Pivot Point At A Wedding

Let Go Let GodIn any worthwhile relationship there will be moments of trust to the other as truly wishing the good of the other.  In relating to Jesus, it could be complicated to do both.   To have a fitness of the relationship with Jesus is a surrender to grace in full.  Case in point, Mary who is full of grace, would be an example for the new disciples to see that exactly.    Also what we will see is that her relationship was full of grace as well.

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him. After this, he and his mother, [his] brothers, and his disciples went down to Capernaum and stayed there only a few days (John 2:1-12).

They have no wine- One sign of  a close relationship is if few words need to be spoken to communicate a need. In approaching Jesus in ones personal relationship with him, one does not have to be wordy. Mary knew there was no need.

Woman, how does your concern affect me?– – The appearance in wording to Mary may seem dismissive to the modern eye and that Jesus is admonishing her.  A historical approach shows actually that Mary’s access to Jesus was very blessed. As for “Woman”, it was actually a term of endearment.  The Greek word for woman was gune. That word was used by Augustus to Cleopatra and Odysseus to Penelope by Homer (Steve Ray, St. John’s Gospel: Bible Study Guide and Commentary; Loc 1305 Kindle).

The next part is better translated with the understanding it was an idiom.  It was “What to you to me”.

When the idiom is used in response to a person’s request, either stated or implied, the speaker sometimes capitulates to the expressed will of the other (2 Kings 3:13) ….Jesus complies with Mary’s request, and Mary herself appears perfectly confident that Jesus will respond favorable to her petition. In affect, Jesus would not have initiated the miracle at Cana, but neither does he refuse his Mother’s prompting (Ignatius Study Bible).

This means there was nothing separating them which sets the stage of her understanding that the gravity of her request.What is about to be explained to her is that what is about to transpire will be her getting her wishes but her petition would go beyond that miracle to the relationship getting much more complicated: in the way of the cross.

My hour has not yet come– – Jesus makes a statement that could be taken as a no, but his action in a moment speaks louder than those words.  In his words Jesus leaves room to the appointed time that all is set right.  Yet here could be considered an hour where life is not the same again.  Jesus speaks to Mary on the significance of this intercession in that if there was any apparent wiggle room for him to go back to being a locally known carpenter it would be blown out here by his agreeing to her request.  If actions speak louder than words, this miracle would be like an naugural speech.  When we ask anything of Jesus, our consciences should be informed of the significance of the interaction.  The mark of change is continual when we ask for God’s intervention and we should be prepared for that in taking up ones cross to follow Jesus.  Mary was prepared for this 30 years prior when an old man prophesied to her that, “a soul will pierce your heart as well”.

Do whatever he tells you– – I keep coming back to this verse which bears repeating because humanity can fall into the mistake implied.  “Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer (2 Corinthians 5:16).  Not to say that Mary was repenting, but she had to appropriate her faith to a new level regarding Jesus in that from this day forward, her experience of Jesus would have to be outside of a default box of her known life.  It is not up to her what happens this hour and so she endorses the will of Jesus with a God-inspired openness.  Her faith in requesting and responding works as a catalyst of God’s work on the cross.  Here Mary takes her hands off Jesus and released him to the world.

six stone jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings– Augustine saw a symbolism in the six jars being symbolic of six ages of God doing something unique.  I would lean more on it being a matter of the six covenants that God had made in the Old Testament with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David.   They all were initiated in grace by God.  And if one sees the significance of stone materially, remember then that stone does not get stained.  Thus perfect for ceremonial washings.  The beauty of this is one could propose that there were six jars but seven vessels.  Jesus was that seventh vessel of grace that fulfills the intent of the first six.  Seeing this through the lens of the Old Testament, we can appreciate how God directed a momentum of covenant in His dealings with Israel.  In fact, the word in Hebrew for making a covenant was to “seven ones self”. Three years later Jesus speaks of a new covenant when he lifts up another supply of wine and declares it the blood of the new covenant.  As miraculous as the wine was about to be, it was a spiritual foretaste of the cup of the covenant.

as the beginning of his signs– – For those who examine the miracles of Jesus that are specifically described, there are teaching implications that must be considered.  The actions of Jesus speak as infused messages that due to the meaning and power them make the grey harder to turn to.  The signs point to objective and inconvenient truth to surrender to or deny.

