If you could change something about yourself, what would it be?
If you could change something about your family, what would it be?
If you could change something about this parish, what would it be?
If you could change something about our country, what would it be?
If you could change something about our world, what would it be?
I ask these questions because of today’s gospel. Today’s gospel has to do with transformation, with change, Jesus changed water into wine. This was Jesus’ first miracle in the gospel of John. It was a signal of what Jesus’ ministry was to be about. He was to bring about transformation, change.
For instance, Jesus changed some of the rules for living. The old rule was “Love your neighbor, but hate your enemy.” Jesus changed that to, “Love your enemy, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Some thought that perhaps they should forgive seven times. Jesus said, “No, seven times seventy-times. Unlimited mercy.” (Cf. Matthew 18:22)
The old thinking was, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” Jesus said, “No, turn the other cheek. No violence.” (Cf. Matthew 5:39)
Jesus changed not only rules. He changed people.
Zacchaeus was a rich tax collector. And because of that he was probably a very lonely man. Jesus could have ignored him as he went through Jericho. But Jesus instead took the time to dine with him. In one translation Zacchaeus proclaims that he will give half his goods to the poor. He was transformed by the very presence of Jesus in his home. (Cf. Luke 19:1-10)
The Centurion on Calvary… He was one of those who killed Jesus. But when it was all over, he proclaimed. “Truly this man was the Son of God”(Mark 15:39). I think that when he saw the forgiving heart of Jesus, he was transformed into a man of faith.
Peter, Andrew, James, John… Uneducated fishermen. It took three years, but Jesus transformed them into bold, eloquent apostles.
And Saul… At one time he was persecuting the early Christians. Then he was knocked to the ground, and Jesus said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts9:4).Saul was soon transformed into Paul, the dynamic preacher, writer, the “Apostles to the Gentiles.”
Is there any thinking in our lives that needs to be changed? Is there any behavior in our lives that needs to be transformed?
What opens our minds and hearts to change, to growth, to transformation is humility, realizing how small we are in time and space, how limited we are in ability. But then how powerful we are if we, as branches, are connected to the vine.
Jesus says, “I am the vine you, are the branches. The one who abides in me and I in him, that one bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing”(John 15:5). In fact St. Paul learned and proclaimed, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Jesus came to transform:
-- our negative thinking in positive dreaming.
-- our lack of hope into great expectations.
-- our lack of courage into bold action.
In fact, in God’s plan we, the followers of Jesus, are empowered go forth and -- turn water into wine:
The water of darkness into the wine of light.
The water of unfairness into the wine of justice.
The water of loneliness into the wine of friendship.
The water of pain into the wine of compassion.
The water of turmoil into the wine of peace.
The water of tears into the wine of laughter.
We come here to Mass each week to be transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ. If we listen to Jesus’ words, remain in him as branches on the vine, and open ourselves to receive the gifts of the Spirit, then Jesus’ work of transformation, which began at Cana, will continue today through us.
And then God will be pleased with us. To quote from our first reading today from the prophet Isaiah, “As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you” (Isaiah 62:5).