlocked the storage room. It smelled as dank as a grave. He chose a double-barreled shotgun with a tight choke. He had used it for years to shoot pigeon s. He took some shells from one of the boxes in the storage room, closed and locked the door, and climbed the basement stairs. If he saw the bright day outside, it did not deter him. He crossed the living room to the front foyer, a shrine-like entryway five feet by seven feet, with oak-paneled walls and a floor of linoleum tile. He slipped in two shells, lowered the gun butt carefully to the floor, leaned forward, pressed the twin barrels against his forehead just about the eyebrows and tripped both triggers. What are you going to do when the wine runs out? (Brett Blair, www.Sermons.com) quoted by Fr. Kayala.
18) Is Vodka Allowed? There is a legend which states that in the late middle ages, the Russian Czar had come to the conclusion that in order to unite his country, there would have to be one state religion to which everyone should belong. He considered carefully all of his options. Finally, he settled on a short list of three, Islam, Buddhism or Christianity. He called representatives from each of the three religions to his court in Russia, and asked them each to state the case for their religion before himself and his advisors. The Muslim representative spoke first. He spoke of the humaneness of Islam, of its tolerance for others, its respect for science and culture, and how it came with a complete legal system that had been refined and perfected through the centuries. When he had finished his pitch, he asked the Czar if there were anything else he would like to know. “One thing,” the Czar told him, “Does Allah look favorably upon Vodka?” The Muslim emissary shook his head and told him no, that alcohol was an abomination to Allah, and was not permitted. “Next!” cried the Czar, and the Buddhist missionary was ushered in. The Buddhist monk explained the basic teachings of the Buddha, how all of life was suffering and how the Buddha showed the way to end suffering. Finally the King was getting bored and said, “I’ll tell you how I stop suffering. Vodka! What does your Buddha have to say about that?” The Buddhist monk told him that intoxicants were a hindrance to enlightenment, and were not permitted in Buddhism. “Next!” cried the Czar, and a Christian Orthodox monk was ushered in. But before he could even begin teaching his elementary catechism, the Czar stopped him short. “Just tell me one thing, does your Jesus allow vodka?” “Are you kidding?” the monk said, “We will give you wine and bread at every Eucharistic celebration.” “Now I know what I am!” proclaimed the Czar, “I am a Christian! Baptize me, and all of my people.” We can imagine that he also ordered them to break out the vodka in celebration. (Fr. Kayala). L/19
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 9) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit this website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle B homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html for the Vatican version of this homily.
Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604. (For a 16 GB USB of all my preaching & Teaching materials (45,000 pages) and 240 video lessons, contact firstname.lastname@example.org).