[aside: I wanted to thank those who put my wife’s song in yesterday’s Blog post on their facebook so that lots of people were able to enjoy; and I am grateful to all those who kindly make up for my technical deficits by putting some of my posts on their facebook, twitter, etc. Posting on wordpress is all the iComplexity I feel I can handle now.]
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This is a homily preached recently in Cana of Galilee (in Israel) by a friend of mine, Deacon Josh Johnson of the diocese of Baton Rouge, and it just seemed to me too good to not be shared.
Holy Land Pilgrimage Homily: Wedding of Cana
In our readings today, we see very clearly that things don’t always turn out the way we expect them to turn out. In philosophical circles, these experiences are called periods of disillusionment. Disillusionment is basically a feeling of disappointment when we discover that something is not as good as we expected it to be.
I think we have all experienced disillusionment at some point in our lives in regards to our friendships, relationships, discernment, and vocations. Certainly as deacons and priests, we have experienced some things in our ministries and vocations that have far exceeded what we could have ever imagined. And I think at the same time we have experienced the reality of our vocations in all of the crosses, all of the pain, and all of the suffering that comes with this calling we have received.
But the great gift of being disillusioned in our vocations is once we no longer view the other as perfect and totally ideal, once we have seen and experienced the flaws of our bride, the Church, we can finally love her for who she is: a broken and bruised bride in need of a faithful bridegroom.
This disillusionment is something that many of our parishioners deal with daily in their marriages. Three situations come to my mind as I speak about this topic. In one marriage, a young couple marries after years of discernment together, and then a few months after the marriage the husband died suddenly of a heart attack, leaving behind his newlywed wife and their unborn child. She never expected her life would turn out this way, raising a child on her own, but this is what it is and she must raise this child with her maternal love and affection. Another person I know also took his discernment very seriously when it came to his calling to the married state of life and months after his wedding his wife became seriously handicapped. The rest of his marriage with her was spent cleaning and bathing and feeding her. He never expected that his marriage would turn out this way, but he nonetheless was faithful to the bride who was entrusted to him. Finally, there is a couple who cannot conceive children, and when they finally are able to conceive, the child is born with extreme disabilities. The dad had dreams of playing baseball with his son and teaching him how to drive, and these dreams will never come true with his son’s circumstances. This isn’t what the dad planned when he felt called to marriage and family life, but this is his situation. So what does he do? Does he up and leave his wife and child? No, he loves the heck out of that child and his mother just as he would if this gift of a child would not have been born with severe disabilities.
At the Wedding of Cana, the servers did not expect that the wine would run out. But where human efforts fall short, and we must remember that all of our human efforts will fall short of perfection, God’s grace provided and His grace provided in this situation because Jesus and Mary were invited by the wedding party into their experience of being limited.
At the Institute of Priestly Formation, many of us learned a method of prayer called, “ARRR,” which means, Acknowledge, Relate, Receive, and Respond. In this form of prayer, one acknowledges his thoughts, feelings, and desires, relates them to our Lord, spends time in silence to receive from our Lord, and then responds to whatever he received in prayer. In a certain sense, this is what we can imagine happened at the Wedding of Cana. The servants acknowledged their issue which was a lack of wine, they related it to our lady, and she brought the issue to the attention of Jesus. Next the servants received the message from our Lady which was to do whatever Jesus tells them to do, and finally they responded to this message by obeying the command of Jesus to fill the jars with water. They could have said, “No, Jesus, we don’t need jugs of water, we need jugs of wine.” But they nonetheless obeyed Him, even filling the jugs to the brim with water, and look what happened! His first miracle!
In our lives, if we do what Jesus tells us to do through our superiors in our vocations; He will always come through for us as well. Let’s be honest, life will give us many difficulties, prayer will be very difficult at times, our ministries will be difficult, our community or lack thereof will be difficult, our parishioners themselves will be difficult! But just because we find hardships and difficulties in our vocations, does not mean that it is okay to give up. This simply means that we cannot solely rely on ourselves to persevere in our vocations and callings to be faithful priests! This means that we, like the servants at the Wedding of Cana, must always invite our Lady and Lord into our struggles and limitations and rely less on ourselves to get through our situations and more on the grace of God, so we too can experience Him transforming the messiness in our lives into His miracles.