LATEST HOMILY
2nd Sunday in the Ordinary Time
January 16, 2022    


 

In the Divine Office [the official prayer book that all priests and religious in final vows are obligated to pray], the antiphon for  the Canticle of Zechariah at morning prayer on the feast of the Epiphany proclaims; “Today the Bridegroom claims his bride, the Church, since Christ has washed her sins away in Jordan’s waters; the Magi hasten with their gifts to the royal wedding; and the wedding guests rejoice, for Christ has changed water into wine, alleluia.” 

Even though we are now in “ordinary time” this antiphon still rings true today, for a number of reasons. The antiphon expresses the manifestation of Christ on three separate occasions; at his baptism, at the presentation of the gifts by the Magi, and the miracle of water turned to wine at the wedding feast at Cana. This epiphany antiphon also characterizes the life and mission of Jesus as a wedding celebration; Christ as the bridegroom and the Church his mystical body as the bride. 

At the wedding feast at Cana that was near Nazareth, the place where Jesus grew up, his mother Mary [she is never mentioned by name in this story!] and his disciples were present. We are told that there were six large pots prepared for the ritual purification, which Jews were expected to perform on entering a house and before eating. They are therefore a symbol of the Old Law. The number six is not without meaning. It is an imperfect number, one short of the perfect seven. And, at this moment, they are empty. Jesus has them filled with water. Later, he will tell a woman that he can give her water to drink, which will relieve her thirst forever. The water, when poured out, turns out to be wine, not just ordinary wine but of the highest quality. So much so that the steward of the feast is surprised. It is normal, he says, to serve a second-rate wine when people's taste buds are blunted by much drinking. "But you have kept the best wine until now." Yes indeed.

This wine symbolized the New Way that Jesus is introducing, far better than what had gone before. In the other gospels, Jesus speaks of new wine not to be put in old wineskins. The chief steward did not know where the wine had come from; but the servants knew. Just as the leaders of the Jews did not recognize the good wine that was Jesus; but Jesus' disciples did. They were the ones who were distributing it on Jesus' behalf. And there was so much of this new wine: 120-180 gallons! It represents the generosity and liberality of God. "I have come that they may have life, life in abundance!"

The God we worship was made manifest in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man. The mark of a Christian is that faith is placed in a God who deemed to take on sinful flesh and become one like us in all things but sin, a scandal to some and to others foolishness, and for us a sign of salvation.  The God of Christians is a God who experienced the pain and suffering of humanity and took on the burden of sin in order to save us. Our God is not one who resides in some far away kingdom, but who is made manifest every day of our lives. First through his son Jesus Christ.

This same Jesus who present at an ordinary wedding feast did extraordinary things to demonstrate his love for us and to give us an example of the generosity we should have for each other. It should not take an extraordinary event to make us aware of the presence of Jesus in our lives and the lives of those around us. The fact is that the epiphany of Jesus was not just celebrated last Sunday, or the Sunday before, or even today, Jesus should be manifested in our lives on a daily basis, in our work and in our prayer. From the most mundane work to the most complicated task that we have to perform, the generosity and love of Christ should shine through.

God’s love for us is so great, greater than having 120 gallons of the best wine at a wedding feast, that we should always be overwhelmed by this great gift, and feel the need to always share it with others.  Recognition of Christ comes with consistent prayer and devotion, and humble obedience to the precepts of the gospel. As Catholics we have the gift of the Eucharist, where Christ is present, his flesh and blood poured out for us. We are not only called to recognized Christ in the Eucharist, but to partake of him so as to gain spiritual strength for the journey that will lead us to eternal life. 

The wedding feast at Cana continues here today in this mass and every mass throughout the world. Even when we leave this place the celebration must continue, because Christ is the bridegroom and the Church his bride, and as long as this relationship remains there must be celebration.  And so, the Christian life is one of rejoicing; “for the Lord delights in you, and makes your land his spouse…as the bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you.” May Jesus who was manifested in the miracle at Cana, make himself known to us in the breaking of the bread here today, and in the very ordinary events of our lives. May Jesus who was made holy, make us holy and may we continue to sing his praises proclaiming his marvelous deeds to all the nations. 


 

For comments and suggestions: Sacred Heart Catholic Church Web Team
Updated: January 16, 2022

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