Sunday, January 17, 2021

Taking a cup of wine.

Propers for the second Sunday after Epiphany

Sermon for the second Sunday after Epiphany

The Lord offers you a cup of wine. Do you take it? 

If He turns water into wine for us then we have proof that God does not demand us to be teetotal. Why else would He use wine to be transformed into His blood at the Mass?

Of course, being teetotal is not a bad thing at all, but it's not something we should expect of everyone. True, it means that, if you're teetotal, you don't get drunk and thus fall into a multitude of sins. But there are other sins of excess - self-righteousness for example. 


There are some people who use their personal discipline in abstaining from drink to take great pleasure in putting people down who enjoy a mug of beer or glass of wine. 

This is true of other forms of abstinence: there are vegans who will turn their abstinence from all animal produce into a show of greater moral character which they lord over others. While it is indeed a true and good thing to find better ways to treat animals and have a greater urgency to look after Nature, using it as a reason not to love your hamburger-munching neighbour shows that you worship a different god. 

We have to take care that, if we refuse the cup the Lord gives us, that we are not dashing it out of His hand.

Yet the cup the Lord offers is not always of wine.


St James and St John say that they can drink of the same cup that Our Lord drinks. They drink the cup of suffering for Christ. This is something that we often forget in the comfort of our lives. Sometimes the wine that the Lord gives us is bitter or sharp, or pains us.  

Do we refuse that cup? Do we dash the cup of suffering for Christ from His hand?


We Christians love Our Jesus. We would not willingly dash any cup from His hands. Instead, we run to Him begging Him to turn our water into wine. We  want to receive anything that He gives us gratefully because it is He that gives it to us. But often we do not recognise the wine we are given to come from Him.

We live in a depressing time where all seems dark and people seem sad and unkind. Some of us live in fear of coming darkness. Some of us fear the collapse of all that we love and hold dear. There are violence and harsh words. 

The cup we have to drink is to live in this world. The cup the Lord gives us is to tolerate living in a broken society and not turn our backs on it. The cup we are presented with is the harsh reality of being human beings separated from God by sin. This is what's in the cup and it looks horrible.

But this is just water. 

Watch as the water Jesus gives us becomes wine.


The wine that Jesus gives us means that we can have joy despite all the troubles in this world. Even in the darkest pit, even in the deepest fear, even in the sharpest pain, there can be joy. Jesus shows us this by His death. The holy martyrs show us by the way they willingly embrace their suffering. It can be done. We, too, can have joy and laughter and love and peace and see the glory of God even in persecution if we receive fully the cup of wine God gives us. The wine is His Spirit - it is His very self! And it means we can laugh at the Devil in his very face in amidst all the sufferings that He would use to wrest us from Christ. The wine that we receive gives us the power and strength to laugh in the faces of irritation, annoyance, fury, grief and despair, and all we need to do is drink deeply of Christ's cup. We need to drain it, not taste it, spit it out and return to comfortable despair.

All this darkness will pass. All pain and suffering will pass. The wine of God gladdens our hearts and draws us to Him. Our Lord offers you His cup? Will you take it?

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