Sometimes we are so familiar with Bible passages that when we hear or read them again we can be unaffected. Not quite a case of familiarity breeding contempt, more being so familiar with a particular text that we do not allow the beauty or the power of the message to touch us properly.
There is so much in today’s Scripture reading that we need to be really careful not to miss the message. In his Gospel, St John tells us about the first of the signs given by Jesus. It appears from the text that Jesus was a little bit reluctant initially to give this first sign. This is not the case. Jesus was always going to give this first sign at the wedding in Cana; Jesus knew what His Mission was and nothing happened by chance.
When Mary said to Jesus, ‘they have no wine’ we see here the first intervention or what we would now call, intercession on others’ behalf. This has given us all this gift. We ask Our Lady to intercede on our behalf. Her role is to bring us closer to her Son and requires us to do what he tells us to do’. The crucial part for us here are the words spoken by Our Lady, when she told the servants “Do whatever He tells you”. This is a message for us too, as followers of Jesus we are called to do whatever He tells us; the key message being to love God and love our neighbour.
Next notice how Jesus helped the newlyweds; they were heading for great shame and embarrassment if the wine for the feast ran out too soon. Their names would be mentioned throughout the region; as the couple who failed to provide sufficiently at their wedding; but we do not know their names, because Jesus spared their blushes. If we go by the minimum quantity for the jars, Jesus changed at least 120 gallons of water into wine, that must have been some party. This demonstrates the abundance of love and grace which Jesus bestows upon those who are his friends.
We are also told that the wine provided by Jesus was the best wine, indicating the gifts supplied by Jesus will always be better than what we already have. Jesus allowed his glory to be seen and his disciples believed in him. This was a key element of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, by allowing his glory to be seen the newly adopted disciples believed in him and were more likely to follow him; not because he provided an abundance of wine, but because the sign he gave could only be given by someone with immense power; someone close to God or as we now profess someone who is God.
Traditionally at weddings people provide gifts for the newlyweds as they give themselves completely to one another. In the passage we hear from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians we hear about the gifts of the Spirit and how varied they can be. Gifts given by the Holy Spirit need to be used to glorify God, they are never to be kept for oneself. The Catechism tells us that “charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.” (CCC 2003). As St Paul says, the Holy Spirit “distributes different gifts to different people just as he chooses” (1Cor 12:11). We cannot choose which gifts we are given by the Spirit, but we are compelled to use these gifts to build up the Church.
This weekend the Church in England and Wales, are asked to pray for Peace in our world. Peace starts in our homes. We have recently had feasts which have focussed on the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, they are a model for all families, and our Baptism joins us as their extended family. Regardless of where we were born or where our parents were born, we are all part of the same family, a family made in the image and likeness of God. This includes those with the same Faith as us, those of other Faiths or traditions and those with no Faith.
The Church calls for us to pray for peace in the world. Pope Francis is asking us to focus on education, what can we learn from the different generations around us about peace? Every generation’s experience is different. The Pandemic has demonstrated that we really need to look out for each other; unless everyone is protected then no-one is fully protected. In a sense it is the same with peace, unless everyone can live in peace then the peace for everyone is at risk. We all share a small planet; what happens in one part can significantly affect every other part.
So, I will finish by asking, are you at peace today? If not, what is disturbing your peace? What do you need to do to restore peace in your heart and in your life?
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)1
CCC 528: at Cana, Christ shows himself to be Messiah, Son of God, Saviour
CCC 796: the Church as Bride of Christ
CCC 1612-1617: marriage in the Lord
CCC 2618: Mary’s intercession at Cana
CCC 799-801, 951, 2003: charisms at the service of the Church
Please keep in your prayers
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- The Year of the Eucharist, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
- The listening stage of the 16th Synod of Bishops which is entitled “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission” that all Catholics will take part.
- All those working for peace in our communities.
- For Edward who is being baptised at St Bede’s on Saturday 15th January.
- The parents and godparents attending the Baptism Preparation Course on Sunday.
- Those preparing for and attending the Big Picture sessions on Mondays.