Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 96:1-3, 7-10
Reading II I Corinthians 12:4-11
Gospel John 2:1-11
For us to get the feeling of today’s Gospel, you and I have to realize that this morning we are at a wedding. Jesus is the groom. You and I are the bride. For those of you who have entered into the sacrament of marriage, if you were to get married right now, you would say to each other, “I promise to love you in good times and bad, in sickness and in health. May we lead each other to Christ to the end of our lives.” Jesus is asking of us the same thing when we profess the creed. He says, “I am God; you are my people. I promise to love you; do you promise to love me? I promise to lead you; do you promise to follow?”
As we start to live out our lives we begin to look back and realize, “Oh, yes. I did say those words and I really meant them, but sometimes I am not always perfect.” But when we see Jesus as the groom and we are the bride, Jesus says, “I know what I just said to you, I was baptized so that I could open the gates. I am going to be with you forever, I am going to transform your life, and I just want to know: Are you going to take care of each other as my family? Are you going to be sisters and brothers, are you going to be wives and husbands, are you going to be children and parents, are you going to be next-door neighbors? Just know that I will make sure that your jars are always full. And that every time you go to that jar you are not only going to use the water to wash feet, but you are going to realize I have given you my body and my blood.”
How does that unravel for us everyday? I have shared stories about where and when I’ve been different places. When I went to my first assignment it was the wealthiest parish in the diocese, and it still is the wealthiest parish in the diocese. At that particular time, if you were a black-skinned person you were not allowed to purchase a house within the boundaries of that parish. Every Realtor knew that — it was a secret bond.
That barrier was being broken little by little. The secretary of our parish lived about a block from church. She and her husband and their four kids lived there, and one day she came in and said, “We had the strangest thing happen. When we got home yesterday the sidewalk was shoveled, the driveway was shoveled, everything was cleared of snow on our property, also for the next-door neighbor, and then on the other side. No one could figure out how this happened.”
A couple of days later she came back and said, “We found the answer. The family that moved in two doors down was a black family and it was the father of that family who went around and shoveled all the driveways and sidewalks of his neighbors.” That father drank the good wine from that jar. He was not of the Catholic faith — but in his heart he knew what it meant to have Jesus in his heart. That family was accepted instantly. Now anyone can live anywhere in that city.
If you read the Herald-Whig yesterday, on the religion page there were a couple of stories, and one was about a church that owned an empty house. They talked about it and decided to maintain the house instead of tearing it down, and to create an atmosphere that if someone needed a place to live they could stay in that house. The house became known as “God’s House.” It doesn’t make any difference if you are male or female, if you are baptized or Catholic, if you are black or white, if you are gay or straight, if you need a place to stay you are welcome in “God’s House.” That church congregation drinks from the jar of the best wine.
Now it comes to us. During this week you and I have been taking these six jars and we have been washing each other’s feet. Not literally, but we wash each other’s feet and now we come because the jars are empty and there are still feet to be washed. Jesus says, “I am not going to give you more water, I am going to give you my spirit. I am going to give you the choices of all wine because the wine symbolizes my blood and I am going to give my life for you. I am going to die on the cross. I want you to know that I depend on you each and every day to serve only the very best wine.” And that means we must be disciples. We must be stewards. We must use our talents and share our gifts.
Jesus says, “When you drink of this wine, you shall never thirst again and this wine will bring you home to me, and when you look into my eyes and I look into your eyes, everything else will disappear.” And then we are going to discover that the only reason that man shoveled the sidewalks, and the reason that church let people into that house, was because they drank the very best wine.
You and I must continue to be a family of faith without limits. We have a beautiful, dynamic parish. But maybe not all of us are drinking a full goblet of the real wine. Jesus says, “Once you taste it, once you taste my spirit, you are going to know why I brought you into the world, why you were baptized, why you were fed, and why you were at the wedding because it was at the wedding that I became your groom and you became my bride. When two people are in love they lay down their lives for each other. Will it be easy — absolutely not. Will it be worth it — absolutely yes. That is what the jars are all about. May you and I continue to wash each other’s feet, to share our gifts, and to be the family of God.
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.
(TASCAM DR 40 file 0027)