Second Sundayof the Year
It Out: Jesus has Given Us His Blood
Today's gospel contains a dialogue between Jesus and his mother Mary. The dialogue is not just thrown in to keep the story interesting. It is essential to an understanding on Jesus' mission on earth as well as to the understanding of how we must live our Christian lives.
First of all, the setting: It's a wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. In the Gospel of John, where the wedding feast is found, this is the first public appearance of Jesus with his disciples. At this point in the Gospel of John Jesus had not performed any miracles. When Mary tells Jesus that there is no wine, Jesus appears to snap at her by saying, "How does this concern of yours effect me? My hour has not yet come." Then Mary seems to ignore this by telling the waiters to do whatever He says.
The dialogue was not about wine. It was about setting into motion the events which would lead to Jesus' crucifixion, death and resurrection. Once the people saw Jesus' glory, as the reading for today concludes, they would proclaim Him as Messiah, making His hour, His death, inevitable. Mary does not respond to Jesus' question because she herself knows who He is and knows that it is now time to put His mission into motion. Jesus transforms the water into wine, by doing so he will soon transform wine into His blood.
The reading is about the gift of the Body and Blood of the Lord on the cross and in the Eucharist.
“For Zion’s sake, I will not be silent. For Jerusalem’s sake, I will not be quiet.” That comes from the first reading for this Sunday from Isaiah 62. When something wonderful happens, people talk about it, loudly. Or, at least they should. Consider the world of sports. In case you are living in a cave somewhere and haven’t heard: the Yankees won the World Series last Fall. Sorry, all you Red Sox and Phillie fans, but they’re back. Now, most Yankee fans, including me, have been really vocal about the team, and to the victors belong the spoils, at least on the sports field. But, there is something I want to point out. We are very loud about some things which in the long run do not effect the vast majority of us, such as sports, but are quiet about the one event the really matters and that has an infinite effect on each of us: the Christ event. We need to be proclaiming Jesus Christ with our lives as well as our words.
Think of this. We have received the greatest Christmas present there could possibly be. We have received the Lord. The gift is not a one time event. He keeps giving Himself to us in the Eucharist.
We need to be shouting to the world that Jesus is here in His Body and Blood. Instead, we are silent when it comes to the Eucharist. Perhaps, in our efforts to find common ground with our Protestant brothers and sisters, we barely mention what the Eucharist means to Catholics. Even among ourselves, we speak at length about every aspect of Christianity, but tend to gloss over that which makes us distinctly Catholic, the Body and Blood of the Lord.
A number of years ago a man met with me who was coming into the faith. He said, “Father, maybe I am not becoming Catholic for the right reasons. I, really, really believe in the Presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and I really want to receive communion.” I told him that I could not think of a better reason for him to become Catholic. The fact is that the main reason why adults join our faith is to be admitted to the Eucharist.
What is it that these adults realize that we “cradle Catholics” have taken for granted? Perhaps, they sense the Sacramental Presence of the Lord in our Churches, in our tabernacles. Perhaps, they see us in prayer at communion time or before the Blessed Sacrament in Eucharistic Adoration and realize that there is more to Catholicism than the fellowship of the Christian community. Perhaps they sense that at communion time each Catholic has an individual meeting with the Lord within him or her.
Sometimes a person might ask you, “What is it about the Catholic Church that grips you? Is it the services, the music, the pageantry? Is it the fact that Catholics know where they stand in areas of dogma, faith, and morality? What is it that grips you?” What is it that grips us? We need to look closely into ourselves and respond with the deep reality of Catholicism: “We really believe in the Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. We love receiving Him in communion. This to us, is fundamental to our faith life.” When we take our young people on retreat, we spend hours planning talks and events. But every single time if you ask them what was the highlight of the weekend, the retreat, the vast majority will say, “Eucharistic Adoration.”
“For Zion’s sake I will not be silent. For Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet.” In Isaiah, Jerusalem or Zion, was not just a place, it was the action of God in the world. The prophet shouts because he wants the world to realize what God is doing. He wants others to join the transformation of the world into the Kingdom of God.
We proclaim the Eucharistic Presence so that others can join us in union with Jesus at the Last Supper, on the Cross and at His Resurrection. We proclaim the Eucharistic Presence so others can join us in the Lord’s re-creation of the world through the gift of His Body and Blood.
Water has been changed into wine. Wine has been changed into blood. Don’t be quiet about it. Tell the world: God loves us in ways infinitely beyond our deepest hopes and gives us a gift infinitely greater than our deepest needs.