The best wine

Source: The best wine – The Zimbabwean

‘There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee.’  The wine ran out and we know what happened.  John calls this Jesus’ first ‘sign’ but he does not explain.

We fill in the background by recalling the ancient imagery of the prophets that foresaw the ‘wedding’ of God and his people. ‘The Lord takes delight in you … as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride.’ In attempting the impossible task of describing heaven, the prophets can think of no better image than a wedding banquet.

This image does not excite our contemporaries.  The idea of postponing out happiness to a future life has little appeal today even if it assuaged for a while the hardships of life of our medieval ancestors.  If people know nothing else about Karl Marx they are at least likely to be aware he condemned religion as ‘opium’ which made people forget the injustice they experienced daily.

The Jesuits produce a ‘Year Book’ annually to share information about their activities around the globe. The one for 2018 gives an amazing range of activities in a wide variety of countries. Three, interconnected, things struck me.  In place after place there are the almost crushing challenges people face centred round the failure of governments to serve them selflessly and imaginatively, the rape of the environment with its impact on the poor and – following from these – the overwhelming poverty experienced in country after country.

At the same time, along with countless other groups and individuals, the Year Book describes the efforts made to address these issues, be they as small as lighting a candle in the midst of seemingly overwhelming gloom.  The firm hope is that these tiny lights will kindly other lights, like the lights lit on Easter night from the paschal candle.

The wedding at Cana, to the passing eye, was basically the same as countless other weddings in every part of the world up to then and since.  But ours is not a passing eye.  We contemplate that scene for a while, recognising it as a promise and a sign leading somewhere.  That ‘somewhere’ is evolving day after day in the struggles for justice in every corner of the globe.  In the story of Cana the best wine was kept till last.  The world has tried solutions which are immediately satisfying but ultimately leave a gap.  We have tried ‘the cheaper wine’ for too long.  It is time to go for the best.

20 January 2018                     Sunday 2 C

Isaiah 62:1-5                           1 Corinthians 12:4-11             John 2:1-12