and his disciples began to believe in him– – The longest time of discipleship represented in this group was a whopping 5 days by this point.  To see Jesus as a nice option and a nice guy does not cost anybody anything.  But with “believe” being a pregnant word in the gospels with faith and works bound together, one can see that decisions were made that day to simply do whatever Jesus tells them to do just like Mary said. Those who obey Jesus are not just receptacles as an end but vessels to share salvation to the world.  That was them.  That can be any of us if you decide to take up your cross and follow Jesus. This is the divine romance.  For Jesus begins here to begin a courtship with the world.

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Nothing of Importance Happened Today

Walking on a roadA day in our lives that we say that nothing happened is really a matter of perspective.  “Nothing of importance happened today” was written in the journal of King George III on July 4th, 1776.   Any American reader of that quote would say that this was the day America declared its independence from England and that king was missing a vital perspective.

Every big enterprise will be built on dramatic event days but also those days when they were just on the way. So too did the new disciples of Jesus that first week that he stopped being an plain carpenter.  Walking with him on the road to a wedding, there were various thoughts they must have had from their respective experiences.  One can imagine what they thought their first encounters with Jesus might mean.

Day One some were prepared by the prophetic for the Lamb—prophetic in the sense of a sampler of the fulness to truth to come.  It is a preparation for truth and putting down the sins that would blind our eyes. On that day it was also pointed out that precious paradigms and even personal places of power were about to be shifted.  Some heard this and stayed for more.

Day Two some saw Jesus “fulfill all righteousness” as they “Beheld the Lamb” being baptized- – Sacramental experience of Jesus by Jesus.  God works to show us his ways through the material.  It is to be heavenly minded while in the context of the earthly goods.

Day Three- – Some saw Jesus as someone to dwell with and therefore fellowshipped with the Lamb- Holy Friendship. One only knows more if they come and see.

Day Four- Some saw Jesus as one who calls one to a personal mission of service to Jesus and his kingdom.- Ongoing obedience.

Day Five- Jesus invited the openness of hard inquiry  or to examine the Lamb- – Contemplation.  Ongoing engagement of reason is not an enemy of faith.  “The Truth, which is Christ, imposes itself as an all-embracing authority which holds out to theology and philosophy alike the prospect of support, stimulation and increase (Fides Et Ratio, para.92).

Day 6-  One may be quick to look at these ways to experience Christ as their favorite or objectively the best.  I would suggest that the initial and ongoing follower of Jesus Christ needs them all; all of the above are treasured in the heart and are part of something akin to a flashpoint of conversion.

Day 7-   The conversion of the heart.  One now believes in Jesus with willingness to obey.  You are a friend of Jesus and a witness of the wedding that is far above the one that is studies in the verses below.

What we can deduce this day is that the followers of Jesus were on the road to a wedding.  Taking a step back in a read of the whole Bible, so are all who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ.  We are all on the road to a wedding, at the wedding below or some of both.  In fact, at the end of time, the reality in fulness is in the wedding supper of the Lamb “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory. For the wedding day of the Lamb has come, his bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7).

In the meantime, not all of the disciples going with Jesus have the same experiences.  Peter joined on day four for example.  A question could be asked on which of those experiences can prepare his disciples the best for the first miracle of the ministry.  I propose that it is  a matter of time that they learned all of these approaches are valid. They are all crucial before either an individual or group faith can have a fulness of response to Jesus.  And at least some have to be developed to approach Jesus with the fulness of “prayer and petition” (Philippians 4:6) so that the consciousness of the person and nature of Jesus is rightly formed.

On the way to any upcoming consolation of the Lord, the embracing of the meaning of such an encounter with Jesus is indeed of great importance.  There would be one person in this upcoming wedding that is undergirded by the characteristics outlined above.  But this person would not be a fisherman or a scholar or hermit.  Instead there is an example for us by a lovely middle aged woman, likely a carpenter’s widow, from Nazareth. And her formation was a process.

The Day 1 of Mary- – Her fiat (Luke 1:46-55), like what John the Baptist spoke of, included how God was going to bring in a new paradigm that would bring the lowly up and bring the self-exalted low.

