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Bishop's Homily for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

It is important that we not try to solve all our problems on our own.

By Bishop Larry Silva
January 16, 2022

[St. John Vianney Church, Kailua; St. Anthony Church, Kalihi (Santo Niño Celebration)]

I have reached the end of my rope!  I’ve hit a dead end!  I am running out of gas!  I just can’t take this anymore!

These, I believe, are our common ways of saying that the wine is running out, that what brings joy to our lives is drying up, or that we just do not know how we can go on another step.  They are our ways of saying that “The party is over!” because we just do not know where to go with all the challenges and frustrations in our lives.  Pandemic, sickness, loss of work, news that someone I love has a serious health concern, long-lasting domestic conflicts, political fighting – or sometimes just sheer boredom – can be the factors that lead us to the conclusion that we simply cannot go on.

The Gospel is never only about what happened in the past.  It is the living Word of God, and the stories it tells are the stories of how the Lord is acting in our world today, not just how he did two millennia ago.  Just as Jesus changed the course of that wedding from potential major embarrassment to even greater festivity, so he can do today.  And he only used what was already commonly available, water, but engaged others in making the change.

Even today when we feel our wine has run out in life, we can just give up.  Or we can serve up some very toxic drinks, thinking that they will substitute for what we are really seeking.  Many turn to drinking, to violence, even to suicide because they have simply lost hope that things can be any different.  Mary knew better, so she dared to take her concern to Jesus, even though she was initially rebuffed.  She did not give up so easily and made sure the servants were lined up to listen to Jesus and do whatever he told them.

Our Mother Mary can still be our advocate, and this is why we have the custom of going to her when we are in need.  No, she had no power to produce new wine herself, but her influence with her Son was – and is – so great, that we can always count on her as an advocate.  There is more, however, because whenever we speak of Mary we can also speak of the Church, since she is an excellent icon of the Church, whose mission is to give Christ Jesus to the world.  And so it is important that we not try to solve all our problems on our own, stubbornly asserting our independence and our privacy.  We need the other members of the Church who can advocate for us in various ways to present us before Jesus and to be the servants that do his bidding.

And so if someone is overwhelmed with grief at the loss of a loved one and thinks life just cannot go on, we who are members of the Church, the Body of Christ, each with our own gifts, can support that person and see them through to better days in which their grief is turned to joy when they finally realize that grief is really love that never dies.

If someone is overcome with depression, yes, mental health professionals are important, but even more important are people who can reach out to them, let them know they are loved simply by being present to them or praying with and for them, and steer them to find the kind of help they may not have the energy or resources to find on their own.

When people are homeless or hungry for a very long time, they can think that their wine has just run out and they will never again have the joy of a normal life with a home and secure food.  Yet we who are the members of the Church, with our variety of gifts, can feed them, clothe them, work with out elected officials to find affordable housing for them, and help them negotiate the complexities of doing business these days so that their joy can be restored.

Yes, Jesus surely changed water into wine at Cana and saved the day for the newly-weds and their families.  But he continues to take the ordinary and to make it something extraordinary, so that whenever we feel drained and spent, we can be renewed with abundant joy, a new wine that brings gratitude to our hearts and helps us to continue bonding with each other in building the Kingdom of God.