“Wine” offered now prepares us for eternal banquet
By Father Timothy Hepner
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time/Jan. 17
Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 96:1-2,2-3,7-8,9-10; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-11
The first great work of Jesus’ public ministry was the act of the Jewish bridegroom, whose job it is to provide wine for the wedding as Grant Pitre explains in his book, “Jesus the Bridegroom.” Another book that mentions wine is “Praying Scripture for a Change” by Timothy Gray, which describes the process of lectio divina as savoring the good wine God gives us by meditating on Scripture. When we meditate on this Sunday’s readings, we begin to taste God’s desire for mystical union with us.
Jesus, the Bridegroom, offers us the richest, most abundant wine: the divine life of the Trinity. As he gave his life for us on the cross, he said, “It is consummated.” And after he died, a soldier pierced his heart causing blood and water to flow out. This was the “hour” of Christ’s passion that he alludes to in today’s Gospel, in which he is preparing to pour graces into our souls straight from his Sacred Heart. He wants to make us his “delight,” as we hear prophesied in the first reading: “as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.” Mary, who is the perfect “yes” to Christ’s invitation to mystical union, intercedes and enables us to participate in this divine life.
Many see Christianity as simply a moral system, or a means for avoiding hell. But our faith, like the abundance of good new wine, infinitely surpasses these human descriptions. It is, rather, an intimate union: the Blessed Trinity living within us, enlightening our souls with faith, strengthening our wills, and loving others in and through us. It is a life-giving union, since God’s presence overflows in us into the gifts of the Spirit described in the second reading.
UNION WITH GOD
This union respects our human freedom. And like a good marriage, everything is shared: we give our human faculties to God, and he gives his life and grace to us. This requires silence, patience, and even suffering. It requires courage and the willingness to grow in virtue and continually start over again. Above all, it requires daily mental prayer, which St. Teresa of Avila defines as “an intimate sharing between friends” and “taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.”
Like the saints, we are called to the depths of mystical union with God here and now. To disbelieve this is to deny the core of our faith.
Like all true love, it requires great effort — like those servants dragging heavy stone jars. But how can our efforts compete with those of Jesus the Bridegroom, who endured torture, humiliation, and death for us? How can we ignore his outstretched arms and open pierced heart? How much effort do we give to prayer, reading Scriptures, and meditating on them each day? How often do we share our thoughts, feelings, and desires with Him and open ourselves to receive his grace and savor the rich wine he pours out for our souls?
This is the intimate sharing that St. Teresa speaks of, and it is practice for heaven. Begin to taste this good wine now, and you will drink it forever in the eternal wedding feast.
FATHER TIMOTHY Hepner is vocation director of recruitment for the Diocese of Peoria. To learn more about vocations, visit the website for the Office of Priestly Vocations or follow the office on Facebook.