The Day 2 of Mary- – Mary and Joseph honored the Lord in how the child who opened her womb was born.  Thus there was a sacrifice of turtledoves which like the baptism of Jesus was a means to “fulfill all righteousness” in the sense of connecting to the covenantal nature of God’s favor as revealed up to that time(Luke 1:22-24).  But yet we know that the grace of God was at work before that or any other works on Mary because grace is in God’s initiative and that action was reflected in Mary’s first encounter with the kingdom of heaven when approached by Gabriel the archangel.  He said “Hail, Full of Grace” (Luke 1:28). This is best translated as a royal greeting with “hail” and that she had been perfected in a past action up to that point by grace.

The Day 3 of Mary- – She dwelled with Jesus.  But Jesus first dwelled in her.  Christianity is not meant to be based on externals first with a subsequent external motivation.  God is indwelling when we give permission.

The Day 4 of Mary- – “May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).  A mission was given to her and she said yes.  That was the power in her life and everything else followed from that.  Saying yes for the mission was a cooperation with the Holy Spirit in which Christ is formed in her.  That is how the person of Jesus was expressed in Mary and in principle for us.

The Day 5 of Mary- – She loved God with her mind and engaged that way in asking how she could get pregnant when “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man(Luke 1:34)?”  One teaching is that she was determined to not know a man because of a perpetual consecration of virginity.  But her engagement of reason was still informed by faith as she “pondered [contemplated] these things in her heart”. (Luke 2:19,51). Her use of critical thinking and humility are good for an example of fully integrated faith and reason.

Jesus and his disciples are on their way to a wedding in Cana.  They were about to see the first miracle of Jesus through the intercession and collaboration of the disciple with the most extravagant love for him who was also his mother with 30 years of a relationship with him.  Every day that we are open to such principles in relationship to Jesus Christ is is a day we can say something “of importance happened today”.  You never know what may happen next. But you will know that Jesus is king.

Guadalupe

A King, A Wedding and a Mass

Long Live The King

The book of Revelation fulfills the themes of Church and Kingdom.  This can be seen  through hermeneutical keys of the universality of faith started in Abraham, the Davidic dynasty, nuptial language, sacraments and apostolic foundations.

The mission of redemption in the Gospel is partially defined at the pivot point of God’s promise to Abraham.  The universal opportunity of the Gospel is implied by an angel who said,

 I will bless you and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; your descendants will take possession of the gates of their enemies, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth will find blessing, because you obeyed my command (Revelation 22:-17-19).

It is important to point out that this multitude will be numerous, on the offense against the enemies’ gates and be a source of blessing to all the nations.  This is fulfilled in part if one looks at “Catholic” meaning “according to the whole”.  It is also fulfilled in part if one sees that the blessing of Jesus on Simon Peter the first pope how “upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).  The Church is meant to be on the offense in evangelism and in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-17).

But as to Revelation there is a particular fulfillment in the eschatological sense.

After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands (Revelation 7:9).

It is important to note in light of early church history we know that Christians were often baptized in white robes.  This symbolized their purity in Christ but also points to the priesthood of all believers.  By the merits of Jesus the High Priest of their good confession and through the sacramental grace of baptism, this fully realized people of God are a blessing to all nations in their priesthood in Christ.

The theme of the Davidic dynasty is fulfilled in Revelation and is noted often as authoritative and not to be disputed.  The foundation of the Davidic dynasty is laid in 2 Samuel where Nathan says,

I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you:  when your days have been completed and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, sprung from your loins, and I will establish his kingdom. He it is who shall build a house for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever….. Your house and your kingdom are firm forever before me; your throne shall be firmly established forever (2 Samuel 7:11b-13, 16).

After, David was a fog of war and the Babylonian captivity.  Confusion abounded until Jesus came and was known to many as Messiah and also as the “Son of David”.

But again, in an eschatological sense there is fulfillment here.  “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet. There were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world now belongs to our Lord and to his Anointed, and he will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)

In this passage is a vital case of “the Old revealed in the New” (St. Augustine). Jesus the Christ is the “Anointed One” but is not the first in salvation history.   Kings in Israel’s history were anointed using the Hebrew word from which we get Messiah.  The authority of David’s kingship is alluded to as an example for how true strength is affirmed.  “The holy one, the true, who holds the key of David, who opens and no one shall close, who closes and no one shall open“ (Revelation 3:7).

