Homily – Sunday 20th Jan 2018


When I go to have my hair cut – or when I meet up with some non-Church friend or acquaintance – one of the favourite gambits people use for opening up a conversation seems so often to be ‘Have you got a lot of weddings this year’?  ‘Do you have many weddings at your church’ or something of the kind.  And along with that comes very often a comment along the lines of ‘Doing Weddings must be one of the best parts of your job’.

Clearly, a lot of people just do not know how few Church Weddings take place nowadays.  But what is clear is that in the eyes of so many, there is something heart-warming about Weddings – or, to put it another way, Weddings cheer us up and renew our sense of hopefulness – they give us cause for hope, they make us feel more positive about the future.

First of all, at a Wedding, we are likely to have high hopes for the couple – we are in some measure probably caught up in the high hopes they have of what life will be like for themselves.  They have a vision of how good things are going to be – and we find ourselves quite likely caught up in their vision of happiness.

There is also something that can be quite contagious about the trust the couple have in each other – their awareness of each other’s unique value – and that can be quite a challenge to us to be more positive, more hopeful in the way we see and relate to others.

Then there is the Wedding Breakfast, the meal after the Church ceremony:  the food,  the wine, the Champagne (if you are lucky) – an excuse for a bit of extravagance,  a chance to realise that life is good and a cause for hoping that ultimately there is more to life than just doggedly getting by and keeping one’s bank balance in the black.

I think it is important to hold all these thoughts in mind when we reflect on today’s Gospel.  We need to see how significant it is that Jesus first makes known his divine, miraculous powers at a Wedding.  As St John says, this was the first of the ‘signs’ Jesus gave to show himself to be the Divine Son of God.  And then there is the fact that Jesus is present at this hope-filled occasion; the Divine Son of God smiles on the hopefulness of the bride and groom – and by changing the water into wine, he ensures that everyone can celebrate the occasion with due extravagance – forget their troubles – and in fact allow hope to have the last word.

If we bear all this in mind, we can perhaps see how this Gospel of the Wedding at Cana in Galilee is an extraordinarily appropriate Gospel to have read on the Sunday in the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity.  Only by the gift and grace of hope can we dare to persevere in praying that all Christians may be one.  In our day, so much seems to be stacked against the fulfilment of Jesus’ prayer ‘That they all may be one’.

Often nowadays we have to work quite hard to sustain the friendships we have with  those of other traditions – we have to be willing to put ourselves out when there is an opportunity to join in prayer or in action with other Christians – we have to dare to ‘speak the truth in love’ when what we say seems often not to register with others – all of this is only possible if we keep our eyes fixed on Christ, the one source of hope, and day by day ‘lift up our hearts’ to him