Sunday, January 20, 2019

Become Wine

Transformation – changing from one thing into another such as Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde or as in the Beauty and the Beast – the Beast into a Prince.  There’s water into ice.  There’s a simple wafer into the bread of life – our Eucharist.

But, in our case today, it’s water into wine or more to the point: a hateful attitude changed into one of compassion and even love.  That’s the transformation described in our Gospel story about the wedding at Cana – at least that’s one interpretation.

Helping us to understand transformation and what it can mean for us as individuals and even as communities, is a book you’ll find at the entrance to our church.   That book is by Matthew Kelly: The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity.  All have been invited to take a copy and then read it. Kelly begins with this story.

Once upon a time a successful business owner fell on hard times and his business began to fail.  He decided to invite his employees to a dinner where he would announce his plan to save the company and return it to its former glory.  He wanted everyone to understand how each man and woman was important to the company’s future success.

The morning of the dinner he began to work on his speech but he was constantly interrupted by his 7 year-old son.  His son kept telling him, “Dad, I’m bored!”

Knowing he had to entertain his son so he could finish his speech, he picked up a magazine.  He thumbed through the pages until he came to a large, brightly colored map of the world.  He ripped the picture into dozens of pieces, threw them all over the floor, and then said to his son, “If you can put the map of the world back together, I will give you $20.”

The boy quickly gathered up all the pieces; he wanted to earn that money.  His father returned to his work thinking now he had a few hours to finish because he knew his son didn’t know what the map of the world looked like.  To his surprise five minutes later his son appeared.  The young boy held up the completed map of the world.

The father said in amazement, “How did you finish it so quickly?”  The boy smiled and said, “You know Dad, I had no idea what the map of the world looked like, but as I was picking up the pieces, I noticed that on the back there was a picture of a man and woman.”

The father smiled, and his son continued, “So I put a sheet of paper down, and I put the picture of the man and woman together, because I knew what they looked like. I placed another sheet of paper on top, then holding them tightly I turned them both over.” I figured, if I got the man and the woman right, the world would be right.”

The father handed his son the $20 and said, “You’ve given me my speech for tonight. If you get the man and woman right, you get the world right.”

According to Kelly, “Transforming people – making them right – is at the heart of God’s plan for the world.”  

Another believer in needed transformation and God’s plan was Martin Luther King Jr. whose birthday we celebrate tomorrow.  He said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

We can conclude that making people right – making us right – is like turning tasteless water into rich and wine with pleasing aromas, vibrant color, and appealing taste.  Making us right means transforming us from inconsiderate, selfish, uncaring, self-absorbed people into open-minded, caring, and loving individuals.

This transformation is essential for lasting marriages and friendships, loving families, thriving businesses, extraordinary schools, and nations seeking peace and the common good for the entire planet and all people. Water must be turned into wine.  We must be transformed.

Here’s another example that pertains to all of us, especially at this time in our country's history. Rosaleen grew up in a lovely walled garden in the company of thousands of other roses, all red like herself.  She was told it was a great privilege to have been born into the Red Rose Clan with all of its rules such as no rose was ever to climb over the wall.

But as she got older she wondered what lay on the other side of the wall so one day she climbed that wall and took a peep.  She saw another walled garden similar to her own and with roses like herself in everything except color – some were pink, some white, and some yellow.

She was shocked.  After all, she had been told there was only one rose, a red rose. An elder rose then said to her, “Forget those flowers on the other side of the wall. They don’t belong to our clan. Remember this: the only true rose is a red rose.”

Try as she might, she couldn’t forget them so she climbed the wall again and began to chat with a pink rose from the other side.  Her example caught on so more and more roses from both sides began to meet and talk across the wall.

Slowly a great transformation took place.  Having come to acknowledge each other’s existence the roses gradually began to accept their differences.  And even though the wall continued to stand between them they learned to communicate with each other in spite of it.  In time they came to see themselves as members of one large family – the rose family – a family of great variety and beauty. The roses were transformed. [end of story]

Today’s barriers – today’s walls are racial, ethnic, social and religious with these divisions reflecting our separation from God.  Jesus broke down barriers. He was about being one with God.

He was about turning the waters of division into the wine of union – the union of and the love between neighbors – all brother and sisters.  Jesus commanded it.

His mother – our mother – said to the servers at the wedding in Cana: "Do whatever he tells you."  She says the same to us: “Become wine!”

Deacon David Pierce

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