2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time C

Did you sense the tension at the beginning of the Gospel? Mary tells Jesus, “They have no wine.”  Jesus wants to know what this could possibly have to do with him.   I have seen that look.  Once I entered seminary and there was a problem in our family, Mom would ask me what I intended to do about it and I would say why me?  Why can’t I be like any of my other cousins?  She suggested that I have had some special training and now I could help.

As so often happens with mothers and eldest sons, she presumes that Jesus will do exactly what she said and sure enough he does.  They pour water into six stone water jars and Jesus blesses them and they become wine.  But I get why Jesus did not want this to be his first sign of his glory.  Is this really the most befitting miracle?  Would this convince people that he was the savior?  Sure changing water into wine will you get elected president of the fraternity, but is it proof of divinity?

I think we have a clue though in the quality of the wine.  The headwaiter praises the bridegroom saying that most people serve their best wine first after others have drunk freely (wink, wink, nod, nod) and later when they don’t care what it tastes like, they serve as an inferior one.  But this new wine is the best.  Of course, it is for that is the kind of life this wine represents.

Think about changing water into wine.  Water is great as a symbol, don’t get me wrong.  I baptize with it all the time.  But what does water represent? It is necessary for living, it is good for cleansing and hygiene, and it is an oasis in the desert – the very promise of life.  But it is not everything.

In a few weeks, I will be giving up my beloved iced tea and going exclusively to water.  I am not excited about this.  What do we know about water?  It is odorless, colorless and tasteless.  Blah… Wine is what brings flavor into our lives.  It brings color and passion and heat.  The wine of life is simply God’s mercy that presses us together, makes us need each other and makes us love another.  Later on in John’s Gospel, we will hear the Lord say that he came that we “might have life [water] and have it more abundantly [wine].”  The wine of life is where God’s mercy intersects with our day to day.  The wine of life is what truly matters.  It is where we fall in love, where we are heartbroken, where we comfort one another and where we thrill to friendship.  It is all the time we know the deep healing of God’s mercy.  You could say the purpose of redemption was to turn our water life into sweet, fresh wine.

So let us raise a cup of wine for celebration and consolation.  Let us raise it in in discovering our hopes and dreams.  Let us raise it for lovers and best friends.  Let us raise the wine of life for how God’s gift of mercy follows us in all the beautiful and critical moments of my life.

What has wine been in my life recently?  It is being bum rushed up to my knees when I walk into the first grade classroom.  It is hanging with the college kids back on break. It is holding hands around a bed as a beloved father and grandfather lies on the precipice of death.  It is where God’s love is palpable and God’s presence in undeniable.  For all the times we recognize it and for all the times we don’t.  For all the times we have given ourselves too much credit or saddled ourselves with an avalanche of guilt, we can always remember that Jesus is the true wine of peace, the cup of compassion, the mercy of God.

Let me share the most merciful thing of this or any other week.  It will happen again in only a few minutes.  I took a cup filled with wine and I offered it, saying, “TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT: FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.” All our happiness and troubles, our joys and anxieties poured into a cup so that they might become Christ’s blood, his life mixed with ours and now returned to us as holy.  So let us raise this cup of life and cherish the chalice of salvation.  May our lives be stained thoroughly by the wine of life.  Let us raise our cups to the true wine of life. The source of all mercy – to Jesus our Lord.

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