Sunday, January 17, 2010

What a marvel! (Sunday homily)

“What a marvel,”
St. Augustine said of today’s Gospel.
“God came to a wedding!”

When God chose to become a human being,
He made a marriage with Creation,
and with humanity in particular.
At the instant when Jesus was conceived
in the womb of Mary,
from that moment, and forever, without end,
God is united with human flesh and blood.

What a marvel! Let us count the ways.

On one level, we have an ordinary part of life:
a man and woman united in marriage;
But it doesn’t stay on the ordinary level—
Not after Jesus came to the wedding.

The ordinary becomes forever more than ordinary;
Changed, filled with grace.
Water becomes wine; human love becomes divine;
Regular life a place where God is real and present;
Heaven comes to earth, and earth is lifted up.

That’s what our sacraments are:
Ordinary things, which God takes and uses
to give his supernatural life to us.
Water—in baptism—gives the Holy Spirit.

A priest speaks ordinary words—in confession—
and through them, Christ gives total forgiveness.

A couple gives themselves to each other
in their “I do” and in acts of love—
and Christ unites them forever as one flesh.

Another marvel: this Gospel story of a wedding;
it’s a family scene, it’s earthy; it’s giddy;
the wine was flowing, it’s amorous—
you know there were knowing jokes and laughter,
like any wedding; some things never change!

And here is Jesus, he blesses it all!

Our Faith does not push aside the good things of life;
We are not ashamed or embarrassed by these things.
We’re the moderates, if you will, between two extremes.

On one side are those who make the things of this life their ultimate good.
Pleasure or money, health, sports, sex or power.

That way of thinking cannot fathom the value of self-denial;
or else it believes its impossible.
We’re animals, we can’t help ourselves.
The flip side is to see human experience negatively—
and this world as something to escape.

That includes a mindset in which being poor, or old,
or sick or handicapped means your life isn’t worth it;
that mindset gives us “assisted suicide.”

It also includes those who go too far
in respect for Creation,
to the point of making the earth more important than people;
humanity becomes “intruders,” and they believe
the world would be better off with fewer of us.

But notice, Jesus did not say, “you invited too many people”!

God’s wine flows freely;
and when we care for our world and for one another
as God would have us do…
When we use our gifts to unlock this world’s abundance,
we have plenty of room for all his children.

There’s one more marvel: the Mass and the Eucharist.

The miracle of water-turned-to-wine
anticipates the miracle of wine (and bread)
turned into our Lord and God;
and with that, the change our union with Him makes in us.

We become part of God, sharing one life.
Marriage: two become one.

On the cross Jesus said, “it is finished”;
a better translation is, “it is consummated.”
The Cross is where He consummated the marriage with his Church.

This is what the Mass is.

This is why the Mass is the center of our faith.
This is why we come every week—and many come every day;

And it is also why we—as a Church—
so often have discussions
about the right way to celebrate the Mass.

This is the reason we don’t take lightly
the act of receiving the Eucharist;
some believe it is merely a ritual or a “reminder”;
but the reason we call it “communion”
is because it is a real, intimate union with Christ.

Something that special deserves our full attention!
This is one reason for the fast from food for one hour before communion.

And it is why we examine our lives,
to see if we’re ready for that intimacy.
Just as a married couple sometimes needs
moments of reconciliation first—so, too,
sometimes we need the sacrament of reconciliation
before we enter into this act of communion.

This is what Isaiah foretold:
“As a young man marries a virgin,
Your Builder will marry you;
As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride,
So shall your God rejoice in you.”

What a marvel!

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