20 January 2019

From Water to Wine, Christ is our Savior

2nd Sunday OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP

The miracle at Cana tells us a lot about Jesus and Mary. That he is an obedient son, and that she is a generous guest. That he is well-aware of who and what he is – the Messiah. And that she knows this too. This miracle also tells us something about who and what we are, or who and what we can become. In fact, every miracle Christ performs to demonstrate his identity and mission can tell us something about who and what we are as his followers. If we follow Christ, then we participate in his identity and mission, making us, each one of us, a Christ. Now, I'm not saying that we can all go out and perform miracles. Or that we can all yell at random people on the street and initiate them into the Church. What I am saying is that when we faithfully follow Christ, we grow in holiness and become more and more perfect in how we love. This means that as we grow in the perfection of Christ, we ourselves are better able to help others go from the waters of baptism to the wine/blood of the Eucharist. How do we do this? How do we – imperfect as we are – help someone else to faithfully follow Christ? We have to be more than students of Jesus, the teacher. We must see him as our Savior.

That move from being devoted to Jesus as a holy teacher to following him as a Savior is a big move. It's the difference btw being a student of a great teacher and being a fellow-worker eager to share both his glory and his trials. I think most of us can say that we're ready to follow Christ. In theory, the whole scenario looks good, even healthy: repentance, forgiveness, penance, love, mercy, hope, good works, all tied together in the sacraments and supported by a vibrant religious culture. Think about the disciples. They have to make this same move. But their circumstances were very different. They are Jewish heretics. Their religious culture sees them as unclean, separated from family and friends,. Thus they are nearly overwhelmed when the ascended Christ sends the Holy Spirit among them at Pentecost, flooding each one of them with His fire for spreading the Word. In their darkest hour, they are given Divine Love, unmediated by law or prophets, undiluted by age or tradition. We are given this same Love: the Spirit to believe, trust, love, show mercy, do good works, to repent, and grow in righteousness. Like the disciples, we too come to believe that Jesus is the Savior and we show our faith in word and deed.

Our challenge as faithful followers of Christ becomes clearer and clearer every day. It's not our mission to defeat the world with holiness. The world is already defeated by Christ. It's not our mission to save the world with prayer. The world is already saved by Christ. It's not our mission to bring justice and peace among the nations through our good works. Christ did that too. Our mission is to live our lives as witnesses to all that has already been done by Christ. To live holy lives b/c the world is defeated. To live prayerful lives b/c the world is saved. To live lives doing good deeds b/c Christ's justice and peace lives already in us. We live lives of holiness and prayer, and doing good works not to change the world but to show the world all that has already been done for it. Christ gives one sign after another that shows his glory and the glory of the Father among us. All we can do is point to that glory with word and deed, and urge the world, “Do whatever he tells you.” That's enough to get us close to the Cross. But to get all the way to the Cross, we must be ready and willing to sacrifice everything. To show the world the glory of Christ, we must believe – by word and deed – and be ready to die for love of him.

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