Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
By Deacon Scott D. Gilfillan
Consider the difference between water and wine. Water has no color, no odor, no taste. Wine has color – amber, red, or rose. Wine has a pleasing aroma. Some can judge the quality of the wine simply by the fragrance. Wine has taste. Some wines are sweet, some are fruity, some are dry, others bold.
We often take water for granted. Water is all over the place – falling from the sky, covering the ground, under the ground. Wine takes a lot of effort to produce. A person must plant the vines, tend the vineyard, harvest the grapes, smash the grapes, package the juice and ferment the wine.
Water will quench the thirst. Wine will intoxicate the spirit. Water is essential for life, but wine is essential for the fullness of life. One image of heaven is that of a banquet that includes both the richest foods and choicest wines.
At the wedding feast of Cana, Jesus turned water into wine. He turned something ordinary into something extraordinary. He turned something common into something rare and beautiful. He transformed something humdrum into something intoxicating.
The question: If Jesus can do something so amazing to some clay jars filled with just water, what do you think he can do with you, who are living flesh filled with the Spirit of God in your immortal soul?
Think about where you are today. Which better symbolizes your life: the water or the wine? Is your life without flavor, color, or aroma, mostly unremarkable? Or is your life like a cruet of wine: delicious, colorful, fragrant, life-giving, and intoxicating?
I would venture to say that many people live one day after another, sometimes wondering whether they’ve lost their direction, their purpose, their zest for living. Planted deep within the soul, however, is a yearning to be something more. People long to be filled with the intoxicating life of the Spirit, to have their life transformed from ordinary to extraordinary, from water into wine.
What makes this change? The Spirit of God. Through Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit came down upon the jugs of water at Cana and transformed them into gallons and gallons of wine. Through Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit can change your life too.
How? Saint Paul says something in his letter to the Corinthians that may shock you. He says, “To each individual, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” (1 Cor 12:7) He doesn’t say “to some individuals”. He says ‘to each individual”. He doesn’t say to ‘young’ individuals’ or to ‘old individuals’. He says, “to each individual.”
All have been given unique gifts by the Holy Spirit. In essence, we are the wine of God, the intoxicating presence of the Holy Spirit of God. We each may have a slightly different color and flavor and presence. But we each have been given a way to manifest the Holy Spirit in our world.
With spiritual gifts come spiritual fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, self-control… (Gal 5:22-23)
Here is an example of how you can change an ordinary situation into an extraordinary encounter with God. Imagine walking into a crowded room filled with joy. All of a sudden, the people in the room become ‘intoxicated’ with joy. Enter a tense situation anchored in the peace of Christ. All of a sudden the room becomes less tense, more relaxed. Just like a glass of wine takes the edge off of a stressful day, your peaceful spirit can take the edge off of a tense situation. The same is true if you’re filled with the wine of kindness or gentleness or generosity, people around you become kinder and gentler and more generous than before.
These things don’t happen because of you. They happen because of what the Spirit of God is doing through you.
During the Mass, there is a mingling of water and wine. The symbolism is powerful. The water is us. The wine is God. The little drop of water blends into the wine and cannot be separated from the wine. The words said at this mingling give a hint at what’s going on: “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” Water represents our humanity. Wine represents our divinity. Through the communion you receive, you have the divine life coursing through our veins. You are filled with the wine of God.
The secret to changing your life from water to wine is simple: let the wine flow. The wedding feast at Cana would have fizzled if Jesus changed the water into wine, but the wine stayed in the jugs.
The Spirit of God will die if you keep it bottled up inside. The Spirit is not given to you for your own benefit, but given to you to transform the world around you.
Your mission: Intoxicate the world around you with the fruit that comes from the wine of God: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. (1 Cor 12:4-6)