“Do whatever he tells you.”

17th January 2010
1 Corinthians 12:4-11 John 2: 1-11
Deacon Tony

“This was the first of the signs given by Jesus: it was given at Cana in Galilee. He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him.”

The wedding feast of Cana out of today’s Gospel reading is a manifestation of God’s glory and it continues the theme of Christ’s Epiphany and Baptism; of Jesus inaugurating His divine mission on earth.

 This past week we began the liturgical season called Ordinary Time for Cycle C; and this year is, of course, the year of Luke’s Gospel; but we begin with the story of the first miracle which is only recorded in the Gospel of John.

A beautiful story that we know so well even though, apart from wedding ceremonies, we only hear it once every three years.                                                                                                   

And if we give credit to the people who put together the lectionary, then there must be a good reason for giving us John’s story of the Wedding Feast at Cana to start the year.              

It was at Cana that Jesus’ glory was revealed for the third time. The first time was by the wise men. The second was at His Baptism by John in the Jordan, and now the third at Cana; the changing of water into wine is rightly regarded as an Epiphany in which Christ is made manifest to his followers.

However, there is one big difference. In the first two Epiphanies, the Lord’s glory is revealed by others. In Bethlehem it was the Magi. At the Jordan River his glory is revealed by the voice of The Father and the presence of The Holy Spirit as a dove. At Cana though, Jesus reveals His glory himself. It is the beginning of a life of revelation, the revelation that the “Word has been made flesh and now dwells among us.”

Jesus continues to reveal himself to us today, sometimes in monumental, awesome ways; sometimes in the quiet events of our ordinary daily lives.

It is always easier to remember at Christmas or Lent or Easter that God is present with us each and every day. We also think of him as being amongst us at baptisms, funerals and weddings; but it is during the ordinary liturgical time and while we are locked into our ordinary everyday tasks of life that we might be less apt to see Him. Probably it’s because we are not looking; and have other things on our mind.

More than likely though we just carry on with our Christian faith that makes no demands on us, it’s business as usual, a faith that is safe and uncomplicated.

It is safe when we just turn to God and ask; what are you going to do for me? It is a far greater challenge to see ourselves as committed to God, so that each day we ask ourselves what can God expect from me; how can I live for God?

There is that saying;

When you keep things safe, sure, you will probably never fail. But when you keep things safe, you will never be able to soar to new heights.

Are we prepared to experience the faith of Jesus that calls us to new choices and new ways that might be uncomfortable at times, but will help us soar to new heights as we begin this long awaited year of 2010? Whatever we are returning to; school, varsity, office, home and service routines!

During the next 41/2 weeks of ordinary time leading to Lent (only a month away!) and also well into Lent; Luke’s Gospel challenges us to stop and reflect; showing us Jesus’ glory, God’s magnificent love shining through the ordinary—in the joyful and the painful, the celebratory and disappointing moments we experience following him on the road to Jerusalem.

The story of the wedding at Cana has been carefully structured by John; almost every phrase is layered with different levels of meaning and the text gives much material for meditation and discussion; the story is about much more than a miracle at a wedding feast.

Amongst others it is also about discipleship.

John’s Gospel does not record the birth of Christ; and so Mary’s first appearance in his Gospel is not in the stable, but at a wedding, where her function is to complete the call of the disciples. She is the catalyst for the sign that leads to the disciples’ expression of faith that John records; “And they believed in Him.’

Mary is the first disciple and speaks the words of a true disciple who believes when she says; “Do whatever he tells you.”

And what He tells us to do is more than filling stone jars with water.

John emphasizes  that the stone jars were empty and needed to be first filled with water before they could be useful to Jesus and ultimately turned into wine.

We are those jars and we have to be filled before we can be useful to Jesus. The problem is that we may need to be emptied before God can affect any change in us. Many of us may be filled with things at the moment that do not allow for the movement and power of God in our lives. Through prayer, love and reconciliation we can empty ourselves of the stagnant water; allowing God to pour himself into us; bringing us to fermentation!

The image of water being turned into wine reminds us of the possibility of transformation in our lives. We need to want to be made into something new and beautiful and we need the power and love of God to help achieve this.

Whilst remaining in the safe mode though; it is easy to fill our lives with things that do not demand too much of us, but we are challenged to fill our lives with forgiveness, with tolerance, with understanding and patience, with service, peace and love.

We can ask ourselves: where is the wine lacking in my life? The lack of purpose–joy–community–forgiveness–compassion, etc.

Prompted by Mary’s confidence and intercession we place our need before the Lord;

 “I lack…….” We can all fill in the blanks ourselves.

Then we listen prayerfully to his response.

What new opportunities show themselves to me? What untapped and unused gifts do I become aware of? What need do I notice that calls for a response from me? We listen and then follow Mary’s directive, “Do whatever he tells you.”

We are able to respond to what we hear because God has named us “Disciples of Jesus;” a community empowered by the Spirit to live our calling; whatever it may be; using the gifts of the Holy Spirit just as Paul suggests; signs that God lives in our midst and continues to turn water into wine; ordinary lives into rich drinks of God’s love for us.

We need to reflect on the challenge during the weeks ahead and ask ourselves; “What gift has God given me? How do I use that gift to serve others?” Or, to put it in terms that John might use, “How am I a sign of God’s active presence in the community? What is there about my words and actions that point people in God’s direction and help quench their thirst?”

“Am I becoming the person Jesus wants me to be? Am I speaking to God about this? Consulting and involving Him in striving to be this person? Or is mine the safe and easy way, the choice that demands nothing of me? It is about realizing that the words of Holy Scripture are not simply to be read; they are a challenge addressed to all of us that will help us recognize what we need to be emptied of in order to be completely filled to the brim with the love of God.

I quote Elizabeth-Anne Vanek. Come, Lord, pour your life into me. Let this dull water ferment and sparkle with your effervescence.


One response to ““Do whatever he tells you.”

  1. Thank you for a lovely sermon on Sunday. It really “spoke” to me. I have just re-read it and gotten a lot more out of it…I missed some things on Sunday.

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