Sunday, January 17, 2016

When We Run Out of Wine

“The have no wine.” (John 2:3)

Last summer, I was driving with my parents to the gulf coast and listening on the radio to a homily that Pope Francis was preaching in Guayaquil, Ecuador.  The Mass was offered for families and the gospel that was proclaimed was the same that we just heard: the wedding at Cana.  The Holy Father focused on four simple words uttered by Mary: “they have no wine.”  St. John makes special emphasis that “the mother of Jesus was there” as if to tell us that someone was watching over the wedding just like Mary watches over all of us, and she notices that there is no wine.  Pope Francis points out that “wine is a sign of happiness, love, and plenty.”  We all need this wine in our lives (I’m speaking figuratively about wine at this point and not literally).  Yet, how many of us lack this wine?  How many of our homes, of our families, of our young people, of our elderly lack this wine?  How many do not take part in the “wedding feasts” of our lives?  Mary goes to Jesus because she wants everyone to take part in this feast, and more importantly the wedding feast of her Son, and to drink the new wine of the kingdom.

Now notice, the Holy Father says, the confidence in which Mary approaches her Son to make her request.  It is almost as if she is in prayer.  She doesn’t go to the steward as the servants do at the end, she goes straight to the source of life.  Jesus says his hour had not yet come, but the hour is hastened because how could Jesus turn down his mother’s confident request?  How often do we approach Jesus with a petition as Mary did with her confidence, with her humility, and with her love?  We need to approach prayer like this.  The Holy Father adds, “She teaches us to put our families in God’s hands; she teaches us to pray, to kindle the hope which shows us that our concerns are also God’s concerns.”

Then our Blessed Mother, without knowing what Jesus would do next, tells the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do.  Mary wants us to trust in her Son.  She wants us to obey her Son because he will indeed address our concerns and call us to service as he did the servants in the gospel especially when there is a lack of wine in our families.  This is where Pope Francis turns his attention to the family: “Service is the sign of true love. Those who love know how to serve others. We learn this especially in the family, where we become servants out of love for one another. In the heart of the family, no one is rejected; all have the same value.”

And Pope Francis ties all of these ideas about the new wine and the family brilliantly towards the end of his homily: “In the family, and we are all witnesses of this, miracles are performed with what little we have, with what we are, with what is at hand… and many times, it is not ideal, it is not what we dreamt of, nor what “should have been”. There is one detail that makes us think: the new wine, that good wine mentioned by the steward at the wedding feast of Cana, came from the water jars, the jars used for ablutions, we might even say from the place where everyone had left their sins…it came from the “worst” because “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5:20). In our own families and in the greater family to which we all belong, nothing is thrown away, nothing is useless.”

Mary helps us to make small miracles out of nothing through her blessed intercession.  We long for the new wine that comes from Jesus.  We long for happiness, love and plenty.  We long for families that are united to Christ and become models for society.  And even in the midst of despair, in the midst of a world that has no wine, Pope Francis promises that the best is yet to come because there will be new wine: “The best wine will come to those who today feel hopelessly lost. Say it to yourselves until you are convinced of it. Say it to yourselves, in your hearts: the best wine is yet to come. Whisper it to the hopeless and the loveless. Have patience, hope, and follow Mary’s example, pray, open your heart, because the best wine is yet to come. God always seeks out the peripheries, those who have run out of wine, those who drink only of discouragement. Jesus feels their weakness, in order to pour out the best wines for those who, for whatever reason, feel that all their jars have been broken.  As Mary bids us, let us “do what the Lord tells us”. Do what he tells you. And let us be thankful that in this, our time and our hour, the new wine, the finest wine, will make us recover the joy of families, the joy of living in a family.”

…and help us recover the joy of being a child of God!