The Christmas and Epiphany Seasons, have shown us Jesus, God and man, and how deeply He has entered into the human condition, save sin, by His birth and Incarnation. In the episode preceding today’s Gospel, our Lord receives the baptism of John, and disappears into the crowd of humanity, to begin His earthly ministry. He has called His disciples. Now, He gives us a sign.
Jesus was born into humanity to bring us something, which He will achieve in His cross and resurrection. Now, in today’s Gospel, He foreshadows it as He begins His mission: transformation, the fulfillment of the hopes of Israel as water becomes wine, the wedding feast which portends the marriage between heaven and earth, the Blessed Mother, who, at the beginning, as at the end of the Lord’s public life, is present as our powerful intercessor and model of faith.
He has come to bring us something, a power not our own. When Matthew, Mark, and Luke speak of the Reign of God, they speak of the seed planted, which dies to itself, and is transformed. The farmer has an important and even essential role in cultivating the field. However, the growth takes place by a power not his own. The farmer is a person of faith. When John speaks of the Reign of God, he speaks of the creative Word of God, which encounters what we bring to Him, and transforms it in a sacramental sense, and with more than a sufficiency, the water jars filled to the brim, the best wine now. In the great exchange which is the cross and resurrection, Jesus brings to humanity the redemption and life and grace of God, life to the full.
Today brings us to a poignant moment in our time. January 22nd is the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortion on demand in our land. You are well aware of the grave violation to human life which this imposes, and the lie which it represents. The society tells a woman or a couple that they can go through an abortion and walk away as if nothing happened. The experience of suffering which those who have done so bears witness to the life and person of the unborn, and has given rise to many important healing ministries such as Project Rachel.
A newly-married couple professed that they were not ready for children and decided to delay pregnancy. They found themselves expecting, delivered their child, and found joy and fulfillment in parenthood. They were asked about their earlier sense that they were not ready for children. Their response? “Children make you ready.” Something not our own, not only the sufficiency but the fullness of God’s grace, this is what Christ Incarnate, crucified and risen, brings to us. In the order of nature, prosperous times make us forget difficulty, and difficult times make us forget prosperity. But in the order of grace, His grace is ever new. He gives us the grace that we need, He gives it to us when we need it.
The water jars filled to the brim are also a sign of the fullness of faith and trust which we may bring confidently to the Lord as we present ourselves and our daily circumstances to Him. And the new wine, better than the old, is a sign of the unimaginable grace and hope which He is always ready to give us at the voice of His command, bringing life to the full to those who, as the Blessed Mother put so beautifully and simply, “Do whatever He tells you,” and like the disciples, see the meaning of these events and believe in Him.