Homily for January 20

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Homily for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass

(There are three musical moments in my homily which you can hear on the audio above)

Because I often use props in my homilies
you might be wondering if I’m going to pull out a jug of water
and change it into wine.
Changing water into wine is something above my pay grade.
Besides which, I have a hard enough time
changing the person I am into the person I want to be -
even though I know that’s exactly what GOD is helping me to do,
helping me become the person I was created to be,
the person I’m called to be.

This reminds me of a song we sometimes sing at mass:
Take, O take me as I am.  Summon out what I shall be.
Set your seal upon my heart and live in me.

Like a fine wine, this song pairs so well with what Jesus did
at the wedding reception in Cana.
He took what they had, water, just as it was,
the simplest of substances: nothing fancy; just basic; H2O.
But he summoned out of the water
something fine, sweet, deep and rich.
He took something just as it was,
set the seal of his power upon it and brought forth from it
more than anyone could have imagined.

This miracle, of course, reveals who Jesus is: the Lord.
So, if he can change water into wine,
might he not change our hearts and change our lives?
I’m sure we all would love to have been there
to see Jesus change water into wine
but the change we really need to see Jesus make
is a change of heart within ourselves.

Just as Jesus took the water at the wedding
so he takes us, you and me, just as we are.
Take, O take me as I am.  Summon out what I shall be.
Set your seal upon my heart and live in me.

He starts with the simple, the basic, the ordinary:
you and me, just as we are. 
Then he summons out what we shall be,
what we are created to be, what he calls us to be.

The difference between us
and the jars of water at the wedding is this:
we can choose to resist the change.
The water in those jars had no choice - you and I do.
I can hold on to my old self, my unchanged self,
the self I’ve become comfortable and satisfied with,
the self I’ve learned to live with.
I can hold tight within myself  to
whatever it might be that the Lord wants to summon out,
whatever changes the Lord wants to make in me,
whatever changes the Lord wants me to make in me.

It’s like the sculptor who was asked
how she carved such beautiful statues
out of huge blocks of marble.

“First,” she said, “I study the block of marble,
then I envision the form within it
and then I chip away everything except the statue.”
Voila: A work of art!

The Lord is the sculptor of our lives.
He created the stuff of our existence, body and soul.
And sometimes we can be as dense and formless
as a block of marble.
But the Lord is always working at chipping away
all that isn’t the person he made each of us to be.
He takes me as I am, but summons out what I am called to be.

The Lord takes me as I am:
with all my assets and liabilities,
with all my talents and handicaps,
with all my accomplishments and my failures,
with all my strengths and weaknesses,
he takes me as I am with my sins and brokenness,
and with the help of his grace and mercy he sculpts,
he summons out, he calls forth,
the person he created each of us to be.

Then he sets his seal upon our hearts -
just as an artist might sign his work.

As we consider Jesus changing the water into wine,
we might ask ourselves three questions:

• First: do I trust that the Lord takes me as I am?
Indeed he does: he meets us right where we are,
warts and all!

• Second: do I believe that God’s not yet finished with me,
that God’s still sculpting me, whether I’m 8 or 80 years old?
Indeed, God will work on each of us
until the moment we draw our last breath.

• Third: will I ask the Lord to summon out of me
the person he wants me to become?
That’s the tough one: will I actually invite God to change me,
t0 make of me the person he wants me to be?

Just for a moment,
imagine yourself as jug of water or a block of marble
and pray to become, with God’s help and grace,
a fine wine, a work of art.

And pray with me…
Take, O take me as I am. Summon out what I shall be.
Set your seal upon my heart and live in me.

We believe Jesus changed water into wine.
And we believe that in a few moments
he will take our gifts of bread wine, just as they are,
and with the seal of the Holy Spirit upon them
he will make of them the gift of his Body and Blood,
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.

Pray with me that what we receive at the altar today
will change our hearts and change our lives.

May Christ take us to himself, just as we are,
may he summon out all that we are called to be
and set the seal of his love upon our hearts.


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