Homily 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2007

The news that the war in Iraq and elsewhere will not end any time soon made me feel that instead of a homily we should spend the time in silent prayer for a transformation of all those places and people who suffer or inflict violence. But, "For Zion's sake I will not keep silent", the prophet Isaiah said in our first reading. We still need to pray. But we also must be attentive to the signs that Jesus gives.

Spirituality does not lend itself to neat and concise definitions and rules of doing things. That is why there are so many different spiritual traditions and ways of praying. The Spirit blows where it wills. So also the Gospels of Jesus are replete with parables and signs. So much of what Jesus says in parables are like riddles that provoke us to go deeper in our relationship with God and others. They try to shake us out of our accustomed way of seeing things.

In John's Gospel there are what John calls Jesus' "signs". The miracle of water into wine at the wedding in Cana, John tells us, was the first of these signs. There are several others that you might search for in John as you read his Gospel. They are signs or clues to finding the answer to our questions about who Jesus is and what is he about? What does he mean for us? But the signs don't tell the whole story. They point the way to the whole story. In John we follow the signs and they lead us eventually to the Cross. Jesus reply to his mother was that "his hour had not yet come". That "hour" would be when he is lifted on the cross. That event will tell the whole story revealing Jesus' glory as Son of God whose words are truth. The glory that is the love between Father and Son for the world. Heaven and earth meet in Jesus and above all on the cross.

At the wedding the water being changed in to wine points to the transformation God wills for the world. As God breathed over the waters in Genesis (1:1, 2) bringing forth light and life. So the abundance of wine coming from the transformed water is a clue that Jesus wants us to have "life and life to the full" (John 10:10) as he says later on. Wedding feasts and banquets were often used as an image of life when the Messiah comes as we heard in the first reading today (cf Isaiah 62:4, Psalm 36:8).

That fullness of life we all seek. However, we often find ourselves repeating the same old mistakes over and over again. Our world does not seem to change nor do we. War is always on the horizon. Is salvation a futile quest?

Mary's comment that the wedding hosts had no more wine left was probably stating the obvious. This was no wealthy persons wedding. They must have had just enough wine for the meal not an extended celebration. These people were probably typical of the people amongst whom Jesus would go on to preach to. They were the poor and the oppressed, the weak and the vulnerable. Mary speaks up for all such people in our world. "They have no wine". She could also have said perhaps, "They have no job, they have no home, they have no money, or they have no one to love them."

When Jesus is around things are different. By his presence the wedding feast was changed. On the other hand the revelation of God is not something we can control. His hour had not come at Cana he told his mother. The Kingdom is God's gift we cannot demand it. Yet he could give a sign leading us to it. The 600 litres of wine at Cana is pure gift. Nothing is what it appears. Even Jesus' death was not the end that it seemed. The abundance of wine Jesus gives is a promise that God is offering salvation to all.

So if we look at our world and see it only through the eyes of news commentators we might easily forget that it is a sacramental world, to use Catholic terminology. God's Spirit is about dispensing an abundance of gifts as St Paul reminds us in the second reading today (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). Our world is not a lost cause. No lives are a waste no matter how short or how long we live. Nor how peaceful or how painful is our death. It is for this that Jesus comes.

It is a question of faith that our transformation will only happen when we respond also to Mary's words, "Do whatever he tells you." Jesus has the words of everlasting life. May that be our response as we come to the table of the Eucharist today.

Fr Graham