What is important to see in patterns in the passages is how permanency is clear and to whom it is given. This is unique authority from God the Father.  Otherwise Jesus is one of many co-kings.  Also of note, we can see again the theme of universality but it is in the worldwide scope of the reign of Jesus whereas the passages above are in an ecclesial and royal contexts.

 

The Old Testament points to the paradoxical identities in God as both Creator and Bridegroom.

“For as a young man marries a virgin,

your Builder shall marry you;

And as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride

so shall your God rejoice in you” (Isaiah 62:5).

This works well in understanding the Jewish culture.  It was customary for an engaged man to build a house for his future bride and it would take a year.  The high point at the end of the year would be the wedding and residing together.  Again, in an eschatological context, we see a fulfillment.

“Let us rejoice and be glad

and give him glory.

For the wedding day of the Lamb has come,

his bride has made herself ready.

She was allowed to wear

a bright, clean linen garment.”

(The linen represents the righteous deeds of the holy ones.) Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These words are true; they come from God.” (Revelation 19:7-9).

The fulfillment of God being the Creator and Bridegroom is multifaceted here.  Glory is given to the Lamb (Jesus who is divine), the wedding day is present, the bride is sanctified through her works in faith and there is a blessing to those who are called.  This passage is wrapped in divinity even in the end where it is clear God is declaring this to be true and this declaration of righteousness of this wedding is of Him.

Staying true to God in a covenantal perspective is essential in salvation history from Moses to the future era of the ultimate redemption of God’s people.

 “You will keep this practice forever as a statute for yourselves and your descendants.  Thus, when you have entered the land which the Lord will give you as he promised, you must observe this rite.  When your children ask you, ‘What does this rite of yours mean?’  you will reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice for the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the Egyptians, he delivered our houses.’ Then the people knelt and bowed down, and the Israelites went and did exactly as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron” (Exodus 12:24-28).

You shall also make a table of acacia wood, two cubits long, a cubit wide, and a cubit and a half high” (Exodus 25:23).

In both passages what is implied is that the people are invested in a recapitulation of the deliverance by God in the Exodus according to His covenant promises.  Their servitude in the Seder and the building of the acacia table (Table of The Lord through the OT is often a synonym for sacrificial altar) serves as a shadow of things to come. Revelation addresses the superior covenant in Christ.

They sang a new hymn:

“Worthy are you to receive the scroll

and to break open its seals,

for you were slain and with your blood you purchased for God

those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation.

You made them a kingdom and priests for our God,

and they will reign on earth.” (Revelation 5:9-11).

Again, we see the royal and the liturgical connected again, but this time it is in the people of God in Christ who are redeemed by the blood of The Lamb rather than a lamb.

Last, there is a pattern of government established in the Old Testament pointing to an order of things in the New.  He took twelve stones, for the number of tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the Lord had said: Israel shall be your name.” (I Kings 18:31).  This was reinforced in the generation after Moses as well” (Joshua 3:12).

The Church is built by Jesus in part on the apostles (Ephesians 2:20), this is reinforced in a broader dimension in experience than what a pre-Christ doctrine could allow in salvation history.  This is because, though Jesus said that the apostles sit on thrones,  they were also instrumental in founding a liturgical kingdom that bridges a heavenly reality.  We know this through John 20:21-23.  Absolving

“The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:14).  Each name had a story and a testimony by martyrdom.  A majority of the apostles were martyred but also they served in martyrdom and being in service.  Both factors are fitting to be represented because of the liturgical aspects sprinkled throughout this book (e.g. Jesus as the Lamb is mentioned 28 times in its 22 chapters).  This book through the areas highlighted above brings to fulfillment God’s promises in the contexts of kingdom, liturgy and nuptial celebration.

Recommended Reading:

The Lamb’s Supper, Letter and Spirit and Consuming The Word by Dr. Scott Hahn.  Probably best appreciated in that order since they make a trilogy though it is non-fiction.

Upon This Rock by Steven Ray