2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Reflection by Patrick Sinozich

“They have no wine.”

I hear a question in Mary’s voice as she points out to her son, Jesus, that the wedding guests have run out of wine. It’s a question that I carry within myself, a question familiar to many of us: Will I have enough? Are we running out? Are we rich enough? Safe enough? Good enough? Will we go over budget? Mary’s statement speaks of lack.

The wedding reception was in full swing and the wine had run out. Wine that the Psalmist says “gladdens the heart.” It’s a question of scarcity I hear in Mary’s voice, and Jesus answers it, as he always does, with abundance. Taking charge of a potential social gaff (“Did you hear about his wedding? The wine RAN OUT!!!”), Jesus has some empty ritual washing jars filled with about six hundred liters of water and turns the water into more wine!

Extravagant? Reckless? Yes! John tells us that this is the first sign of the reign of God. Jesus doesn’t call a prayer meeting as his first act of power. Instead, he empowers a party! The God that Jesus revealed is a God of lavish liberality, generosity, and extravagance. He calls us from emptiness to excess, from the least to the best.

Has the church lost its sense of mischievous abandon, which we see exemplified in Our Lord?

The empty stone jars tell a tale, don’t they? Rote religion, ritual observance, and purity don’t gladden the heart as much as spontaneous celebration of life. In fact, truth be told, too much ritual and purity can poop the party we are intended to be celebrating.

The key to Jesus’ brilliance in this first miracle is that he doesn’t conjure up fresh flagons of wine. Rather, he uses the existing and perhaps abandoned ritual vessels for a new and radical purpose. I wonder if we followers of the wine-maker have the same capacity.

And it troubles me that Jesus begins his ministry wanting to show that he can use the old ritual vessels to bring the new life of God’s Kingdom, yet later, after experiencing the hardness of our hearts, he warns that new wine cannot be poured into old wine skins. (Luke 5:37)

I wonder at what point he gave up on using old vessels. I wonder if he has reached that place with us.

The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right and just.

It is only a hunch, but I think the wedding at Cana was a little more rowdy than our liturgy. In fact, I am convinced the guests did not need to be told to lift up their hearts. The six hundred liters of fine vintage would have gladdened their hearts and in good Jewish tradition they probably shouted “L’chaim” to life! No rote responses here! Shouts of celebration!

The third day is meant to be the day of Resurrection. This was a third day wedding in Cana, and it makes me wonder, what will still have to be crucified before the church reaches the third day potential of new life?

Thank you, Lord, that despite us, you remain your reckless extravagant self. Please Lord, let the wine continue to flow. Flow out of the disused and dusty jars and into the streets where there can be dancing and joy, and where with you, the wine-maker of Nazareth, we may empower all people to call out “L’chaim!” Maybe then all people will come to believe in you and your abundance.