Friday, May 4, 2012

The Kentucky Derby

I could not help but notice that one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby has the name "I'll have another!". Funny name. In this month dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus, it is worth remembering that the miracle at Cana was the first of Jesus' miracles. Wine has always been a symbol of joy in scripture and heaven is portrayed as the wedding feast of the lamb. If Jesus' first miracle was to change water into wine then we see here a distinctly Catholic approach to the world. We are, in the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, to use moderation in the proper ordering of goods-this includes food, drink, the arts, entertainment, etc. Curious isn't it that Jesus was accused of being a drunkard and a sinner. I think it is fair to say he knew how to have a good time. And by the way- the amount of water he changed into wine .....six stone water jars each containing 20 to 30 gallons of wine! Weddings back then were known to last for several days. Joy. One of Mary's titles is cause of our joy. St. Teresa of Avila used to say "God save us from sad faced saints". Joy and laughter is the topic of Fr. James Martin's new book Between Heaven and Mirth!. In this book he details the importance of joy and laughter in the life of a Catholic Christian. It makes one ponder the wonderful passage in Isaiah 55: "All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David." (Is 55:1-3) This passage is titled the invitation to grace. Just as Jesus changes water into wine so too does he give us his grace, freely. Romans 5:15 states, "The gift is not like the transgression. For if by one person's transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many." This is great news. Some people are caught in the trap of seeing God as a mathematician. One sin, One demerit. One act of Charity, one merit. Zero-Sum, right? No. Phil Yancey in his amazing work "What's so Amazing About Grace" highlights some wonderful stories of people who came in touch with the Amazing Grace of Jesus Christ and had their lives permanently changed. Do you want some Amazing Grace? Come to Jesus, the stone rejected by the builders who has become the cornerstone. "I'll have another!" A big amen to the God who chose the miracle of joy-changing water into wine at a wedding-as his first miracle!

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