Archbishop’s Teaching

Sunday of the Wedding at Cana John 2 / 1-11

Sunday of entry into Great Lent
Homily of His Excellency Msgr. Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

Sunday of the Wedding at Cana
John 2 / 1-11

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Jesus and his mother Mary were invited to a wedding at Cana in Galilee. It
was customary to hold a large wedding banquet where wine and food were
served to the guests. While the banquet was taking place, the wine ran out and
the situation became embarrassing for the newlyweds. When Mary became
aware of the matter, she brought the problem to Jesus. According to Jewish
custom, were six stone jars for the water of purification, each holding around
six hundred and eighty liters.
Jesus instructed the servants to fill the jars with water, then he ordered them to
fill them and present them to the banquet leader. And here is the miracle: the
water in the jars turned into a different kind of wine, better than the wine served
at the table.
Wine has many meanings in the Bible, but in general, it symbolizes joy, as
Psalm 104:15 says "wine gladdens the human heart", and Isaiah 25:6 "On this
mountain, the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a
feast of well-aged wines."
Here, in the text of the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee, we can apply the
aforementioned meaning to wine.

In this text, we find ourselves in front of a mirror that reflects the reality of
our situation. We are like the bridegroom who has procured material, earthly
wine for his wedding day, to enjoy with his guests and to feast on the day of
his wedding.
We focus our concerns on the material matters of life, and we seek to acquire
the sources of our earthly joys with excessive selfishness, so we cling to
appearances and forget the essence, but the joys of earthly life do not last, and
they quickly run out, making our life miserable and emptying it of its joy.
With the wine of material joy exhausted, Jesus intervened. Jesus orders the
servants to return to a most necessity of life, "water!"
It is as if by going back to basics, Jesus is ordering us to return to the starting
point, and to direct the compass of our lives towards another source of joy and
happiness in order to produce for us a motive for true joy, different in its
quality. From the simplest ingredients of life, he creates for us a new wine that
brings joy back to the celebration of our lives. Jesus' intervention in this
wedding comes to save man, and give him a new taste for the joys of his life.
In the light of the above, we understand why the Church chose the text of the
wedding feast of Cana to open the Lenten season. Today, the Church calls us,
with Jesus, to renounce the worldly joys and luxuries of life during the season
of Lent. She calls us to share them in charity with those around us, to offer
them as wine to guests. She calls us not to fear their exhaustion. She calls us to
return to the sources of life, to abandon luxury and appearances and embrace
the simplest elements of life, so that our fasting and abstention from joys
becomes a source of joy for our lives.
However, this serves no purpose and gives meaning to our lives only on one
condition: "that Jesus be invited to the wedding". Imagine the wedding and the
crisis experienced without the presence of Jesus! The invitation that Church
addresses to us to enter the season of Lent, the time of abandoning the wine of
material life and returning to the simplest basics of life, only makes sense if we
invite Jesus to the wedding feast of our lives and place the simple bases of our
lives in his hands.

In this blessed Lent, let us turn away from the joys of mortal life and lift our
eyes and hearts to the heights, inviting Jesus into our lives, so that when our
lives are emptied of the joys of the world, Jesus alone will overflow within us
with the abundance of his grace.

Lord Jesus, empty our hearts of the fleeting joys of the world and fill them with
your infinite love. Guide us along the path of self-denial, so that we may taste
the authentic joy you offer us.
May your grace accompany and strengthen us throughout this holy season of
Lent, so that we may be reborn to new life at Easter.

† Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

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