Saturday, 12 September 2015

ST. JOHN 2: 6-12

                                                                  v.6 – Now there were set there six water pots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.

While Jesus does not specifically say of Himself: I am the living water, we would not be remiss to view Himself as such since when speaking with the Woman at the Well [4:14] He does say:…the water that I shall give…will become a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.

The stone jars containing water which will become the matter of Jesus’ first public miracle and manifestation of His glory are a reminder – remembering too all stone is simply a form of rock – the source of living water was Himself ‘contained’ in the ‘pot, the jar’ of the tomb made of rock: cf. Mt. 27:60; Mk. 15:46; Lk. 23:53, before the ultimate miracle and manifestation of His glory, His Holy Resurrection.

About 70% of the world’s surface is covered by water, however these are the oceans which within contain about 96% of all water on and under the earth, while at the poles and in the mountain glaciers much is frozen.

That means only about 2.5% of earth’s water supply is so-called fresh water, which however does not mean it is necessarily clean enough to drink!

By weight the average adult body is approximately 65% water and while a healthy human being may survive about three weeks without food we cannot last more than a week without water.

Genesis 1:2, speaks of the Holy Spirit ‘hovering over’, that is breathing over the waters of the earth, at the very dawn of creation; water was used by God in the great flood as a means of purification of humanity from its bondage to sin; to save His Chosen People God parted the waters of the sea and when Christ’s Heart was pierced on the Cross: Blood and Water gushed forth and in this the Church has always seen the outflow of sacramental life: Baptism, and the ultimate sanctifying food, the Holy Eucharist.

Thus the Roman Catholic Church in the blessing of water for baptism during the Easter Vigil prays:  At the very dawn of creation Your Spirit breathed on the waters, making them the wellspring of all holiness. The waters of the great flood You made a sign of the waters of baptism, that make an end of sin and a new beginning of goodness. Through the waters of the Red Sea You led Israel out of slavery, to be an image of God’s holy people, set free from sin by baptism. In the waters of the Jordan Your Son was baptized by John and anointed with the Spirit. Your Son willed that water and blood should flow from his side as he hung upon the cross.

The Orthodox Church, on the feast of the Theophany, called Epiphany in the Roman Church, blesses water praying:  Today the nature of the waters is sanctified, the Jordan bursts forth and turns back the flood of its streams, seeing the Master wash Himself. To the voice of one crying in the wilderness,  prepare ye the way of the Lord,  You came, O Lord, taking the form of a servant,  asking for baptism though You have no sin.  The waters saw You and were afraid.  The Forerunner began to tremble and cried out, saying:  How shall the lampstand illumine the Light?  How shall the servant lay hands upon the Master?  Sanctify both me and the waters, O Saviour, Who takes away the sins of the world.

There are sentences in the Holy Gospel, indeed in all of Sacred Scripture, which may at first glance appear rather simple: a statement of some fact or not that important a descriptive.

If however we take the time to sit still with the precise words, and listen to the Holy Spirit, we will discover how much is contained therein, how much is offered for contemplation and learning.

When we contemplate the night sky, stand upon a mountain top and gaze at the valley, forests, lakes, rivers below or towards the far distant horizon, or perhaps simply wander through a field of wildflowers what should astound, in the sense of both thrill and comfort us, is the lavishness of God’s creative love of all that is both for our needs or pure enjoyment.

So too with the huge amount of water St. John has pointed to – created matter about to be transformed in a gesture, lavish in itself, that will fulfill an urgent need.

v. 7- Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.

In Jesus’ teachings about mercy, in St. Luke we find: Give, and it shall be given to you: good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over shall they give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you shall use, it shall be measured to you again. [6:38]

God is never outdone in generosity.

With modern technology we can see/observe many things which for previous generations were almost unknowable: we can peer into the soil and watch a seed sprout; use other technology to find deposits of gas, oil, water not only deep beneath the surface of the earth but of the sea as well; we can gaze into the far reaches of space and detect light that has travelled for eons from point of origin, or see stars being born or die; indeed we can now even look into the womb at the earliest stages of a human life beginning and observe those stages right to the moment of birth.

However the price we pay for such ‘peering into’ ability is a decrease both in our capacity for wonder and our willingness to be peaceful about mysteries beyond our ken.

Such is the nature of authentic miracles.

We can see the external acts of sacramental baptism, but not the miracle which occurs in the soul; we can see the external acts of Holy Mass, but not the miracle of transubstantiation. Two examples of sacred mysteries which must and will always be: mystery.

Vs.8-9 - And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine…

True miracles are always experiential and always have a forward moving impact on the recipient.

We cannot see the mystery of what unfolds in the soul of a penitent when the miracle of Divine Mercy is lavished through the priest announcing the words of absolution, but the transformation of a burdened heart is visible on the face of the penitent and mostly unfolds forward in a renew commitment to a truly Christian life.

Vs. 9-10- …and he did not know where it came from [but the servants who had drawn the water knew], the master called the bridegroom. And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”

Ordinary bread is good. Ordinary wine is good.

The consecrated bread and wine of Holy Eucharist, become the Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity of Christ is the best!

No wonder St. John boldly announces in verse 11: This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.

Then as happens frequently in each of the four Holy Gospel accounts of Jesus’ public life, miracle is followed by forward movement as in verse 12: After this He went down to Capernaum…..and they did not stay there many days.