Three days before my wedding...I went down to the restaurant where we were holding our reception to check on some items that I had brought down there for safe keeping just a few days ago. Some picture frames of family weddings that we were going to place around the room. A pair of bride and groom stuffed animals--elephants to be precise. And of course no wedding is complete without favors--and so Mike and Marion had M&M’s wrapped in tewel bags as our wedding favors.
All the plans were in place. Things were moving nicely...except when we got to the restaurant the manager asked to speak to Marion and I “in the back.” Anytime someone asks to speak to you “in the back” that’s never a good sign.
And this was no different. Somebody stole our stuffed animals and an expensive picture frame. And the piece-de-resistance the restaurant had stored our M&M’s n a cabinet and that cabinet had been infested by ANTS who found their way into our chocolate treats! And therefore now the restaurant was crawling with ants as well.
What a mess...
My wedding was a mess - Here’s another mess,
Isaiah has been saying that it’s going to be sunshine and rainbows in Jerusalem--but when the people return back from the exile--it’s a mess.
But Isaiah is not going to budge.. and he predicts now that it will be even better than they imagined. He even says that he won’t shut up until the day that Jerusalem will be the crown jewel of God’s kingdom. That God will rejoice over Jerusalem like a groom rejoices in a bride.
And if that isn’t enough we’ve got another mess...They run out of wine at a wedding. It may not be ants in the chocolate--but it’s still a mess. And we all know what kind of messes weddings can turn out to be. Your aunt says something stupid, your uncle gets drunk, your sister is jealous and can’t stand the bridesmaid dress you picked out and is snotty all day.
So in this case...the wine runs out and when the wine runs out...it’s a big problem because the whole wedding is now at risk. One of the families didn’t take care of things. So the whole thing just might be called off. Imagine a broken hearted bride and a family embarrassed. A fight could break out between the two families, an aunt might say something stupid, an uncle might get drunk and a sister might just get fed up because she’s been in that ugly dress for 3 days day and she’s the one who deserves to be getting married anyway. Ugh, what a mess, what a mess, what a mess.
So Mary sees all this and asks Jesus to intervene as she knows that he could. She looks to Jesus and interestingly asks him to perform his first sign not for her, but to help out someone else.
And Jesus’ response “My hour has not yet come” may very well mean “oh so you think you have problems?” Because let’s face it...Jesus knows that this little family squabble is the least of his problems and the least of this couple’s problems. Life is often a mess. Marriage is often a mess. Human experience indeed is messy.
But because Mary asks and more importantly, because Mary has faith in her son, Jesus changes the ordinary water into choice wine. In fact, there is more than enough--at least 120 gallons--the scripture tells us.
So what does this mean for us? Well... life is no less messy today and we need to turn to Jesus and have the faith that He can indeed turn it around. In fact, when you think about it we do this all the time, even unconsciously, because we’re so confident that our lives will be messy that we turn to this church each week and turn not only wine but bread into God’s body and blood so that we might become what it is that we receive. So that when we leave this building, we might experience Jesus working within us--giving us the strength to turn the mess into joy. When we believe that the turning power of Jesus can indeed change the world--well, that’s when the party can start.
Anyone who’s done a mission trip knows exactly what I’m talking about. Because when we are willing to sweat drops of water for others--we become drunk with passion for those we serve. We help others to turn it all around, to be in the mess of their lives, even if for a moment and then become enraptured with concern for those we serve.
And when we experience the “turning power” of God working in the world, we always have more than enough. And we all have more than enough gifts--St Paul tells today that all of our gifts are important--no matter how different they are from one another.
Our gifts are all good enough for God. But we often don’t believe that. And I’m here to tell you that even when you think that you are a mess...that you’re a sinner, or a bad Catholic, or not good enough--that God is telling you that you are choice wine--the overflowing gift of Jesus to the world. You are more than enough. You are more than gifted.
This semester I’d like you to not only believe that you are gifted but also to share that gift with the world--to heal the world of its own mess.
How? One easy way: Haiti. This week we have heard a lot about Haiti and the earthquake that destroyed an already poor country--in fact, the poorest in the Western hemisphere where 80% of the people live on less than $1/day.
We don’t take up a collection at this mass, but I want to ask if we can be enough for the people of Haiti. Just $1/day, $365/year is often what people live on in this poor country. We usually have more than that to spare. People lived in the garbage dump before the quake hit their country and I shudder to think what a mess their country is in today. Our leaders both political and religious have asked that we take up a special collection for the needs of Haiti tonight. If you have your cell phone and perhaps you’ve already done this --take them out right now and text HAITI to 90999 that will send $10 to the Red Cross disaster relief fund or if you’d prefer, drop some money in the basket. And if you really can’t afford a $1 or $10--pray for the people of Haiti tonight because that’s a gift too--and it is no less important than giving your dollars.
Secondly. I’d like to ask you to do one more thing: Ask yourself what is your gift? What do you have to offer this church and this campus ministry? We need your gifts and talents and while we’re all busy and tied up with our own studies and activities--can we think of just one thing that we can be involved in here? It might be reading or being a eucharistic minister. It might be going on our retreat or our alternative spring break. It might be working on one of our service initiatives or simply taking an interest in learning more about your faith. We’re not just running a Newman Center but we are thinking about what ways can you turn an ordinary semester of water into a party-filled semester of wine.
Whatever it is--pick at least one thing to get involved in this year and I promise to help you use your gifts for the good of this community and for your own spiritual enrichment. Because that’s my gift--ministering to the needs of students. You’ll get a listing of events tonight that our student leaders who have recognized their gifts have put together for you to get involved in as well.
For when we turn water into wine--we experience God in our life just as he experiences us. It is our gifts that we share with the world that allow us to be a sign to the world that we believe that with God’s help we can indeed change the world. That while disasters strike all around us on many different levels. Ants in the chocolate, a crazy aunt, no wine at the wedding, an earthquake...our God can turn it all around.
And when we let ourselves be turned--when our water of our sweat makes us drunk with passion...we can rebuild the city that will be a crown jewel once again--be it Haiti, Jerusalem or Buffalo. When we are turned, we realize our gifts are more important than our sins. When we are turned we are like a groom and a bride who realize that their wedding day is not the stuff of ant ridden chocolate candy but is only about an overflowing commitment to one another.
When we are turned ...We become Jesus...and that is more than enough for all of us.
Your humble blogger is Mike Hayes, a well-known expert in the world of young adult ministry (20s and 30s) in the Catholic Church. Mike is the author of Googling God (Paulist, 2007) where he explores both the chaotic world that young people live in and their religious reactions to that world. He also explores the age of instant gratification and how churches can respond to the needs of the young adult age by using technology alongside more traditional ministry methods.
Mike founded the award winning BustedHalo.com® in 2001 and continues to contribute to it as the editor of their catechetical section appropriately named Googling God.
Recently, he left BustedHalo® to focus on more direct ministry with young people at St Joseph University Parish as a Campus Minister for the South Campus at the University at Buffalo.
He has only two loves: his adorable wife, Marion and a nine pound chihuahua named Haze, who still find him amusing enough to let them live in their home.