My friends, it is good to be back! Good to go and good to return and as we always say to one another, good to have a home to return to as that is not the case for many of our sisters and brothers in this world, even in our own country.
We have returned to the Season of Ordinary Time in our Church Year with the commemorating of Jesus’ baptism last weekend. As a homilist, Sr. Mary McGlone, from the National Catholic Reporter, whose reflection I read for today’s gospel on the wedding feast at Cana said well, [The problem] “is not wine, but passivity.” We might say that “passivity” is always the danger that we have to be conscious of in our lives as Jesus’ followers; but more on that later.
Our time away took us to the Mexican island of Cozumel, which means, “Island of the Swallows.” We were able to visit several Mayan ruins while there and at one particular site the emphasis was placed on the fact that their culture was about three key ideas: family, birth and love. Equal emphasis and more was placed upon the fact that their culture did not practice human sacrifice, even though on the mainland, they did. This particular Mayan culture was all about birth and love with the family gathered round.
The goddess that they worshipped was pictured as an old, wise woman, looking almost more masculine than feminine, with the emphasis being on strength. In all the temples where she was worshipped, the doorways were purposefully kept low so as to keep the people in the proper position with regard to her.
The Mayan peoples’ emphasis on family, birth and love is a good jumping-off place it would seem in looking at the dynamics going on in today’s readings. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that as a couple in love rejoice in each other, so our God rejoices in us. When we think of our ability as humans, at our best to love and care for each other; we should not be surprised that our God would love us in the same way and so much more. A bit different focus it seems from the Mayan notion of keeping low to the ground in regard to their goddess.
The story of the wedding feast at Cana is not so much about the marriage of the particular couple on that particular day, Mary McGlone tells us, but about “the extravagance of our God.” We see that God, through Jesus produces not only enough wine, but much more than enough wine!—150 gallons would go a long way to keep the new couple from being embarrassed for lack of wine.
But as the NCR homilist goes on to say, this story really isn’t about the wine—as we see with so many stories, parables where Jesus is concerned; it is the deeper message that he wants us to get.
Mary McGlone said we know this story isn’t just about a particular couple that Jesus helps out of their predicament of “lack of wine” by performing a miracle that establishes who he really is in the presence of those gathered at Cana because the story is really lacking in details about this couple. We know no names, nothing about the ceremony—the only one really mentioned is the groom who is eventually congratulated for keeping the best wine till the end.
No, we are to see more in this simple story McGlone says. Because we always know that the particulars of Jesus’ stories have deeper meanings; she suggests that the six empty stone jars represent the old ways, old rules that the people prescribe to because it has always been done that way—so long in fact, that the people no longer know why they do what they do. Probably some truth in that in our religious practices today.
Mary, Jesus’ mother represents the Mother of Israel, who like all good mothers is always looking out for “her children.” Her instruction to the servants lets us know that, Mary McGlone says, in the words, “Do whatever he tells you!”
Friends, we are called to the same today as the Israelites of old—we are called out of our passivity as we might think we can be during, “Ordinary Time” to be people of passion, expressed in the good wine, the best we have to offer—to extravagance in our loving and caring, like our God, who loves us all, unconditionally, and over-the-top! Like the Mayan people who are most concerned that visitors know them to be people of new life, love—surrounded by family.
Being Jesus’ followers won’t allow us to be less than this good! It is interesting and sad to know that 83% of our elected officials in Congress in Washington claim to be Christian, yet so few seem able to follow Jesus’ lead, to lead themselves, to work for and stand up for what is best in all of us, for all of us!
This isn’t always easy to do that is true—even our brother Jesus, in his humanity responded to his mother’s request that he step up, with, “What does this have to do with me?” She seems to believe in him more than he does in himself at this point. She knows what he is capable of and therefore instructs the servants, “to do whatever he says!” Mary McGlone suggests that because Jesus is present, his time is now!
Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians and to us says that God is working through the Spirit in all the gifts bestowed within each of us, in all the ministries we partake in to produce that “very best wine.” We are here now, my friends, our time is upon us! Amen? Amen!