Friday, January 25, 2013

Water into Wine (2013-01-20)

This is my homily for SUNDAY 20 January 2013. I am a Catholic chaplain in Teaneck at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) campus and for the FDU Newman Catholic Association and at New Jersey City University (NJCU) in Jersey City. We celebrate Catholic Mass - during Fall and Spring semester - every Sunday Evening (5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.) at the FDU University Interfaith Chapel, 842 River Road, Teaneck, NJ.

2nd Sunday, 20 January 2013  [Isaiah 62:1-5 | Psalm 96 | 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 | John 2:1-11]

[__01]       Water is the source and necessary natural resource for life.

Scientists – from archaeologists to astrophysicists – seek to know where water has flowed in previous centuries, on earth and on other planets.

Find the water, the ice, the glaciers. There, you will find where life was in the past – or is currently – sustained.

[__02]       And, in last Sunday’s Gospel, the origin of Christian life and sacramental life is traced to the water of the Jordan, to baptism.

Water – H20 – is our starting point – in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

[__03]        Water is the source – and necessary resource for life.  Water sources are also protected, by the government, by individuals.

But, isn’t it also true that WATER – on its own – does not constitute life

In the Book of Genesis, the Garden of Eden is places between two rivers.  The plants up because they are watered. And human life originates also when the clay – the earth/soil and water – are mixed together by the Lord to create Adam.

Water is transformed into living things.  The water itself needs to change, to be transformed.

[__04]  This change of water into wine is the Cana miracle. There is a wedding, a marriage at Cana.  Consider what happens in the first few hours (not very long) after the wedding, the bride and groom and partygoers have run out of wine.

In any commitment we make, we would feel anxious uncertain – if our original energy (whether as water or wine, or enthusiasm, or affection, or comfort) becomes scarce, runs out.

 [__05]         An important aspect of the Cana miracle is that only a limited group of individuals observes what Jesus has done.

[This is typical of other miracles, other situations where Jesus also builds relationships personally, gradually with a  small group of followers.

Through these relationships – and through his relationship with his – he teaches us about forgiveness, love, honesty, humility.]

At Cana, at the wedding, who are these selected observers?

Those who know – those on the inside track – are the working folks in the kitchen, the servants.

They are the ones who fill the basins with water.

The workers, the servants – without VIP access or reservations – are in the front row for the miracle.

[__06]    They are in the front row observing what God can do with the water we bring, the water we already possess.

In this and other miracles – such as the multiplication of the loaves – Jesus again sends no one to the marketplace to buy more.  What we already possess is transformed and multiplied.      

[__07]   C.S. Lewis – writing about marriage in his book, Mere Christianity -  writes that the state of being in love does not last. It is what we sometimes run out of.

[Page 109] à ”Love is not merely a feeling but rather a deep unity maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit, reinforced by the special grace which the partners ask and receive from God.

They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other, as you love yourself [and take care of yourself] even when you do not like yourself.”[1]

[__08]         C.S. Lewis continues his reflection on marriage –

Ceasing to be in love does not mean ceasing to love.

Or, as Lewis summarizes it in Gospel terms, no one really lives unless he or she first dies.

We read in John 12:24:

“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But, if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

And, it’s Good News when we willingly die, lay down our lives for each other, even amid a struggle to do the right thing.

The source, the natural resource of our water, becomes God’s wine, the best saved until last.

[1] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, page 109.

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