Sunday, January 16, 2011

Homily for the Second Sunday after Epiphany


John 2:1-11; Romans 12:6-16; Exodus 33:12-23

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Our Lord simply loves weddings! After crowning His six-day’s work with the creation of man – male and female He created them – He joined them together in the one-flesh union of marriage and blessed them that they would be fruitful and multiply. And, it was at a wedding that Jesus performed His first sign, or miracle, and manifested His glory. Then, in the Revelation, we see our glorified Lord, standing as a Lamb slain, being wedded to His Bride the Church coming down from heaven. From the beginning, it has been God who has joined together; from shortly thereafter, it has been man who has separated.

Thus, Jesus blesses the wedding party at Cana with His presence. He wants to be there as two of His beloved children are made to be one. Our Lord simply loves weddings. He came with His mother and with His disciples who believed in Him. But, the wedding party ran out of wine. How many marriages today are at risk of running out of wine, or have already run out of wine? What God created as holy and as a fruitful blessing, marriage, has, because of man’s sin, become bittersweet and fraught with lies and deception, sorrow and pain. What was to be a brilliant image of the union God would have with man has become but a dim reflection. For, more than our fragmented marriages between husbands and wives, it is our marriage with God that has run out of wine. This Jesus came to restore, but His hour had not yet come.

Jesus’ hour, in John’s Gospel, is the appointed time of His passion and death on the cross. It is a time that will not be forced upon Jesus apart from His will: His life is His to lay down, no one takes it from Him. When His mother informed Him that the wedding party had run out of wine, Jesus replied that it was not a matter of concern between them now and that it was not yet the time for the shedding of His blood. Mary clearly understood this. Nevertheless, she instructed the servants to do whatever Jesus told them. It seems that Mary, who pondered the mystery of her son in her heart, who heard the prophecy told about Him by Simeon that He would be for a sign spoken against and for the rising and failing of many in Israel, and that a sword would pierce her own heart too, it seems that Mary urged her son along His destined path to the cross that He would perform this first sign and manifest His glory.

For, Jesus’ glory was manifested, not primarily in the miracle of changing water into wine, but Jesus’ glory was manifested in this first glimpse of His hour of passion that was yet to come. The water in those six stone jars was for the Jewish rites of purification. It was water that had been set aside to wash away the wedding party’s uncleanness that Jesus changed into wine. Amongst the sadness and the shame of this wedding party that had run out of wine, Jesus began to take the curse of man’s great divorce from God upon Himself and to fill its place with joy and life, the finest of wine. For, the glory of Jesus is not manifested primarily in wonders and miracles, but the glory of Jesus is manifested in the Lamb of God’s self-offering in death on the cross.

The wedding of Adam and Eve was an image of man’s wedding with God. That was the first day. Succumbing to temptation, tasting the forbidden fruit, man became the whore and divorced God in adultery. That was the second day. But, on the third day, there was a wedding. The third day is the day of resurrection, the Lord’s Day, the day on which the sun never sets. Jesus came to turn man’s sorrow and death into joy and life. He came to fill what the Law demands of us to the very brim, and not with mediocrity, but with the finest works, obedience, and love. He came to lay down His life for His friends, the greatest expression of love possible, that they might be restored unto God and live.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church, His body, and is Himself its Savior. Now as the Church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love you wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for Her, that He might sanctify Her, having cleansed Her by the washing of water with the Word, so that He might present the Church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that She might be holy and without blemish. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church.

Jesus’ first sign at the wedding of Cana points us squarely to the greatest sign, the sign of Jonah, that is Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection on the third day. For, it was from Jesus’ riven side upon the cross that was brought forth His Bride the Church. From the side of the New Adam was brought forth the New Eve in water and blood.

It is still the Third Day, the Day of Resurrection, and we are gathered here as one body in the water and the blood of our Bridegroom Jesus Christ. This is the New Cana, where the Lamb of God stands as though slain, still bearing the marks of His Calvary as glorious life-giving signs. And, the master of the feast, Satan, is stunned, knowing not from whence this precious wine comes (though you know) saying, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This is the Lamb’s High Feast, the Feast of Victory of Our God. He has fulfilled the Law, filled its gaping tomb-like mouth to the brim with the finest wine of His holy blood. No longer need you repeatedly, ritually return to the water for cleansing, but having been cleansed in His blood once and for all you are clean, holy before the Lord. This feast is but a foretaste of the Feast that is to come, the Marriage Feast of the Lamb in His Kingdom that has no end. But, it is all you need for today, for tomorrow, until He comes. Come quickly Lord Jesus. Come quickly, come.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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