January 20, 2013

imageHOMILY for 2nd Sunday per annum (C)

Isa 62:1-5; Ps 95; 1 Cor 12:4-11; John 2:1-11

Those of us with scientific minds will want to inquire: how does water just instantly change into wine? Philosophers and sceptics among us might ask: did this miracle actually happen? We could debate at length over this – as many scholars and thinkers have – but, then, I’m neither a philosopher nor a scientist, so I shan’t! Besides, we’d be missing the Evangelist’s point. St John is a brilliant theologian, deeply familiar with the Old Testament, and his concern is to ask: what is God doing here? Unlike the scientist, the theologian searches for meaning and purpose in things and events; his question is why. And St John calls this incident at Cana “the first of [Jesus’] signs”, so we also need to ask: what does the sign point to?

Traditionally, the feast of the Epiphany on the 6th of January celebrated in one feast three manifestations of God’s presence among Mankind: firstly, the wise men are led to the Christ Child in Bethlehem; secondly, Christ is baptised in the Jordan and God confirms that this is his beloved Son; and thirdly, Christ performs the first of his signs at Cana, changing water into wine. Nowadays these three epiphanies have been spaced out over three weeks, but each of them says something about God’s presence and activity in the world. 

In the first case, God leads the wise men, representing all the nations of the world, to Christ; they follow a star to Bethlehem. This means that God shines the light of salvation on all humanity. It is no longer just the privileged people of Israel, but all people from all nations who are now invited to Bethlehem, to the place where the Lord feeds us with himself, the Bread of Life. Hence, the Church is catholic – all-embracing and universal – and all who accept her embrace are called the People of God. The Lord’s baptism then shows us, through Christ’s own example, how we accept the embrace of the Church and become members of Christ’s Body. Hence, through baptism, we are not just God’s People but become Sons and Daughters of God. We share in Christ’s life, and, so, we are caught up in the embrace of the Holy Trinity. But this isn’t close enough. Today’s epiphany at Cana takes us one step further, into an even deeper intimacy with God – the intimacy and union of marriage. 

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March 4, 2012


Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Lent (B) - originally posted at Torch.op.org

Gen 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Ps 115; Rom 8:31b-34; Mark 9:2-10

Mountaineering is a transcendent experience. On a human level, we transcend the limitation of our fears, and discover the tenacity of the human spirit. As Edmund Hillary put it, “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” But mountains have also long had a religious significance and have been regarded as places where God is encountered. From mountaintops, God reveals to Man that his human limitations and mortal fears can be transcended, and Man discovers the divine heights to which the human spirit can soar.

For what every human heart longs for is to see God, but no one can see God’s face and live (cf. Ex 33:20). So, the closest the prophets and patriarchs could come to transcending this human limitation was to climb mountains, where God allowed them a glimpse of his glory. We, too, must be mountaineers if we’re to see God, and today’s Lenten readings show us how. With God’s grace, we are enabled to conquer something in ourselves as we climb each peak, so that, from each of these mountaintops, we can see something of God.

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