Sunday, January 18, 2015

Communion at Cana

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the second Sunday after the Epiphany 2015.

We know that the first miracle that Our Lord performs is changing water into wine. Given that there are many sick and dying people, and people suffering, why is it that Our Lord should decide not to make His first miracle a miracle of healing but rather this, a seemingly rather frivolous event? After all, it’s not the end of the world if a wedding runs out of wine. It’s incredibly embarrassing for the bride and groom and might make their lives rather socially awkward, but it hardly seems a matter of life and death, does it?


The first thing that this tells us is that God actually cares about what we find important. The fact that His first miracle is a wedding shows that Our Lord sees the love between and man and a woman as being important to God. It is at this wedding that Our Lord gives of His grace and gives us biblical evidence as to why marriage is a true sacrament ordained and sanctioned by God Himself. It matters as much as the relief of the sick and ill, as much as the strengthening of the faithful, as much as the appointment of the disciples, and as much as the pronouncement of God’s forgiveness to the penitent. All of these themes are revealed to us in the Gospel of St John. Here we find five of the seven sacraments.

However we find something much deeper in Our Lord’s first miracle. Wine is not just something which makes a party go with a swing. In turning water into wine, Our Lord is demonstrating that the blood that He sheds at His death is a marriage between human beings and God. It is atonement. The only way that we can be saved from our fallenness is by being joined to God.

There are several little ceremonies that the priest performs when preparing the chalice for Communion. You may notice that He puts wine into the chalice first, then blesses water before putting a drop of that in. Here we think of the wine representing God and the water representing us. The blessing of the water represents our purification so that we might be joined with God. In a Requiem mass for someone who has died, the water is not blessed because the person has died and cannot be blessed any more save by the presence of God Himself.

You might not be able to see because of the priest’s back, but when the host is broken, a small bit of it is placed into the chalice. This shows us that it is through Christ that humanity is united with God because Our Lord is uniquely and inseparably Divine and Human.

This miracle at the Wedding of Cana shows us what Christ will achieve for us. Through His actions, we find true joy, true peace and true love. Our Mass can only provide this for a short time while we live now, but it is a foretaste of what we will be given when we are finally re-united with God Himself.

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