Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Triple Mystery

Behold a triple mystery: The wise men come with precious gifts; Christ comes to the waters of Jordan; and water is changed into wine.

- Epiphanytide Antiphon on the Magnificat at Evening Prayer

This Sunday completes the three-fold set of Theophanies or manifestations of Christ’s divine nature which begin this season in the Liturgical Year. The above antiphon neatly places them together, each one telling us in a different way the marvelous news that God has come into the world to redeem it.

This “season of Theophanies” has several themes: the showing forth of Christ’s divinity, the message of salvation going out into the Gentile world, the importance of our ministries in delivering the Gospel to near hearers, and the great spiritual significance of created matter.

This Sunday we read the Gospel account of Christ’s first miracle at the wedding feast of Cana in John 2 (the only time in the three-year cycle we do so, sadly). Here we learn once again that God chooses to show his redeeming power and love through material things (weddings, water-pots, water & wine). Among other things, we see the power of faithful intercession (Mary’s words to Christ and the servants), and the fact that “only the servants” know how it is that God can turn the ordinary stuff of life into the extraordinary gift of God.

As we say farewell to this time of the “triple mystery,” we are bidden in the Collect to “shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory,” something that is far more attractive and interesting to the world at large than cleverly-devised ad campaigns or door-prizes for lucky contestants.

Perhaps we all need to journey to Cana once again, being careful to note that the miracle of changing water into wine was not just an action lost in history. It is something that continues in myriad ways in the authentic Church today, where stony hearts are softened and clinched fists are made into loving hands of service.

Behold, a mystery most profound!