16 January 2022 at Saint William & Saint Elizabeth Seton Catholic Churches in Naples, FL
Isaiah 62, 1-5 + Psalm 96 + 1 Corinthians 12, 4-11 + John 2, 1-11
As I have said over and over again when we proclaim these words of Jesus, we must ask, “What does this mean?” not “How did he do that?” At the same time, we must remember that in John’s Gospel there are no “miracles”. That word is never used. There are “signs”, and this is the first of seven. Remembering that helps in asking the right question, “What does this mean?” In John’s Gospel, these signs, like road signs, point to something. In this case, the signs point to Jesus, and they suggest that there is more here than meets the eye.
In our own reflections, this event may have had several different motives: respect for his mother’s request, kindness to host, care for people, approval of a happy occasion, or even some suggestion of a Eucharistic preview. These are all worth some reflection, but what happened because of this event is probably the most important thing in John’s mind and comes clear in the last verse: “The Disciples began to believe in him.” The bringing of people to faith may well be more important and more significant that changing water into wine. After all, we might ask ourselves, what’s more important, Faith or Wine?
Wine is often an important part of any great celebration. They didn’t drink water. It was not clean in those days. Water was for washing. That is why those jars were there. So, when the wine runs out, the joy is over, and for those hosting the party, it’s a shameful embarrassment. In some ways, that’s the way it is with life these days, there is not a lot of joy, and given the conditions in most of this world, there is not much to celebrate. Wine won’t change that, but Faith will. I like to imagine that Mary and her son were in a rather respectful argument. When he calls her “woman”, the term he uses is the term often used to describe Israel, God’s own bride. John uses that term in this incident to describe God’s people who have run out of joy. In the argument with his mother, he says it’s not time, and she says it is time simply telling the servants to do what he tells them.
So often, we are slow in responding to the needs of others with the excuses that we don’t have time, or that it’s just not the right time. We put off making changes that might be important or make a difference in this life waiting for the right time; and when it comes to conversion, to changing our lives, or our priorities, that time never seems to arrive.
As we step into this new year, we might let this Gospel and Mary urge us to believe that the hour has come. It might well be the hour when we come to believe that it is time to speak up, shape up, and maybe act up for the sake of people who live without joy or peace or hope. It might well be time to listen the Gospel, look at Christ, and do whatever he tells you. When that time comes, and we can decide when it is, all will know the joy that God intends for all God’s people.