Sunday, January 17, 2016

Father Riley's sermon for January 17th, 2016

Epiphany II - C - 16                           John 1.1-11


“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.”
Three days after Jesus’ baptism John has Jesus passing by as the Baptist is speaking to his disciples. “Behold the Lamb of God….” John announces to his friends, as he points out Jesus.  Two of the Baptist’s disciples follow after Jesus, namely John and Andrew.  Jesus invites them to spend the day with him wherein he teaches them about the kingdom of God and God’s plan of salvation.
Andrew is convinced they have indeed found the Messiah and goes to seek his brother, Peter and bring him to Jesus.  These three follow Jesus to Cana of Galilee where Jesus encounters Phillip and invites him to join them.  Phillip is so excited that he runs ahead and find his friend Nathaniel and announces the good news that he has found the Christ and he is Jesus of Nazareth.
Nathaniel hesitates to believe that anything good can come out of Nazareth, but when Jesus arrives and acts as though he knows Nathaniel inside and out, he is amazed and decides to follow along and see for himself who this Jesus really is and what he is up to.
“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.”
Jesus and his 5 new found friends are invited to attend the wedding.  This is one of only two occasions we meet Jesus’ mother in the gospel.  The other being at the foot of the cross.  Mary presses the issue of “wine” and the fact that she believes that Jesus can do something about the lack of it.  Thus she does not hesitate to urge him to do so.
But Jesus quickly replies that “his hour has not yet come.”  The wedding feast at Cana, looks on, as it were, through many other references to his “hour”, until at last the hour does come, and his glory fully revealed.  Events like the miracle at Cana point on to that moment as do the other “signs” John presents in his gospel that point to the indwelling of the creative power (God’s Spirit) within Jesus.
The wedding feast is a foretaste of the great heavenly banquet in store for God’s people (Rev. 21.2) and the wine symbolic of life.  The transformation from water to wine is meant by John to signify the effects Jesus can have, and still have today, on people’s lives.  He came, as he says later, that we might have life and have it more abundantly.
We are now in the Epiphany season which began on January 6 with the Magi’s visit to the Christ-child and will continue until we have the ashes from last year’s celebration of Palm Sunday imposed on our foreheads in the sign of the cross signifying the beginning of the season of Lent (Feb 10).
Epiphany is a Greek word meaning “manifestation” or “revealing” in other words “making known”, or showing forth.  The Christ-child was revealed to the Magi at Bethlehem after having followed the star that led them on their way.  The Christ, the Messiah was revealed by the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove at the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan.
In today’s gospel the miraculous powers of Jesus are revealed for the first time at the wedding feast at Cana in the changing of water into wine; a revelation, John says, that caused his new found friends to believe in him.  The Epiphany season is one marked by revelation.
Jesus’ miracles were not wonders to astound, but signs pointing to his Glory; God’s presence within him.  The miracle at Cana was the first of seven signs performed by Jesus in John’s gospel that point beyond themselves to the truth that the Kingdom of God has come in the person of Jesus Christ.
The final manifestation/revelation is anticipated in Jesus’ remark to his mother’s urgent request that he do something about the lack of wine:  “my hour has not yet come,” referring to his glory that would be revealed by his death on the cross.  The miracle at Cana takes place on the “third day”, an unmistakable pointer to the resurrection and the exaltation of Jesus.
His glory refers both to his divine power shown by his signs and wonders, and to his humble service to mankind, shown most perfectly on the cross.  In both ways Christ reveals that he is the One sent from the Father.
The birth, baptism, and first miracle were not isolated events to be eclipsed by Calvary, but were part of a continuum that culminates in resurrection.  Given our disjunctive approach to word and season, it is possible to miss the progression, and instead focus on a single gospel event each week.  One challenge of the word, however, is to acknowledge the continuity in Jesus’ mission as well as the integrity it calls forth in our own lives.
Our “new life” in Christ began for each of us at the font of life where in our baptism we were buried with Christ in his death and raised to new life in him.  It doesn’t end there in a single event, however.  To be a Christian is to live a life-time road to God; a progression of day by day maturing in our own vocation; one strengthened and guided by the Holy Spirit, and nurtured by word and sacrament that moves us away from the font of life and towards the throne of God.
As Jesus’ mission was not complete with one miracle late in the wedding reception, so is the essence of the Christian vocation not to be found in occasional acts of charity and obligatory Sunday worship.  It is not such individual moments, but the ongoing commitment in faithful love which is the true manifestation of God’s continuing presence among us, and a proper response to God’s Love that sent His only Son, Jesus to be the light of the world.  AMEN +

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