Masterpiece Wk 3: Three Manifestations

Masterpiece Wk 3: Three Manifestations

Today’s Gospel story of the wedding feast at Cana follows well upon the gospel stories of the past two Sundays. Today and the last two Sundays describe three different manifestations of Jesus which tell us more about who Jesus is.

Two weeks ago we celebrated the Epiphany of the Lord, in which Jesus’ divinity was made manifest to the world through the adoration of the Magi who adored him as divine Lord and King. The magi, who are from a foreign land, also manifest that Jesus did not only come for the Jewish people but all people. As a manifestation of God, Jesus is a masterpiece of art, God’s self portrait, if you will. That is, Jesus shows us who God is by his words and actions.

Last week we saw the divinity of Jesus manifested in his baptism in the Jordan River, as God the Father spoke aloud from Heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” We also spoke about how through the blessing of our baptism, God is trying to shape us into one of his masterpieces.

Today we see this theme of the manifestation of Jesus’ divinity continue as he performs his first public miracle: changing water into wine at a wedding feast in the village of Cana. The bible calls this the first of his signs. Signs are proof of Jesus’ claim to be from God and are stimulants to the people’s faith. The bible says when Jesus performed this sign of his divinity, he revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him. Jesus’ disciples were those with whom he was developing a relationship. He wanted the best for his disciples and did his best to show them how they were each like a painting in the process of being painted, a masterpiece in the making, as God, the master painter, was painting their lives.

For the last three weeks we have been discussing how God is a master artist and wants you to be one of his masterpieces. The better our relationship with Jesus, the better God can shape us into his masterpiece because, when we have a solid relationship with Jesus, we are in communion with God, like Jesus was, and is. Jesus uses a wedding to demonstrate the close relationship he and our Father in heaven want with us, so close that we are in communion with him.

Throughout the Bible, the wedding feast is the great symbol of the communion God wants to have with us. Just as a groom is deeply in love with his bride, so God is deeply in love with you. The prophet Isaiah speaks beautifully to this in today’s first reading. He writes: “As a young man marries a virgin, your builder shall marry you;” God is that builder. Isaiah continues, saying: “and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you.” Let’s take a look at how Jesus uses two things from the wedding celebration, the water and the empty stone jars, to show how much God loves us and what he wants to do for us.

The miracle Jesus performs at the wedding feast in Cana is, as the Gospel says, a “sign”, an announcement that Jesus has come to change the very nature of human existence. He’s come to take the “water” of our life and change it into “wine.” He’s come to take what is ordinary, limited, and passing in us and transform it into something extraordinary, entirely new, and lasting.

For a while yet, pain, upset, sin and dying remain a part of our lives, but not the defining part. Even as we die, our loving Father has the power and the will to recreate us and to bring us to life on an entirely new plain – one we’ve never seen or imagined – forever. And he will work that transformation in us, if we work with him, if we give him the “water,” just as the wine stewards did in the Gospel. We have to give him the water which is our lives. That’s what he’s telling us with this miracle: Water into wine; sadness into joy; death into life – forever. That is God’s promise, and he’s given us nothing less than Jesus’ own rising from the grave as the guarantee we can trust his promise.
But maybe you are feeling down and unworthy, feeling empty. All right then.

Most of us know about emptiness. It takes many forms: · The emptiness after the Christmas tree comes down and all the carols are finally silent. · The emptiness after a funeral when all our friends have gone home. · The emptiness of a house without love. · The emptiness of a life without purpose. · The emptiness of betrayal. · The emptiness of dead hopes and lost dreams.

The anguish of emptiness comes to us all, sooner or later. And it can pierce us to the core of our soul.

Those massive, empty stone jars at the wedding feast of Cana stand for all the aching empty places in our lives, and all of our longings for something more. Those empty stone jars are about you and me.

Jesus spoke into that emptiness, and into our longings, with a deed whose meaning could not be mistaken. He filled those empty jars with the choicest of wines, and in doing so, he promised that we will be filled with joy, which is God’s joy to give – joy that will never end. For those whose hearts are ready to receive it, that joy can begin now, and grow mightily into the hereafter.

That’s what Jesus says. But, is it really possible? Will it actually happen? Dare we trust it? Look around you. See the many masterpieces God is creating. Take a flower in your hand. Look at the sky full of stars and planets beyond numbering. Examine the tiny fingers of a newborn child. Can the one who made all that, by simply willing it to be, fail to fill you full – you, and me, who are so small, and yet, so precious, masterpieces in the making?

That-we-be-full, is God’s desire. Will we frustrate God’s desire? That may be happening. Some of us are empty and sad at this moment because we have let it be so. Let that end now. Open your eyes and start seeing what God sees. See what’s getting in the way of living and loving as you’re intended to live and love. What is keeping you from being the masterpiece God intended. Name what’s getting in the way, claim it, and let Jesus help you with it. Let him empower you.

Open your heart, so the miracle can hap­pen, and you will be empty no more. The Lord will transform your emptiness, and recreate all you are into his masterpiece.

We mentioned three manifestations of Jesus today, Epiphany, Jesus’ Baptism, and this Wedding at Cana. Jesus’ life is progressively revealed through each manifestation. With each one, we know something more about him. God works in our lives progressively as well, making us who he desires us to be. As he does, God reveals more of who we are as we cooperate with him.

If you look back on your life, you will see how God also reveals himself to you, progressively, in the pattern of your life. Can you see that? When you do, share a bit of your faith journey with your family or friends, so that they too will see God in those patterns of their lives, and see how God is helping them, and you, to become his masterpiece.