Sunday, 17 January 2010

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, Shaftesbury

Jn 2:1-12; Isa 62:1-5
This Christmas I'm sure that a great many of you were given things that you didn't really want. For example, across our entire country I wonder how many men opened the wrapping to find inside a tie that they could never picture themselves wearing. For myself, this Christmas I was giving a pair of "welly warmers” -big loose fleece liners to go inside my Wellington boots. On Christmas day this seemed to be the most useless and unwanted present I had received some time. However, a week and a half ago we had the first of a series of snow falls, I have worn my wellies more this last week than during the entire previous year, and my “welly warmers” have been manifested to be the surprise most useful Christmas gift of 2009!

Sometimes things are revealed to be much more than we first thought them to be. “Welly warmers” might be a supremely trivial example, but I start with that example as an illustration of how Jesus was manifested to be much more than He was thought to be when He worked His miracle at the wedding feast at Cana.

One of the things that we need to recall in considering how Jesus was revealed, manifested at His first miracle, is the simple fact that His followers didn't really know Him yet. They knew that this was the man that John the Baptist said he was preparing the way for, this was the man about whom John the Baptist said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world"(Jn 1:29). They knew enough that Andrew said to his brother Peter, "We have found the Messiah" (Jn 1:41). They knew enough that they were following, that they had responded to His call, “Follow me”(Jn 1:43). And, given that Galilee was a small place and Nazareth and Capernaum small towns, it is conceivable that they would have heard of the events surrounding His birth: the choirs of angels appearing to shepherds, the star in the sky, and the Gentile wise men coming from the east.

There were at least two more things that were revealed to them, and are revealed to us, by His first miracle at Cana. The first, more symbolically, is the significance of the wedding feast is the context for the miracle. When you heard our first reading, from the prophet Isaiah, you might have thought it was unrelated to this: it was a description in the Old Testament of the love that God had for His Chosen People, a love such that He called Himself the ‘bridegroom’ and His people the ‘bride’ –“no longer are you to be named ‘Forsaken’... but you shall be called ‘My Delight’ and your land ‘The Wedded’”(Isa 62:4). When Jesus came as the long awaited Messiah He came as the loving bridegroom coming to save His bride. The fact that He worked His first miracle in the context of a wedding feast is taken to be one of the ways that He claimed to be the Messiah. And for us today, we know that the love that the Bridegroom, the Messiah, the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world", was ultimately manifested on the cross. And the role of the Messiah as a LOVING Bridegroom is one of the things manifested at Cana.

The second thing revealed at Cana was both simple and important: the Messiah was to be a miracle-worker. We ourselves are probably so familiar with Jesus that we forget the significance of His working miracles. At one level is miracles were significant in proving His claim to be the Messiah and His claim to be God. But at a deeper level His miracles also show us HOW the loving Bridegroom cares for His Bride:

The loving Bridegroom cared for His Bride by healing her many wounds: He healed the sick, He raised the dead, He forgave sin. But the loving Bridegroom also cared for His Bride by satisfying her needs: He fed the 5000 when they were hungry in the wilderness, and, as we recall today, He even provided them with wine when they didn't have enough. And this is a sign of how the Lord provides for US in our needs, TODAY.

As I have said in previous weeks, today’s gospel is the conclusion of a three-week epiphany: His manifestation to the wise men from the east as the King for the Gentiles and not just the Jews; His manifestation at His baptism in the Jordan as the “Son” of the Father; and today, His manifestation as the loving Bridegroom who CARES for His Bride –His Bride being us, being the People who choose to follow Him; His manifestation as the miracle-worker who has the power to give us what we need.

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