VINUM NON HABENT! (THEY HAVE NO WINE) HOMILY FOR THE 2ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem PhD

vinum non habent

Have you ever being to any wedding party wherein there was no wine or any drink at all? That sounds weird right? It does sound weird really because it is usual and characteristic for all wedding parties to feature different kinds of food as well as wine and other drinks. Significantly, wedding planners make concrete estimate for wine and other drinks because they add so much merriment and keep the ceremony going. While some people may not like to eat food in wedding ceremonies, almost everyone would need a little drink.

In most weddings in Nigeria, someone is usually appointed to safeguard and manage the storage where drinks are kept for the guests; nobody gets into the storage without pertinent authorization. This points to the need to have drinks flowing throughout the duration of the ceremony. In most places, the celebration end when the wine finishes!

Today we begin the 2nd Sunday in ordinary time of the year with the event at Cana in Galilee where Jesus changed water into wine. This event is a continuation of the Epiphany of the Lord. From a reflective standpoint, the miracle at Cana in Galilee was productive of another divine manifestation. St. John confirmed this when he said: “Jesus performed his first miracle in Cana in Galilee; he revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him”. (John 2:11).

From the inception of the narration of the event we were told that Jesus was invited to the wedding feast (as well as his mother and his disciples). The first point here is this:  JESUS WAS INVITED. Essentially Jesus would not come unless he is invited; he never forces himself in! This reminds us of the words in the gospel of John: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in his name”.(John 1:12). Sometimes we fail to invite Jesus yet we expect Him to do something new in our lives.

The fact remains that Jesus can only save those who have invited him to come into their situations and circumstances. If Jesus was not invited to the wedding, the account of a miracle at a wedding in Cana would not have been a reality. This also explains the words of the Saviour as recorded by St. John in the book of Revelation (3:20) where we see the Lord standing and knocking at the door of our hearts and expecting us to open and have him invited in.

The next stage of the narrative is the running out of wine during the wedding ceremony. It is clearly established that the wine failed. What an embarrassment! What happened? Someone could ask. Was the preparation for the wedding inadequate? There may be many answers. The presence of Jesus, the new phenomenon in the region could have attracted more guests to the wedding.

We can imagine that the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ which was indeed phenomenal turned the attention of the people to him. He became the centre point of all religious discussions. At the time people were wondering how he came to be a master with so much wisdom and power without going through the rabbinical schools. It could be that people were following him to see what amazing things he could do. This in a sense, could explains why the wine ran out so fast.

At that moment of failure or lack, someone very important entered the scene, namely Mary mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some commentators are of the opinion that either of the wedded couple could have been her relation and she had the prescience that the wine failed. Mary discovered that the couple were about to experience shame on their wedding day and she advance to give them a fame. She foresaw the impending ridicule and tried immediately to channel it to a miracle. This Marian intervention is descriptive of her role as Mediatrix of all graces given her intercessory role (See Lumen Gentium #61-62). It is also a depiction of her role as mother of perpetual help in times of perpetual need. It is finally also descriptive of her role as Undoer of Knots a devotion that is very important to Pope Francis.

 Mary’s sensitivity and concern was optimal. Hence she ran to her son our Lord Jesus Christ as the last resort to tell him that the wine had finished. Our Jesus Christ was not historically connected with wine as a trade so why did Mary come to him? To answer, she knew that our Lord Jesus Christ was capable of saving the situation with his divine powers. She understood our Lord as the true vine that produces the best of wine (John 15:1). Mary was the first disciple of Jesus Christ and the first to demonstrate faith in the distinguishable power of our Lord Jesus Christ. She not only saw the lack of wine but she went further to look for the supply of wine in Jesus Christ the true vine.

There are so many things to learn from the scarcity of wine at the wedding mentioned in the narrative. Jesus came as the second Adam to undo the mistake of the first Adam through his redemptive act. Mary stands here too as the second Eve to show forth the proper work of a helper fit for the man. At the garden of Eden, Eve approached Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit that led humanity to sin, gloom and shame but at the wedding at Cana Mary (the 2nd Eve) approached Jesus to save a situation that was about to lead the celebrants to gloom and shame.

The wedding couple at the wedding in Cana represent all of us. Sometimes in our lives we are at zero point in various ways; we are thrown into chaos, gloom, scarcity and bereft of all that should make life worthwhile. We are often lonely, disillusioned, confused, dejected and rejected. Sometimes it seems that the world will crash on our heads! Sometime we just lack that wine that should keep us going.

