Sermon â€“ Fr.Ron Barnes, Holy Trinity Cathedral, New Westminster, BC Epiphany II, Jan 18, 2004
â€śDo whatever He tells you.â€ť
Been to a wedding lately? Remember the beautiful service, followed by the noisy and fun filled Reception? Have you considered how much Dad had to pay to provide that happy Reception for the Afternoon or Evening? All that food, and all that wine --- quite a bit, eh?
Well how would you feel if you lived in Jesusâ€™ Day, and discovered that Wedding Receptions went on for a whole WEEK? And that meant that Dad paid for Breakfast, Lunch and Supper for all the Guests for a WEEK. And not only the food, but also a specially designed alb for ever guest to wear --- similar to the alb Iâ€™m wearing this morning --- only it would have a design or coloured hem that would identify you as one of the Wedding Guests. But thatâ€™s not all --- not only the Wedding Alb for all the guests, but all the wine they would need for a week. Donâ€™t forget, everyone drank wine at every meal --- water was used for washing or farming --- most water was not safe to drink.
It was into just such a situation that Jesus was invited. Mary, the Mother of Our Lord, was one of the organizers of the Wedding, and naturally Jesus, who had just been baptized by St.John the Baptist, and completed his 40 days of prayer in the Wilderness, was invited too. And He came --- and brought all his new disciples --- so perhaps you can see why, part way through the Wedding Reception, they ran out of wine. I donâ€™t want to say that Jesus and His disciples caused the problem --- but letâ€™s face it, the additional people didnâ€™t help. To run out of wine in the middle of a Wedding Reception was a pretty embarrassing thing to do, in those days.
And so itâ€™s natural that Mary would turn to Jesus and say: â€śThey have no more wineâ€ť. Notice, Mary does not tell Jesus what to do --- she simply brings the problem to His notice, believing that He will know what to do. She is not expecting a Miracle --- up to this point, Mary is not aware of any Miracles that He has done --- but, the result of Maryâ€™s request will be the very first Miracle that Jesus has done --- and a dramatic one it is. Calling the Servants to her, Mary says to them: â€śDo whatever He tells you to do.â€ť Simple, and to the point --- â€śDo whatever He tells you.â€ť
Jesus leaves the Reception and heads outside, followed by the Servants. There he finds a number of wash pots. They contain water used for the washing of hands. You dipped water out of them, and poured it over your hands, and scrubbed them religiously, before you went into the Reception --- a really hygienic and pleasant idea.
â€śFill the water pots to the brimâ€ť, says Jesus. And the Servants head over to the well, and bring buckets of water to fill the wash pots. â€śNowâ€ť, says Jesus, â€śdraw from them into your wine jugs, and take what you have drawn to the Steward in Charge.â€ť They did so. And as they tipped their wine jugs to fill the glasses, out came --- not water, but wine --- wine so much better than the original that it was remarkable. This was the First of Jesusâ€™ Miracles, and His new disciples believe in Him.
Now there are 2 things I want you to learn this morning:
- First, the Story proclaims that when Jesus is involved, changes happen for the better. When you are walking with Jesus, your life ceases to be bland and ordinary, and becomes filled with joy and power and new meaning --- Jesus changes people --- just as water is changed to wine. With Him, there is a new superabundance --- and new joy in your life --- an abundant life that fills you now, and takes you all the way to Eternal Life.
- Second, I want you to see the real Heroes of the Story. Who do you think they are? Mary? Jesus? the Wedding Couple? Nope. None of these. The real Heroes of the Story are the Servants.
The Servants, you ask? Why them?
Because the Servants did as they were told --- and did it in faith --- when millions of the rest of us wouldnâ€™t have done so. Their Obedience was the key to the Miracle.
Put yourself in their place. Mary tells you: â€śDo Whatever Jesus Tells you to do.â€ť OK, so you follow Jesus outside and on His command fill up the wash pots. Then Jesus tells you to fill your wine jug with the water from the wash pots. So far so good.
Now, Jesus tells you to carry your wine jug, into the Reception, and pour it into the wine glasses. And thereâ€™s the problem. You know the jugs contain water --- you put it there. If you pour water into those wine glasses, youâ€™ll be fired. Youâ€™ll be thrown out on your ear. Youâ€™ll be disgraced. To carry that water filled wine jug into the Feast, as if they are filled with wine, is to risk losing your job. What do you do?
I know that Iâ€™d have a few words to say to Jesus right away. I know Iâ€™d be asking for some explanation, some reason why I should be risking my job on his say-so. I know that I would much prefer to forget the whole affair, and find something else to do.
But, with all those thoughts going through their minds, with all their doubts and worries, those Servants â€śDid What Jesus told them to doâ€ť. And thatâ€™s why, when they tipped their wine jugs to fill up that first wine glass, out came --- not water --- but wine --- and the finest of wine to boot. Their Obedience, based on their Faith in Jesus and the Command of Mary, was the key to that Miracle. Without their Obedience there could have been no Miracle. The Servants were the Heroes, and their Faith in Jesus made the difference.
For me, the Meaning of this Story is very clear. We are each of us called to Servants for Jesus. We are called to Serve the World, to Care for the Poor, to Heal the Sick, to Rescue the Abandoned, and to Raise the Dead. We are the Servants of Jesus in our day, and Jesus commands us to â€śdraw and carry what we haveâ€ť to the Poor and Sick and Abandoned of this world. We have so little, but if we Obey Jesus, He is able to change what we offer into Life Giving Healing for the World. The Work of Christ is in out hands --- to do or to not do --- Miracles will happen, when we Obey Jesus. Without our Obedience, nothing will happen.
The words of Mary, the Mother of our Lord, speak to me and to you, this Sunday. They say to each of us --- â€śDo Whatever Jesus Tells You to Doâ€ť. This isnâ€™t an option, itâ€™s a marching order. If we Obey, the Miracles of Jesus will be made manifest in our day --- and if we donâ€™t the Powers of Darkness will continue.
So, I beg you --- come to the Altar this morning. Be filled with the Power and Strength of God through the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, and prepare to go back out into His world --- to be His Servants, Obedient Servants, Servants of Christ to everyone you meet.
â€śDo Whatever He Tells you to Doâ€ť, says Mary to us this morning. Because in that way, when we â€śDo Whatever He Tells us to doâ€ť, with Faith and Obedience, believe me, Miracles will happen every day.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen