The assignment was a five-minute homily on the stated passage. We began with the exegetical work in an earlier post.
Scripture: John 2:1-11
Today, Jesus, the Bridegroom of the Church, is calling us to our wedding feast.
A CHALLENGE has come to me three times: in two podcasts and a book. The podcasts are Every Knee Shall Bow and The Bible Project; the book has the very dry title, Elements of Homiletic. The challenge is to read each story or passage in the Bible in such a way as to see the whole Gospel message. Keeping that in mind let’s look again at this wedding story.
Mary is at a wedding to which Jesus and his disciples are called. The bridal families are out of wine and Jesus asks the servants to fill up some jars with water. Jesus changes water into wine.
Problem solved: Everyone’s happy.
St John the Evangelist has left some strategically ambiguous openings which allow us to read this wedding as a meditation on our life in Christ.
Notice, first, that Jesus and the disciples are “invited to the wedding”. That’s us – we’re all invited. “Disciple” means “Student”, beginners or advanced, we are all disciples together. If you are here today – even if you’re not yet Catholic – you’re a disciple.
There is another symbol for us: the jars standing empty. We’re called to this feast and we come – beginner or advanced – because recognize that we are empty. There is a God-shaped hole in us craving to be filled.
Any disciple’s first step is turning to God. It’s a step we must take every day as we are all weak. To turn to God is to repent. The scriptures and Church Fathers call us to weep tears of repentance. We can imagine these tears poured out as the water poured into the jars.
John says those jars are for “ceremonial washing”. We can think, also, of Baptism when the Church responds to our repentance with the living water of Baptism.
This is also true each time we are reminded of our Baptism in the confessional. The Byzantine rite refers to confession as the “grace of a second baptism”. Combined with these living waters, our tears become joy.
Did you ever notice that the bridal couple stays off-screen? We never meet them. No name is mentioned and they have no words to say.
Who does St John want us to imagine is getting married here?
Mary says, “They are out of wine”.
Jesus asks, “What has that to do with me?”
Mary commands, Do whatever he tells you…
Two wedding guests seem to act as if they are the family at the wedding: as if Jesus is the groom and somehow responsible for the wedding. If Jesus is getting married, then, who is the bride?
One more thing to notice: the Bible is full of wedding imagery! The Church follows the tradition begun in Ancient Israel (carried in St Paul and the book of Revelation): the intimacy of Matrimony is a sign of how God relates to his people. John, as a storyteller, allows us to see Jesus fulfilling those images.
Look at the reading again and see:
Jesus is God coming to his wedding with his people. We are the disciples called to the feast, no longer as students or penitents but as the bride.
The steward says to the groom, “We’ve had good wine already, but you have saved the best wine for last”.
It is as if the Steward – and through him, the Guests, all of God’s people – are saying that the covenant of the Torah, the first wine, was amazing, and yet suddenly we’ve been given more than we ever dreamed to ask for.
Jesus and his disciples are called to the wedding feast here in this text and, in a few minutes, He will call us to a deeper union with him here at this altar.
This is no mere reception hall – not a feast with Jesus – but a chance to enter into communion with him so deep that we can only compare it to the mystery of marriage.
Our Savior draws us here into the deepest intimacy of the Holy Trinity.
Jesus here gives himself like a groom to his bride in fulfillment of the Covenant.
Hearing this call, this is why we’ve come. If you’re not Catholic yet, you’ve heard it too. Come, see me after Mass!
All is prepared. Come to the wedding feast and change your life into wine.
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