Homily for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time ©, January 20th, 2019:
This gospel reading is a happy one. It involves a wedding and Jesus’s presence and His Mother’s at it. It involves a happy ending to a problem. Jesus solves that problem by performing His very first miracle in public. He did it because His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, asked Him to. There are numerous directions one can go to discuss this gospel passage. But the obvious one is to discuss the Eucharistic image of this first public miracle of Jesus Christ. That Eucharistic image appears when Jesus changes water into wine. Jesus makes this change. Jesus rescues a bride and groom from peril. Their peril is the humiliating embarrassment of failing at hospitality. That is the immediate scene.
But St. John shows a bigger picture here. It is the sign of Jesus Christ, God’s Own Son, beginning a messianic age. It is the age of Himself and His salvation. Jesus changes the water used for Old Testament ceremonial washings into wine of the highest quality. This is the good stuff. Notice how big the stone jars are. There is a plentiful amount of this high-class wine, enough to serve everyone. Jesus changes the water into the wine. The old has passed into the new. Jesus’s first public miracle begins the new era of the Messiah, who has come in the identity of Jesus Christ, Savior. That is important for us today.
The second sign St. John shows in this gospel reading is the glory of God’s presence appearing to us. At the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee, God’s presence is manifested in His Own Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus reveals God the Father’s presence, His love, His forgiveness, and His mercy for us, in His very self.
The third sign St. John shows is Jesus changing one substance completely into another, water to wine. It is a precursor of the great exchange. It is a scene of Jesus changing unleavened bread into His own Body and wine into His own Blood for us to consume for our eternal life. And the wedding feast is a precursor of the messianic banquet of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Those come together here. They come together in the Eucharistic theology that this Church expresses her faith in. When we enter the beautiful sacrament of confession to seek Jesus’s forgiveness of our sins, we are drawn here, to this messianic banquet of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is here that we receive Jesus Christ in the beautiful sacrament of Jesus’s Body and Jesus’s Blood, which gives us eternal life. He restores eternal life to us. Notice what He does for us. Jesus rescues us from danger and peril. Jesus rescues us from the death of sin. He does this. No one else does. Only Jesus saves. He saves us through His Own Body and Blood, shed on the Cross and now re-presented in reality and truth on the altar. We obey Jesus’s command to do this in remembrance of Him (Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:18). To do this in remembrance of Him means to remember all the way to the reality of Jesus’s once and for all sacrifice, the reality of His sacrifice as it affects us here today. If we don’t remember it to the reality of it, re-presented for us here today, then it becomes just a historical event on a page, nothing more. This makes His saving sacrifice real for us here today. He saves us. He also changes us. In Isaiah’s first reading, the prophet says he will continue to repeat the Lord’s prophecy of a restored Zion, until the Lord fulfills it and the people who will return from the Babylonian exile will believe it on faith. God wants the returned exiles to rebuild Jerusalem, to plant grain, to live again in the Promised Land. Isaiah will repeat this prophecy so that the returned exiles will be reinvigorated to rebuild. More importantly, they are being encouraged to rebuild their covenantal relationship with God who loves them. We do the same in conversion, confession, Holy Mass, Eucharist. We seek to rebuild our love for our Savior Jesus Christ, who rescues us from danger and peril. Isaiah describes the glory of the new Zion. Zion’s glory will be given a new name. Zion will be a beautiful crown in God’s hand. It will not be desolate or forsaken anymore. Isaiah prophesies that Zion will be called “Espoused” and “My delight in her.” These titles describe Zion’s changed state. That is a perfect mystic description of what happens to the Zion of our souls when Jesus comes to us in the beautiful sacraments of Confession and Eucharist and in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, celebrated by Jesus Christ, in the miraculous change of the elements into Himself. Jesus forecasts this accurately at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee.
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