Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Where is God
The question of God's presence may be answered in a variety of ways - there is the catechism answer "God is everywhere"; there is the visible presence of God in the person of Christ perpetuated for us in the sacramental presence in the Eucharist; and then there is the indwelling presence of God in each person through the Holy Spirit. Today's readings touch on this question of God's presence in and around and through us.

Isaiah 62:1-5 - After their return from exile, the Chosen People were devastated. Their culture had been destroyed. The fact that they started again stemmed from their deep-seated Faith that God was with them, a presence that the Prophet likened to the union of marriage where husband and wife are there for each other.

1 Cor. 12:4-11 - St. Paul makes the point that God is present in people in a variety of vocations. Each person recognises his or her individual call and, by responding to it positively , reflects God's presence to the community by that response.

St. John 2:1-12 - In the story of the first miracle at Cana, we can identify the steps by which God's presence is enacted on that occasion. Firstly, there is the request to Jesus by His mother; then there is Mary's instruction to the servants to do as He asks; the servants obey Jesus, and the miraculous transformation occurs.

Point 1:  It is fashionable these days to be pessimistic about religion, the future of the Church, the relevance of Christianity. People point to the down turn in vocations to the religious life, the break down in family life, the drop off in church attendances and the weakening of people's faith as divisions appear within the community. It is moments like this that, like the Israelites of old, we recall Christ's assurance that "I am with you always, even to the end of time". We should never underestimate the power of Jesus to transform situations and people.

Point 2: Today's readings emphasise this. On returning to Jerusalem after their long exile, the Chosen People were bereft. The centre of their culture, the temple, was a ruin; their history fragmented. However they responded to the challenge and drew heavily on the assurance that it was their vocation to make known the One, True God, Yahweh. The Corinthian community, too, was in trouble. Divisions had appeared over who best revealed the presence of God. St. Paul buys into the argument and clears the air by assuring each group that there are separate callings for different people, all of which reveal God's presence. However, it is in the gospel that we can identify the steps to be taken to make God's presence real. Here in this first miracle of His public ministry, Christ shows His power to transform. It is a power, however, that can only operate with the consent and the co-operation of those concerned.

Conclusion: Let us look at how it worked at Cana - Mary initiates the action with her request -"They have no wine". Despite the apparent rebuke by Christ, she knew Him well enough to say to the servants "Do as He says". The rest of the story depends on the servants' acceptance of that advice. Without question, they did as Christ asked. They drew off some water and then, brought it to the stewards. As a result the glory of Jesus is seen. The Apostles saw this wonder; and they believed in Him. As a result of their acceptance, God has become present in the hearts and minds of millions. The same miracle of transformation occurs daily and will continue to do so where each wants to experience God's presence; looks for the particular calling that has been given to him or her and is ready, with God's help, to obey that call.

Scriptural reference:[2 Cor 2:17] For we are not peddlers of God's word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.