Sunday, January 20, 2019

God has great power available for you! (Sunday homily)

Click on the image to go to the site where I found this artwork.

On a particular day in Cana, in Galilee, 
there was suddenly a super-abundance of wine. 
In a trice, these families celebrating a wedding, 
went from having none, to a flood; 
and not just any wine, but the best of all vintages.

I’ve often wondered: what did it taste like? Wouldn’t you like to know?

When I meet with a couple preparing for marriage the first time, 
we look at this passage together in some detail.
There is a lot here. We see Jesus revealing himself as our Messiah.
Jesus gives his benediction to the good things of life, 
especially marriage and family life.

But perhaps the singular detail is the quantity of wine.
Approximately 150 gallons. That is 750 bottles!
The point being that Jesus is providing in great abundance.
Extravagant and overflowing.

This is a powerful sign of God’s grace. 
Of what happens when our cooperation with God is complete.
Saints experience this flood of God’s power; this is why the saints, 
even in their earthly lives, were so fruitful in miracles.

To be clear, I’m not giving you some sort of “prosperity” message, 
the way some TV preachers do. 
They claim that if you have the right kind of faith,
God will give you health and wealth.

No, the wealth God gives is, in the end, himself.
What else is there? What better riches can we ask from him?

The point I’m making is that life in this world, as good as it can be – 
and it can be really awesome – 
is only a shadow of the fullness of life 
that we gain in uniting our lives with Jesus Christ! 

How else do you explain that the apostles, 
when they met him and heard him, left everything to follow him?
It was not worldly riches and full bellies they expected.
Eventually he promised them the Cross. 
And they followed him to that end.

That wine – flowing, flooding, everywhere – 
is a sign of God’s power available to us. 
A lot of us only have the spigot barely turned on!

This sign of water to wine, of nothing to cups overflowing,
is also an image of what happens to us, not as individuals, 
but as members of the Body of Christ.

In the second reading, Saint Paul talks about 
an abundance of spiritual gifts – but also, a diversity.
None of us has access to these gifts by ourselves.
It is when you and I are together, as a Body, that it happens.

This is a good time to mention the annual Catholic Ministry Appeal. 
Every year at this time the Archbishop kicks this off.
He sends out a homily which some parishes will play on tape.
I don’t play it, not out of any disrespect to the Archbishop, 
but because I think it isn’t the best way to get his message across.

So let me take some time now to share some of what he has to say.

Just to explain, the Catholic Ministry Appeal is a special fund 
that provides for six vital ministries in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. 
These ministries include: 

Catholic Charities and Catholic Social Services;
Campus, Hospital, and Prison ministries;
Our Seminary and Vocation programs;
St. Rita School for the Deaf;
Retired Archdiocesan Priests; and
New Evangelization Programs. 

Each of these projects is worthwhile. 
Now let me quote Archbishop Schnurr:

You and I 
are to use the ordinary water of our own resources
to pour out joy, healing, and transformation to a world in need.
We need only be like the servants at the wedding feast of Cana,
following Mary’s instructions: “Do whatever he tells you.”

Jesus tells us, as members of his Body, to feed the hungry.
In our Archdiocese, we do as he tells us by putting food on the table
for families endangered by poverty and unemployment.
We feed the spiritual hungers of Catholics
by supporting the formation of priests, deacons, and lay ministers,
and by sending campus ministers to our universities.

Jesus tells us to visit the imprisoned and heal the sick.
[You and I] support pastoral care in our prisons and hospitals,
and healing education for those with communications disabilities.
We also care for the needs of our retired priests.

Jesus tells us to welcome the stranger.
We welcome refugees torn from their homeland
by war and religious persecution.
We assist women with crisis pregnancies,
provide adoption support services to children and their families,
and care for the elderly who are lonely.

The truth is, most of these things are beyond each of us 
to do by ourselves, or even as a parish.

Quoting the Archbishop once more: 
That is why God calls us together, 
into communion with the Lord. Alone, we are just ordinary water. 
In Christ, we are transformed into a wine of hope and resurrection, 
poured out and shared in abundance. 

Well, of course, there’s the key to the Catholic Ministry Appeal. 
Together you and I can do amazing things.
There can and will be a flood of life-giving wine poured out, 
precisely because we act, not alone, but as the Body of Christ.

As usual, mailings will go out with more detailed information, 
and you will be able to review these materials 
and make your own decision.
Maybe you’ve noticed, I don’t give a plug for every fund 
that we’re asked to kick into. 
This is one I give my own money to, every year. 
I think it’s all worthy, all on the up and up.

Back to the Gospel, and that flood of God’s wine, God’s gift, God’s life.
As I said, you and I can see amazing things happen 
if only we turn that spigot on all the way:
Making powerful things happening in each of our own lives,
And in the lives of others around us.

No comments: