Thursday, 22 January 2015

2nd Sunday after Epiphany 18 Jan 2015 Sermon

2nd Sunday after Epiphany 18.1.15 Two miracles

The miracle of Cana was Our Lord’s first public miracle, the first of many.

Of all the other miracles there is one in particular which could be understood as a completion of this first miracle. First, He changes water into wine. Later, He changes wine into blood.

The first miracle represents God’s bounty, for which we are grateful - things such as life, food, wine, all the things we enjoy and value.

If that was all we would probably be happy with that.

But God wants to go further. So He gives us the second miracle.

And this is why He has so few friends. Because the second miracle (turning wine into blood) is a source of anguish to the world.

The same God who will bless us beyond our dreams also asks for some response.

He asks us to be involved, to participate.

This means that we learn to give as He does, to be willing to suffer for the good of others.

Jesus is asking us to accept this higher blessing. Is this a blessing – to be invited to share someone’s suffering? We come to see that it is so.

St Hilary observed that to be human is to be more than just beasts in the field; content to graze, making sure the stomach is full.

We are meant for higher things, to know the difference between good and evil, to keep the commandments.

But not to stop there either. We are not just to obey God but to share in His life. We are not just His servants, but His children.

To share in the life of God means, as far as it is humanly possible, to be like God Himself; to be like Our Lord in His humanity: especially to be able to give of ourselves.

Of all the qualities a human has the one we admire most is the ability to give one’s life for another. Thus we honour people who have done that, like fallen soldiers.

We don’t admire someone who just knows how to have a good time; but we do admire someone who makes some kind of sacrifice.

Of all the things Jesus did in our midst, by far the most admirable is that He died for us.

This is the level He takes us to; that we are (at least in principle) willing to lay down our lives for each other.

When Our Lord asked the apostles: can you drink the cup which I must drink (Mk 10,38) - it was the cup of sacrifice He meant. Can you be that close to Me that you will do as I did?

The first cup (wine) is easy to drink. That is merely to enjoy the bounty of God’s creation.

It is the second cup (blood) which is a much stronger drink. It requires character to drink from this cup.

If we are able to drink from it with full understanding and commitment it means we have grown to be genuine disciples of Our Lord.

And this is why Our Lord is not as popular as He ought to be - because this second level sounds too much like ‘religion’, too much like hard work!

Everyone likes to satisfy the sense experiences; not everyone wants to go to a spiritual level.

We may not be ready ourselves for that second cup. Let us say that every time we receive Holy Communion we can think of ourselves as being changed within, and becoming a better person; and our capacity to love is increased each time.

It is not all suffering in this life, of course. Many times we are allowed to taste of the festive cup of wine – meaning, any legitimate enjoyable experience. But when the occasions come we must be prepared to taste from the second cup as well.

Thus we have feasting and fasting in our lives.

Both cups are good for me and I will take them both.

No comments: