Sunday, January 20, 2013

'God came to a wedding: what a marvel!' (Sunday homily)

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

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 those words, Christ gives total forgiveness. 

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; and Jesus 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 believes its impossible. 

The flip side is to see this world as something to escape, 
and to downgrade what’s good for humans, 
and instead go too far in respecting Creation--
and see human beings as “The Enemy.” 

Notice Jesus never said, “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. 

Last Sunday was a time to talk about the vocation to the priesthood or the religious life. 
Today is a good time to talk about the vocation of marriage. 
And Christ turning water into wine--
and later he would turn wine into his blood--
is a good setting to talk about both. 

When I meet with couples preparing for marriage, I always read this Gospel with them. 
And I always ask them this question: who was the wine for? 
Hint: it wasn’t for the couple. It’s for everyone else. 

The wine is a symbol of the grace God gives us to live our calling. 
A fearful response says, don’t invite too many people! 
Don’t take chances! Play it safe! 

If I’d taken that approach, I’d never have become a priest. 
For that matter, my parents would never have had seven children. I’m number seven. 
Their choice of generosity was necessary for me even to exist. 
Just as our Lord’s choice to give himself totally on the Cross 
was necessary for our hope of heaven to exist. 

God came to a wedding. God made a marriage with mankind. What a marvel!

1 comment:

umblepie said...

Thanks for this post Father, and for all your other excellent posts.