When Mary told his son about the scarcity of wine he replied “O Woman what is that to you or to me? My hour has not yet come.” Some critics have said that Jesus was rude to the mother but that is false. If we take a closer look at various points Jesus addressed a woman in public we see similarities like in these passages: (John 4:21, 8:10, 19:26, 20:31; Mt. 15:28; Lk. 13:12). Furthermore it was a courteous way of addressing a woman at the time. If we look at it side by side with the event at the Garden of Eden we see Jesus being more apt and sensible in the request of Mary than Adam who welcomed the idea of eating the forbidden fruit as soon as Eve mentioned it to him. At Eden and Cana two different women met two different men with different request. The first led to sadness and deprivation while the second brought joy and provision.

Now we pay attention to the miracle that took place. Before changing the water into wine, Mary gave the disciples an instruction that still stands till date. She said: “Do whatever he tells you”. We remember that the problem at the Garden of Eden was that of disobedience; that was actually what brought humanity into disconnection with God (Genesis 3). Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s instruction concerning the fruit at the middle of the Garden. Here at the middle of the wedding celebration and faced with scarcity of wine, Mary enjoined the disciples (representing us) to pay attention to what Jesus tells them; hence to be obedient.

The above shows that without obedience it will be difficult to receive miracles. Now before the miracle there was need for the people to bring something; six stone jars of water!  It was only at the creation that something came out of nothing. God cannot affect miracle from nothing; you must have something with you at least a little faith (Mark 11:22). Before any divinity expansion there must be a human structure.

 Elijah was able to feed alongside the widow and her son for the whole duration of the famine because the widow brought a little oil and flour (1Kings 17:14). Elisha was able to assist the widow whose husband died with debts from the little oil she had in her house (2 Kings 4:2-4). Our Lord Jesus Christ was able to feed the five thousand with the presence of five loaves of bread and two fish (John 6:11).

So for any miracle to happen there must be something present. At this wedding they had six stone jars each filled to the brim with about 30 gallons of water and with this present, Jesus changed the water into wine and it was the finest of wine as the steward of the ceremony testified. On that day, they had 684 litres of wine (30 gallons X 6 Jars X 3.8 litres). If they had the wine in our modern day 750ml bottles then they could have had 900 bottle of wine coming in the midst of lack, despair and hopelessness. God is indeed awesome.

We generally have so much to learn from the event that took place at Cana in Galilee: inviting God into our lives (as Jesus was invited), being sensitive to the needs of other (like Mary sensed the shame that could follow the scarcity of wine), being able to do the will of God at all time (like Mary asked the disciples to do whatever Jesus asked them to do), coming to God with something upon which He would work (like they provided six jars of water).

 In another disposition, we are moved to look upon God in our lacks as He will supply all our needs (Phil.4:19). This is made clearer in the First Reading (Isaiah 62:1-5) where God assured us that He will no longer keep silent over our situation as He will vindicate us, give us a new name and beautify us.

Finally this wedding at Cana points to our marriage with God which is all about being one and connected with Him. In the first reading the Prophet Isaiah spoke extensively about God’s reconnection with his people using nuptial terms. Among other things the prophet maintained that our land will be married. But married to whom? It is here that we see God taking us as special bride to himself. This theme is taken up again in the New Testament with Jesus Christ as the bridegroom and the Church as his bride (Matt 25:1-13; Jn 3:27-30; Rev. 19:7).

This marriage between Christ and his Church is productive of unity in diversity. This is where the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor.12:4-11) which we read as the Second Reading draws its strength. For St. Paul we are different parts making up a body and to each a special function is given. We are simply instructed that as members of the body of Christ, we should be responsive to our particular callings and to contribute our quota in the growth of the church. At the wedding at Cana Mary functioned as the intercessor, our Lord Jesus Christ did the changing of water into wine while the stewards had the function of sharing the wine.           `

We are admonished to take an active look into our communities and our families to know how effectively we are responding to the call to be united with one another and with Christ our head. Let us be attentive to the lessons from Cana as we conduct our lives and affairs in the New Year.

Happy Sunday and have a wonderful week ahead.

Fr. Bonnie.

3 Comments on “VINUM NON HABENT! (THEY HAVE NO WINE) HOMILY FOR THE 2ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem PhD

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