The party goes on - Epiphany 2
15 January 2012 11:00 | Fr. Roderick Leece
It has been a strange week of scares. For some poor women who have been given dodgy P.I.Ps when they only ever wanted inflated double Ds…to countries whose credit score has been deflated…from triple to double Bs...or triple in the case of Italy. Perhaps we all need an implant of sanity.
The preacher, whose first task is to remind his or her hearers of their loveable-ness in the eyes of the God of love…at least can affirm that each one of us is unique and precious in His eyes…we all retain our triple A status. So I begin on a positive note. And appropriately as we consider the changing of water not just to wine…but to fine wine.
It is rather lovely that Christ’s first concern when invited by the bride and groom to the wedding in Cana of Galilee was not to lay down the law…or to tell them their obligations. How many Christians make the mistake of stopping the party…to tell us we are all making terrible moral mistakes?! How wrong they are…the party goes on…even though it must be transformed. We don’t need telling we can all do better. We know it.
Jesus very discreetly…and very simply…corrects the caterer’s mistake regarding the supply of wine. The party was rocking and must not be interrupted. No surprise, I hope, from the Lord who is Himself the desire of nations, …the joy of all mankind. He comes to take away the empty pots…the cold religion of duty, and to substitute the religion of delight. Yes we are to do our duty – of course…but we are to delight in it.
St John's Gospel doesn’t present many miracles in its pages. In fact I shall name them. There are three physical healings…walking on the waters of Galilee…raising Lazarus from the dead. In addition there is the multiplication of the loaves and fish…and today’s changing of water into wine. All these are signs…pointing toward Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. In John's Gospel there are many literary references back…to the Book of Genesis. For example…both this Gospel and Genesis start with: In the beginning. On the first day of creation the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, God said, Let there be light and so there was…and God called that day…and the dark God called night. In John's Gospel the good things happen in the light of day…and the bad things take place in the dark. For John, Jesus is Light…and as John writes in his first chapter, This Light was the life of the world. There are six water jars here in this reading and there were six days of creation in Genesis. So there are many parallels.
And there are also beginnings in this gospel story that point to the future…when Christ is fully revealed. I was given a wonderful definition of what Epiphany means at St George’s school on Friday…a 6 year old put up his hand and said it is when you realise something. I must say I was rather taken aback at such a fine answer. But it serves as the theme for this holy season of Epiphany…when you realise something.
We are all used to the Last Supper aren’t we. The William Kent picture beautifully restored and well lit is having a converting effect on many visitors. But have we ever thought about the first supper? Here…at the first supper, if you will…with his newly chosen disciples, the miracle is water becoming wine. At the last supper…with the same disciples… Jesus offers in a sacred mystery the transformation…of wine …becoming blood. The blood of grapes becomes the blood of Christ…and the best wine is saved until last. The Word…made flesh at the start of St. John’s Gospel …passes through death…descends into hell… and rises victorious at the Resurrection…and the best is saved until last.
Let us in the year ahead give God a chance to work a miracle in our lives…to change us as he changed water into wine. And for us to bring this change to our homes and workplace. Jesus Christ lived on earth…and went to a wedding in Cana of Galilee…not to give us a complicated and difficult religion. He comes that we might have life…and live this miracle of life abundantly.