January 20, 2019

At the end of our Gospel reading from John, in which we hear about Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding at Cana, the evangelist writes: “Jesus did this at the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.” It is commonly understood that Jesus’ glory was revealed in the use of His power to change water into wine. But I wonder whether His glory was also revealed in the meeting of the needs of a couple at a wedding banquet. In other words, Jesus’ glory was shown in His service of others as well as His working of a miracle.

This perspective has something, I think, to tell us about how God’s glory might be revealed in us. Instead of getting caught up in trying to prove that we are better than they are (whoever “they” may be), it might be better to reflect on the notion that God’s glory and presence is more clearly revealed in our service of others. When we look at the people involved in our Gospel account, we get some good ideas about service.

In the Gospel account, Mary is the one who notices that the wedding feast is running out of wine. Part of our service of others is to be aware of their needs. Sometimes it also involves pointing things out. There are times when we’re called to be prophets, calling attention to injustice and the fact that too many people are lacking the necessities of life or that the environment is being threatened in various ways.

After Jesus answers Mary’s statement about the wine running out with a question about how did that have anything to do with Him, Mary says to the servants waiting there to “Do whatever he tells you.” And so Jesus tells the servants to fill the jars meant for ceremonial washings with water. John tells us that the servants filled them “to the brim.” As we strive to discern God’s will, we are to do our utmost to serve God and God’s people. As St. Paul writes in our second reading from 1 Corinthians: “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.”

Ultimately, whatever we do, we give ourselves over to God. After Mary tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them, she leaves the scene. She doesn’t stick around to tell Jesus how to handle it. She simply trusts that Jesus will handle it. In the same way, we don’t tell God how we should serve, but we put ourselves at God’s disposal, and trust in His will for us.

John tells us that Jesus’ transformation of the water into wine was the “beginning of his signs.” May we open our hearts to transformation and be a continuation of “his signs,” indicating God’s great love for the world in Him.

In Christ,

Fr. Phil, CP