THE LANGUAGE OF GESTURES
The evangelist John does not say that Jesus did “miracles” or “wonders.” He calls them “signs,” because they are gestures that point toward something deeper than what our eyes can see. Concretely the signs that Jesus performs point to his person and reveal to us his saving power.
What happened in Cana of Galilee is the beginning of all these signs. It is the prototype of the signs that Jesus will be performing throughout his life. Provided to us in this “transformation of water into wine” is the key to understand the type of saving transformation Jesus works and the type that his followers must offer in his name.
Everything takes place in the context of a wedding feast, the human feast par excellence, the most expressive symbol of love, the best image from the biblical tradition to express God’s definitive communion with human beings. Jesus’ salvation must be lived and offered by his followers as a celebration that gives fullness to all human celebrations when these end up empty, without wine and without the capacity to fill our desire for complete happiness.
The story suggests something more. The water can only be tasted as wine when, in accordance with Jesus’ command, it is drawn out of six large stone water jars used by the Jews for their purifications. The religion of the law that is written on stone tablets is worn out; there is no water capable of purifying human beings. That religion needs to be freed by the love and the life that Jesus communicates.
One cannot evangelize in just any way. In order to communicate the transforming power of Jesus, words are not enough; gestures are needed. Evangelization is not just talking, preaching or teaching; much less is it judging, threatening or condemning. It is necessary to actualize, with creative fidelity, the signs Jesus was making to bring in God’s joy by making the hard life of those peasants more joyous.
The word of the Church leaves many of our contemporaries indifferent. Our celebrations bore them. They need to know closer and more friendly signs on the part of the Church in order to discover in Christians Jesus’ capacity to alleviate the suffering and the harshness of life.
Who today will listen to something that no longer presents itself as joyful news, especially if the Gospel gets invoked with an authoritarian and threatening tone? Many of us expect Jesus Christ to be someone who gives us power and reason to live, someone who shows us a way to live more wisely and joyfully. If people only know a “watered-down religion” and they cannot savor some of Jesus’ festive and contagious joy, many will continue to drift away.
January 17, 2016
2 Sunday in O.T. (C)
John 2, 1-12