“Transformation” By Rachael Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

My New Year’s Resolution should be to come up with better New Year’s Resolutions. For several years, my goal has been to learn how to juggle. If you knew me, you’d know this is a doomed mission from the start. Growing up – I failed at every sport involving a ball. I’m very uncoordinated, so this is really not the right goal to set for myself. Nevertheless, I persevere every January with my YouTube tutorials and my 3 orange balls that unfailingly fall to the ground and bounce away into hard-to-reach cervices beneath furniture.

I would guess most people set better goals than I do – to get in shape, get organized, focus more on what matters most in life, etc. At the start of a new calendar year, we tend to desire a fresh start – dissatisfied with the status quo we might have fallen into. We desire to be made new in some way – even if it’s just to learn a seemingly useless hobby like juggling.

In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus does something new and unexpected. It’s the first time Jesus performs a miracle for the public, marking the beginning of the 3 years we refer to as his “public ministry.” The scene is set in Cana, at a wedding Jesus and his mother have been invited too. Jesus takes along several of his disciples (they must have given Jesus a few extra “plus ones”), but not long into the wedding festivities, a catastrophic social disaster begins to take place behind the scenes. Somehow the wine has run out, and the servers in the back are sweating bullets. Not only are their jobs on the line, they know as soon as people realize there is no more wine, the party would be deemed a failure and the families of the bride and groom would be devastated. Jesus’ mother Mary asks Jesus to do something about it. Jesus goes into the back with the servers and works with what he’s got – six stone jars, able to hold 20-30 gallons of water each. Jesus instructs the servers to fill them with water. Ordinary water. But when Jesus has the servers pour one out to be tasted – it is anything but ordinary. It is the most extraordinary wine anyone at the party had tasted. And with all that good wine, the party went on to be so memorable we are still talking about it 2,000 years later.

At another point recorded in Sacred Scripture, Jesus says “Behold, I make all things new.” In this new year, we are not an exception to this. Jesus has the power to make us new in some way. What fresh start do you need? To conquer a not-so-holy habit? To restore a relationship? Perhaps the past 2 years of the pandemic have taken a toll on you, and you need Jesus to resurrect you from anxiety, depression, loneliness, or fear. Maybe the fresh start you desire seems impossible – but you know what? Jesus has a habit of doing the impossible.

A priest friend of mine mentioned recently that God’s plans for him were way bigger and more amazing than he could have imagined for himself, and the same is true for all of us. On our own, we are like water. But when we invite God’s transforming power into our lives, we can be so much more than we ever dreamed. He wants to create “new wine” in you, richer and more full-bodied, so to speak, than would have been possible on our own. (I know what you’re thinking – people want to be richer in the new year, but tend to want to be less full-bodied…. hence the gym membership surges – I’m just trying to do some wine-speak here!!)

So, if you’re like me and your New Year’s resolutions have already gone the way of the dinosaur, it’s not too late to start a new one, and perhaps a more meaningful one. Consider allowing God to make you into new wine. Ask God what He has in mind for you. What ordinary (or even negative) areas can and should be transformed? Talk to him about these areas of your life and ask Him for power to change. If you find yourself stuck at times – know that we are given the ability to be made new through the sacraments. I recommend spending some time in Eucharistic Adoration or finding new grace through the Sacrament of Reconciliation or even at daily Mass in the Eucharist. It might not help with hand-eye coordination, but allowing God to do something extraordinary in your life will help you better handle what life throws at you, and eventually you’ll be dong the “impossible.”

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