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The Second Sunday after Epiphany

David Phillips

Holy Communion

Petite Riviere, Cherry Hill, LaHave, Vogler’s Cove, January 14, 2007

Romans 12:6-16      John 2:1-11

 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee;

and the mother of Jesus was there:  And both Jesus was called,

and his disciples, to the marriage.


In Epiphany season we have brought before us in our readings the revealing or manifestation of God in Jesus Christ.  And we do this as we follow along Jesus’ earthly life – an infant receiving kings, last week as a child in the Temple and today as an adult performing his first miracle.  As we come to know Jesus, we come to know his perfect humanity – and then we come to know Him as fully God.  And as each of us receive Jesus there becomes possible an epiphany or manifestation of God in of us.


At Christmas we began to know God in the infant Jesus – the divine Son of God – who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, the born of the Virgin Mary – Jesus, who makes possible our new birth as sons and daughters of God by adoption and grace.  And so, says St. Paul, thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God, through Christ.  The quality of our relation to God changes.  There is a new confidence in our status as children.  The quality of our love is transformed – we have a new loyalty to God, a filial piety, our obedience is not merely out of duty but out of love, and we become heirs of the divine promises.


But you and I know that in earthly love, there is an element in our parents love and our love for our parents that is still missing.  We begin to know this in our teens.  The Christian fulfillment of that love is marriage.  There is a different kind of intensity of love, a complementary love, expressed in bodily union, that is different in its quality than filial piety.  I’m speaking of eros, of romantic love, and I have to say something about it because I’ve just been to a seminar on Dante’s Divine Comedy! 


We all know something of this love and its intensity as we become adults – the infatuation, a continual thinking upon the beloved, the joy and perhaps terror of being in the loved one’s presence, a warming of the heart to a fiery love, inspiring one to virtue, we want to be and are inspired by love to become better people in the presence of our beloved.  There is a response of hope in the soul when the beloved looks upon us, we exist (!), and of joy when the beloved returns a smile - that we are found pleasing in the beloved's sight. 


We first came to understand our love for God as our heavenly Father – bringing a certain confidence, making us dutiful, loyal, obedient for all the right reasons.  Last week we met Christ in the Temple as an adolescent – being about His Father’s business.  But then, how do we deal with this apparently more intense love between adults, between a man and a woman?  Doesn’t this love, eros, seem greater than the other – and if so, is this where we should direct our attention? is there any relation between this love and the love of God?


Our Gospel today is about a marriage: 

St. John says, AND the third day (also the day of our Lord’s resurrection) there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there.  And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 


In the Old Testament, there is a progressive revelation of the character of the love of God for us and the character of that love returned by a faithful soul.  We see eros explicitly for the first time perhaps in the wisdom books.  The Song of Songs appears at first as erotic love poetry celebrating earthly love between a man and a woman because the word “God” is never used – yet Jewish interpreters and the whole Christian tradition have always understood it as pointing to the love between God and the human soul.  In another of the wisdom books, Solomon is described as taking Lady Wisdom, a feminine image of the Son, as his bride (Wisdom of Solomon 7-8).  And God speaks frequently through the Prophets describing His love of Israel, his people, in the language of bridegroom and bride [e.g. Isa 54; Jer 3; Ezek 16, Hosea] - idolatry is sometimes described as adultery.  The Messianic age promises the bringing about of this union of God and His people, a union of the heavenly and the earthly, a marriage.


Jesus reveals right at the beginning of his earthly ministry, by this first miracle at the marriage at Cana, that He is the Messiah and that the Messianic Age is upon us. 


The character of our love for God is transformed by our encounter with, by our being mystically joined to Christ, to divine Wisdom.  Our love for God has a new character through Christ – there is a warming of our hearts, an infatuation, a continual thinking upon and enjoying being in God’s presence.  The peace that passes between spouses who love each other, the rest that they know in their love for one another, this peace can be known by us and is intended to be known by us in our union with God and enjoyed.  The earthly love between spouses is a great gift in itself, it also points to the character of the heavenly.  Through Christ there is a union of the heavenly and the earthly.



The fruit of this union, this mystical marriage, is the adorning of our souls with grace – natural gifts become supernatural - water becoming the best wine.


St. Paul says in today’s Epistle: Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.


Through our marriage union with the divine, in Christ, our natural gifts are raised up.  St. Paul says, if we have the natural gift of foresight, or of ministry, or of teaching, or of leadership, or a generous spirit – all of these things can become moments through which the divine love is manifested in the world. 


It is not just in great moments of inspiration – poetry such as Dante’s Divine Comedy remembered 700 years later or some other great work of art or science that is never forgotten.  But in small things the divine is revealed in us and to the world:  a mother taking delight in her child’s play [Williams]; St. Paul says, simply being humble before others in our daily lives; a moment by moment turning from evil and cleaving to what is good; doing our chosen work, but doing it with diligence; being patient in the midst of suffering is a sign of the divine at work in us; being given to hospitality; loving even those who hate us.  We can all do these things, these supernatural things, through our union with Christ.


Every situation, every encounter with another becomes a moment when the divine can shine forth – as it did that day in Cana, when a lack of wine – a possible embarrassment for the host, or a reason for less joy in the celebration of an earthly marriage – became a moment filled with eternal significance.


What makes possible this new union of heaven and earth is recalled and set before our eyes in the Holy Communion – Christ’s passion and death, poured out in abundance in a figure on that wedding day, is poured out for each one of us here Sunday by Sunday – Christ’s Body broken, His Blood shed – the best wine.  Here is the means given by our Lord for the reconciliation of heavenly and earthly loves, from here flows the peace that passes all understanding. 

Almighty and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

[The Collect of the day]



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