24 January, 2013

Homily for Third Sunday after Epiphany (C) 2013


Reading John 2:1-11 The Wedding of Cana

His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ (John 2:5)

Last Sunday the lectionary presented us with the reading about the Baptism of Jesus from St Luke’s gospel. This week we are introduced to the probably very familiar story of the wedding-feast of Cana found only in St John’s gospel. This abrupt change of scenery – from Luke to John; from penitence on the banks of the river Jordan to the rowdy atmosphere of a wedding – is an intended feature of this liturgical period to show us the beginning of Christ ministry under different lights.
Last Sunday I explained how the gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke – the synoptic gospels – place Jesus’ Baptism at the beginning of his public activity; whilst St John seems to have other plans in narrating his story. For the fourth gospel the story of the wedding of Cana marks the first manifestation of Jesus as the Word of God made flesh.
In a similar way to last Sunday we could compare the passages of the Baptism and of the wedding-feast; we could examine the different features that each story highlights about Jesus. Alternatively, we could spend some time considering the seemingly harsh response of Jesus to his mother; or we could draw a parallel between the waters turned into wine by Jesus and the waters turned into blood by Moses is the book of Exodus (Cf. Exodus 7:19). However, I would rather set the wedding of Cana in the context of our liturgy and focus our attention on the initial part of the story.

The preface of the Eucharistic prayer for this Sunday affirms that,
In the water made wine
the new creation was revealed at the wedding feast.
Poverty was turned to riches, sorrow into joy.
 This is the greater significance of the miracle we have read of this morning. Through the performing of this sign, Jesus reveals his glory not as a wonderworker, but as the author of a new creation. Jesus establishes the new creation through the simple sign turning water used for ritual washing into wine as symbol of celebration and joyfulness. More importantly, Jesus seems to establish the new creation with the help of others; with the helping hand of those servants who prepare the way for the miracle.


When I started the selection process for Ordination I had to meet with a Diocesan Director of Ordinands. A DDO is someone who has a deep awareness of the needs of the Church for men and women committed to faithfully playing their part in God’s mission in the world. On one hand the Directors of Ordinands see the needs of the Church whilst remaining mindful of the society’s hunger for the good news of the gospel. On the other hand, they are confronted with the truly challenging task of discerning the vocations of those who put themselves forward in the service of Christ and of his Church. With these two tasks in mind, they are to encourage the candidates in suitable ways – sometimes pushing them to the limit, or in my case to the limit of my patience. They are to help them understand God’s call for their lives. They are to prompt them to respond generously, whatever that call may be.

Can you see a link between the figure of the Directors of Ordinands and a person featured in today’s gospel? Observe the dynamic.

The Mother of Jesus is the one who is aware of the needs of those attending the wedding-feast. She is there before the arrival of Jesus and seems to have already engaged with the servants. Mary prompts Jesus, but perhaps even more significantly she is the one who prompts the servants to acts in accordance with what Jesus will order them to do. Mary doesn’t take “No” for an answer – even though we are not really sure that Jesus’ answer is “No” – rather, she gathers the servants and says, ‘Here is the man who will sort out this situation, do what he asks you to do’.

His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ (John 2:5)


Indeed, the Blessed Virgin Mary is introduced here as the first and as the prototype of Directors of Ordinands. And what is the task to which the mother of Jesus directs the servants? None other than cooperating with Christ in revealing a new creation and transforming the world we live in by opening the way for a miracle.

At the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, like every day since – including today – people are invited to participate to the mission of God, to join into the building of the new creation where poverty is turned to riches, sorrow in to joy – as our prayer says. 
At the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, like every day since – including today – Mary the Mother of Jesus says to us, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’

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