It is a funny feeling today. We come into the Church that is still lively, but strangely different. The crib is back in storage, the wise men have returned to the east, the shepherds to their flocks, the angels have stopped singing, and the star has disappeared. Christmas is a memory.
We are now in what the church ironically calls ordinary time, back to the old routine
We can cast a long, longing look ahead to Easter, to spring break, to Valentine’s Day, or even to thank God it’s Friday, but that all makes Christmas sound like an end. And it is not an end, but a beginning.
Christmas was a high point, but not the highest. Christmas changed our world, but only if you let it be changed. No Christian can live on Christmas alone. Jesus is no longer an infant, He did not stay in Bethlehem and make the crib His condo for life. He moved out, and spent 30 years where you and I would never dream of looking for Him in a small town about which His disciples would ask, can any good come out of Nazareth?
He gave no more than three years publicly to the people He had been born to save. Even then, He began His ministry not with angels, thunder or power. He began by turning water into wine. A small miracle, one that was a sign of His transforming power, it was a whisper of things to come. In the future, He would turn frowns into smiles, despair into hope, fear into faith, and sinners into saints. The sick would be made well, and the dead would rise.
In our Gospel, the Blessed Mother turns to her son, Jesus and says, “They have no wine.” I wonder, could she also be speaking of us? Perhaps the wine has run out in the wedding of your life. The sense of satisfaction or celebration has, perhaps, run out of your marriage, your job, your career, your friendships, and maybe, your faith. It happens. At times we all feel the wine is running out.
I see and hear it all the time. My marriage seems like so much work: cleaning the house, taking care of the kids, fixing the leaking roof, having the car serviced. My job is at a dead end: my career is on hold. And so it goes. I hear it in the voices of people whose wine has run out: why should I vote? It really does not matter who wins. Or, I am too old to bother. So at times we all feel like the wine has run out. The Blessed Mother would have been right to point at us.
But then Jesus enters with the power to transform. He comes with the message that even though we may have had a disaster and feel hurt and betrayed, growth and fulfillment can rise from that. Did you notice that Jesus asked for help in working this miracle? He says, tell the servants to draw water and pour it into these jugs. If they did not do that then there would be no miracle, no transformation. The message is not only that Jesus can transform the loss, the boredom, the pain that some of us feel, not only can He restore the hope that we once knew and the love that has gone out of our lives, not only can Jesus do that, but He often asks us to help with the miracle. He says, okay servants, will you help? And if they did not help, He is powerless in the sense that without their help He did not have the water in front of Him to transform.
And so today He asks us, Help Me, bring Me the water so I can make all things new again. And most of all, to reach out to those around us whose wine has run out of their lives. Do we remember in our prayers those whose cups are empty? Whose wine has run out? Do we ever invite someone to worship with us, to come and listen to God’s word?
This Gospel is more than about a wedding; this Gospel is about emptiness. And people are dying of emptiness, more spiritual than physical. So when people come to you and say they have no more wine there is something you can do to fill that void. You can assist the Lord, you can pray, you can invite, you bear witness to what God has done for you in your life.
And so, now in a few moments we will begin our ancient meal. We are going to break the bread and share the cup because we are the people of God. As we do this, think of all the people for whom that piece of bread, the Eucharist, would be so nourishing to their spirits, and remember these words of Mary, her last words in the New Testament:
“Do whatever He tells you.”