A Word about the Readings
by Father Gethin
(The readings may be found here)
The season of Epiphany presents us with an unfolding account of our Lord’s character and identity, so that we may come to know more and more clearly the meaning of His Incarnation, the meaning of Emmanuel, of ‘God with us’. First, in the visitation of the wise men, we see how the Messiah is God’s gift of Himself, not just to a particular people under particular conditions, but to all people, and in every circumstance. For Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free, the mercy of God in the work of salvation is unlimited, and perfectly gracious. Then, in the story of the young Jesus in the temple we see how Christ is perfectly humble and obedient to the will of the Father, taking no divine power or wisdom for Himself, but consecrating His own life as holy, by the offering of Himself to fulfill the Father’s love for us. Likewise, in the baptism of our Lord, we see how His humility and obedience are the substance of the Father’s love and favour for Him—“this is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased”—and also, as a consequence, the Father’s investment of all divine authority in Christ—“Listen to Him.”
All this is presented once again, for us to see in a new way, the way of Christ’s earthly will and action, in the story of His first miracle, changing water into wine, in today’s Gospel. It seems at first such a frivolous story, and even verging on the disorderly—it was a truly vast amount of wine—but if we consider closely, we see the same pattern emerging, of Jesus’ Messianic character: His humility and obedience to the Father (“my hour is not yet come”); His openness to all people, in all circumstance (He was a guest at the party, not the host); and His unlimited grace and mercy, providing a gift so much better and beyond the hopes and expectations of even His mother, whose prayer He answered. And finally, in the miracle itself, we see the real authority of divine wisdom and power expressed in perfect freedom accomplishing its good purpose, according to the Father’s blessing. Nature itself listens, and is subject to Him, and by His gracious Word, is made sweeter. Beholding the wonderful event, His friends were moved to a new, and deeper faith, that this, indeed, is God’s beloved Son.
So it is to be with us: as we behold the vision of our Lord’s Incarnate life and person, we are to be moved to a deeper faith, a deeper conviction that His appearing is for the establishment of a new life and goodness in us and among us. To that life, St. Paul reminds, we are all called as His followers, and in our epistle we have a wonderful reminder of what that life should be: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love…serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” And so we find that as we continue faithful in our discipleship, we too, are more and more revealed as bearing the character of the Master.