Water into Wine
In the context of our First and Second readings today, the Gospel account of Jesus changing water into wine, should be seen in the light of two things for us human beings:
- Jesus has a gift which he was asked to use to help out others (the host was embarrassed).
- This was the first public miracle for Jesus: until then he was just another Jewish young man.
The first reading identifies a reality that all of us usually go through. At one point Isaiah proclaims: “no longer are you to be named ‘forsaken’ nor your land ‘abandoned’,”
Just as for the African people, attachment to the land in Israel is the same as their identity. To lose the land was to lose their identity: to be nobody special, to be the joke of others, and usually the slaves of other people’s desires.
Does that sound familiar to you? You are born into a family, you grow up with other siblings, you work like slaves around the home to please Mum & Dad, etc. Usually there is love but, for young men and women approaching 18, the love of parents can become like a prison!
The natural desire of the young is to “break free” and do their own thing. However, when they leave, they discover a lot of competition out there: every other young person is also looking for meaning, to be noticed and, finally, to be seen as important.
So, how can young men and women succeed in feeling valuable and important: worthwhile!
St Paul reminds us that we all have gifts and talents (skills) that we have received from the one God. We should not view ourselves as more important because we can do XYZ. We are invited to use our gifts for the good of others, as well as ourselves.
When we are children, we look for attention: “hey, mum, look what I did!” This is an important and necessary step in our lives: to learn that we are good, that people appreciate us.
But, as adults, we learn something even more valuable: our greatest joys come when we are able to use our gifts to help others become. As Isaiah says: “The nations then will see your integrity, all the kings your glory…”
Somehow, we need to see that the people around us are equally as important as ourselves. The analogy that comes to mind is the modern LED lights used for emergency lighting at home.
The large light – usually long and narrow – is made up of many small Light Emitting Diodes… each one alone is not very helpful, but combined together, they are a powerful force.
In the same way, when we only promote ourselves, we will shine for a moment but will not last long. However, when we all help others to “shine” (to succeed), our whole community will become prosperous, peaceful and joyful.
What does this mean for us today?
For young people: please continue to be energetic and joyful! Try hard to practice your talents.
For older generations: please create opportunities for the young people: eg. jobs, creative competitions of sport and drama, so people can reach their full potential.
Please, don’t just go home and say: well that’s Mass over for another week!
Our real Mass is just beginning: filled with the Eucharist, we are invited to try and create new opportunities for others to meet and find solutions.
I wish you success in turning water into wine… and when we feel reluctant to try something new, just remember, Jesus was not ready either, but Mary asked. As it’s hard to ignore our earthly mothers when they ask for help, so we should feel the same about our Heavenly mother.
My friend, there is no wine… may God help us to become wine-makers!
By Gerard Conlan, OMI