Last week, as we heard the account of the Wedding at Cana, we reflected on how the inferior wine of the world runs short of our desires, and we need to go to Jesus to receive the deep joy of the good wine.
That is what we heard about in the first reading. The people, after having returned from the Babylonian Exile for over forty years, are restored to life in Jerusalem. But not until now were they fully restored, for in today's reading they receive the Torah again, and this moves them in such a deep way, awakening a part of them that had been long asleep, that it moves them to tears. The Lord offers them what their hearts were longing for – a relationship of love with Him!
Today we see a glimpse of that that good wine is: it is in experiencing the liberty that Jesus brings: the freedom from the captivity of our sins but also of all evil, especially death the greatest of evils. It is Jesus alone that restores our sight to we who were blinded and could no longer see the truth of this world clearly, who couldn't behold God face-to-face until He came to deliver us.
Just as Jesus transformed the good water into the best wine, he desires today to transform the good of our culture into a deep and abiding peace and joy that the world cannot offer. For we know that our country offers us a sense of freedom, that our culture stress a profound respect for the individual. But this is only part of the truth God wishes to offer us. The glad tidings which the Lord Jesus brings to us, the poor, transcends this, lifting it up, purifying it, and making it eternally meaningful.
This deeper meaning is found in our second reading: the Pauline image of the Body of Christ from 1 Corinthians 12. This text is absolutely required reading for any Christian, and should be central for us Catholics in understanding what it means to be part of God's family. What this passage reminds us of is two critical points that come from our Baptism into Christ: we are all important, and we are all inseparably connected.
Firstly, St. Paul essentially says, we all have different roles in the Body of Christ, and they are all important, all necessary. What would the Church be like if it were full of only priests and nuns? We'd look pretty silly, and Father wouldn't have anyone to baptize! What if the married couples all desperately desired to be priests or nuns? Then where would the holy marriages be? And don't even think of saying the maintenance people aren't needed, or you will find out real fast just how much so they are!
Secondly, we are all connected. I've been thinking of this a lot lately, with Fr. Dan's surgery, Bishop D'Arcy's cancer returning, and, for the high school where I am chaplain, four funerals for current SJHS students' fathers in the past month. Indeed, for us Catholics, when one part of the body suffers, we all suffer, because of our great love and concern for each other. We know that in this life, we share in each others' sorrows and each others' joys, because the Body of Christ is inseparably connected in Jesus, in this Eucharist.
And that is the better wine Jesus offers us. Sure, liberty is a good thing, and the individual needs to be respected. But we Christians know that the best wine is offered to us in the Communion that we have in the Body of Christ. Let us pray that we may ever more and more appreciate and live this mystery of unity that is so central to our Christian life that we re-live it every single week.