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Dear Family in Christ,

Last week we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord, when Jesus inaugurated his public ministry. The truth of his identity begins to be revealed: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am pleased” (Lk 3:22) the voice from Heaven said as the Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. A beautiful epiphany - a wondrous revelation of the divinity of Christ.

Actually, over three weeks, the Church has presented us with three epiphanies: three moments in which Christ is revealed to us in a new and profound way. These three are often connected and considered together: the visit of the Magi, the baptism of the Lord, and today - the wedding at Cana.

The first of Jesus’ signs (manifestations of divinity) in John’s Gospel is at a wedding. Pretty good to start with a party! But the nuptial reference is significant. John wants us to attend to the fact that two people are being married, yet in his retelling Jesus is the primary actor, and Mary brings the need to his attention. Jesus and Mary are in focus, not the bride and groom who exchanged vows that day and ran short on wine. Jesus saves the day, while Mary represents the faithful Church. Saint Irenaeus of Lyon perceived in this new wine, the good wine saved until the end, as a sign of the new covenant, with the New Eve and the New Adam, working in consort to undo with faithfulness what had been undone by our first parents with disobedience. Noteworthy even is the humility of both in not taking the spotlight away from the couple.

Whenever words associated with marriage and weddings appear in the Scriptures, pay close attention. In our first reading from Isaiah, The Lord speaks of himself as the bridegroom and the land of Israel as his spouse: “For the Lord delights in you and makes your land his spouse. / As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.” (Isa 62:4-5) The intimacy and the union between God and his people shines through. We witnessed last week how Titus described the mission of Jesus “to cleanse for himself a people as his own” (Titus 2:14). Redundancy adds emphasis. To think of a builder marrying his house, or the Creator of the Universe marrying his creature, is a bit out of this world!

Yet God has chosen to unite himself to us, first by taking to himself the fullness of our humanity in the incarnation: God in the flesh. Infinity and immortality somehow united with a very finite and mortal creature - the awesome theme of Christmas comes to the fore. But also, as part of his mission, Jesus makes us members of his body. We become one with Christ through Baptism; that unity is sustained and strengthened by the grace of all the Sacraments. We are blessed and united with God, a free and awesome grace, wholly unmerited by us sinners. This gift of union places a call before us. We are called to live out of this reality and to spread the love we have been given.

Paul speaks often of membership in the Body of Christ. Peter prefers to keep the building metaphor. Here is the way Peter puts it (1 Peter 2:4-5):

“Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God's sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

We can hear echoes of the builder marrying his creation, and with our faithful offering of a sacrificial life, the bridegroom rejoicing in us. This spiritual house is the Church. Our parish is the local instantiation of the church. We represent the church, in our little corner of the world. And it is our charge to build up the Body of Christ, right here. That is our mission. United with Christ, we are to continue to build up the church, above all by loving God and neighbor, while sharing the secret of our joy with the world.

Let’s embrace our mission together, to be the body of Christ and to build up the body of Christ in our little corner of the world.

In Christ,

Fr. Joel Wilson