Epiphany 2, Year C

By Greg Masztal

Isaiag 62:1-5; Psalm 36:5-10
1 Corinthians 12”1-11; John 2:1-11

 

   It should be no surprise on this 2nd Sunday of Epiphany that our reading finds Jesus beginning to reveal himself, in a mysterious way, to his early disciples, friends, and families.

   I say “in a mysterious way” because the bride and groom, along with the guests at the wedding of Cana, have no idea that something special has happened. It’s only the servants, who have spent a considerable time walking back and forth to the community well, and Jesus’ disciples, who were with him, that witness this extraordinary miracle.

   Imagine how long it took to fill (6) stone jars, each holding 20 to 30 gallons, one or two buckets at a time.

   I was having trouble envisioning just how much wine was involved, so the numbers part of my mind ran the calculations and it turns out that (6) stone jars holding 25 gallons of wine each are the equivalent of 750 bottles of wine!

   Wow! Does Jesus know how to throw a party!! And according to the steward, this was premium wine! Who here wouldn’t love to have a taste of that vintage?

   Years ago I went to a Celebration of Life Event for a long-time labor leader in the Bay Area named Frank Souza. In addition to being a well-known and well-liked labor leader, Frank was also a Portuguese man who enjoyed growing grapes and distilling his own wine from those grapes.

  In his distilling room he had a table set up made from a wine barrel, with chairs positioned around it, and when employees and managers reached a sticking point during negotiations resulting in a strike, Frank, at times, would invite the key leaders of each group over to his house to share some wine around his table. Rare was the dispute that wasn’t resolved in this gathering! “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Mt 5:9)

   At Frank’s Celebration of Life after-party, a small cask of Frank’s wine was put out for anyone to enjoy, and I can personally testify to the deliciousness of his home-made vintage, along with the strength of the spirits! I still remember this to this very day, more than 10 years later, it was so good!

   John the Evangelist tells us that this was Jesus’ first sign: the changing of the water into wine. On its surface, Jesus did this as a kindness for this newly married couple so they wouldn’t suffer the embarrassment of failing to have enough for the wedding feast. Yet no one in the wedding party knew about the miracle! The people who benefited the most from God’s abundance took no note of the gift.

   The only people who were aware of this miracle were the servants who did the work, and the disciples who decided to start following this unusual Rabbi. While the servants and disciples were amazed at what had taken place, there are deeper meanings of the changing of the water into wine.

   The Sign, at its heart, is Jesus taking the vessels of purification rites and changing them into dispensers of God’s unlimited abundance. There was no more excluding people from the party until the proper rites were performed, but instead a distribution of abundance to all, whether you were a follower or not.

   This Sign is also a precursor to our own sharing of the Eucharist meal. As my union brother Frank Souza realized, Jesus knew that conflict and differences can easily melt away between people when they share a common meal together. God’s abounding love has room for everyone at the wedding table, even people like you, and like me, too.

   How easy it is, though, for people to fail to realize the abundance of God’s love. How many people at that wedding party went home failing to realize the miracle of that day? Jesus didn’t send out a town crier, after all, to tell everyone “Jesus made the wine!” did he?

   The recognition of the Sign was left only for those servants who did the work, and those disciples who were focused on Jesus—the Martha’s and Mary’s of that day. You remember the story of Martha and Mary, don’t you? One sat at Jesus’ feet listening to him, while the other worked in the kitchen. Both were disciples, and both were doing the work of the Kingdom.

   In our daily living each of us are called to be both disciples AND servants. As Paul’s letter to the Corinthians says “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

   Each of us has been blessed with different skills to go about our daily living being servants of the Kingdom of God. Ask yourself, “What skill has God given me, and how do I use that skill for the Kingdom?”

   As Paul tells us, no skill is greater or lesser than any other skill. The servants that day in Cana who carried buckets of water back and forth, un-noticed in their labors by nearly everyone, were the primary movers of the Kingdom on that day. How are you using your skill for bringing the Kingdom into the World?

   Tomorrow we celebrate the life and work of one of God’s great servants, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King worked to bring justice to all of God’s people, not just the ones who continue to be oppressed because of the color of their skin, but also to free the oppressors of the chains of their hate.

   Dr. King lived, worshiped, and worked to bring the overabundance of God’s Light and Love into the World, even to those who refused to see it. How inspiring for us as servants of the Kingdom today!

   Like Dr. King, we are ALSO called to be disciples who take the time to listen to what Jesus is saying, and observing his miracles in the world around us. How often each day do you take the time to look at the beautiful miracle of a blooming flower, the growth of a tree, or the playful innocence of a child?

   It is in noticing the miracles of everyday life that makes us more devoted followers of Jesus, and brings us the peace of the Kingdom within our own hearts.

   At this moment in time, as we are about to share Eucharist together, is your mind filled with the work that needs to be done as a servant, or are you focused on listening to Jesus and sharing in this mysterious miracle called the Eucharist?

   As disciples of Jesus we are called to be mindful of the here and now, every day and every minute. May this time of Eucharist bless you with nourishment and peace, and inspire you for the work of the Kingdom in this coming week. Amen.