Happy New Year, in the Year of Our Lord’s Grace Two Thousand and Nineteen.
The first Sunday of the New Year is the Feast of the Epiphany, meaning a showing, a manifestation, an uncovering of truth. The Epiphany featured in the Church’s Kalendar as the principle celebration of the Incarnation even before 25th December appeared in the west.
The days of Epiphany focus in particular on three revelations of Christ – the coming of the Magi with their gifts, the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan by John the Baptist, and at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. The coming of the Magi draws our attention on 6th January and the Baptism of Jesus on the next Sunday; but it is the third “epiphany” which intrigues me most – the wedding at Cana – not just at the prospect of 120 gallons of water turning into vintage claret, but because of the seemingly simple statement: “the mother of Jesus was there.” (John 2.1).
It’s intriguing partly because St John’s Gospel doesn’t name the mother of Jesus. Indeed, she only appears on one other occasion in that Gospel– at the foot of the cross, again unnamed. In telling the story of the wedding feast, St John the Evangelist, the gospel writer, is making a clear connection between Cana and Calvary. “The mother of Jesus was there.” The glory revealed at the start of Jesus’s ministry, in the first of his signs, was fulfilled on the cross in the triumph of total self-giving love over the terrorism of evil and hatred.
There are other connections to be made – for example between the water and wine of the wedding feast and the blood and water flowing from the side of the crucified Jesus; understood by the Church as the source of the sacraments of Holy Baptism and the Eucharist. Then there is the presence of unspecified disciples at Cana and the unnamed beloved disciple at the foot of the cross – the disciple who took the mother of Jesus, representative of the old covenant people which brought Christ to birth into a new home, creating a new covenant community.
So as we move through Epiphany towards the end of the celebrations of our Lord’s incarnation, we are directed onwards to our forthcoming corporate pilgrimage through Lent to Holy Week and Easter – the greatest epiphany of them all.
May we continue to live out all our days in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.
O God, who by the leading of a star manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: mercifully grant that we, who know you now by faith, may at last behold your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.