Isaiah 62:1-5 Psalm 95
I Corinthians 12:4-11 John 2:1-12
THE BAPTISM OF JESUS CONTINUED
Happy New Year! – I think it’s still not too late to hope!
So, actually, how exactly do you turn water into wine?
Just about this time a year ago, I was asked that question by a small boy at the back of a church a little way from here. He obviously felt that, being a priest, and having just preached on the topic I was supposed to know about these things.
Playing for time, I asked him why he wanted to know and he said that he wanted to know because he wanted to be able to do it himself.
‘Oh’, I said – “and why is that?”
-Well, after a little discussion, we discovered that he had been giving this matter quite a lot of thought. And it wasn’t just that he thought it would be a really cool thing to be able to do, but that he knew wine was quite expensive and water was very cheap. So he thought he could make money by producing it very cheaply and easily. So he wanted me to give him the secret of how it was done. And he was quite the little entrepreneur!
So I started to try to explain that the turning of water into wine at Cana and all the other miracles that are recorded are signs given by Jesus to show that he was who he said he was – the Son of God. And those signs are recorded as stories in the Gospels in order that we too may feel confident in knowing that Jesus is the Son of God.
Well, I don’t know, but maybe I went on a bit too long, because the young boy – his name is Matthew by the way – cut me off and said “So in order to do this, you have to be the Son of God – OK, forget it.”
So, I am sorry that Matthew went away feeling that being the Son of God and turning water into wine were both things that are too difficult and beyond him. I hope that one day he may come to feel differently about both those things.
I was sad about that because what I really wanted to be able to say is that turning water into wine is just a small symbol of God’s action in the world to bring good out of evil. That to be a Christian is to be a Child of God. And to be a Child of God is to do whatever one can to bring good out of whatever evil human situations one finds oneself in life. And, just sometimes, that requires Christians to do things that seem humanly impossible – to achieve depths of love, trust and forgiveness that are uncommon in our human world and that come not from within us, but from Above.
Let me give a small example: a couple of years ago a militant atheist decided – as a publicity stunt – that he would deliberately steal a host – a piece of the Body of Christ which we celebrate, venerate and honour – and deliberately desecrate it in a video on You-tube.
A bishop was asked on the radio news to give his response. The reporter was, of course, hoping for a fulminating angry condemnation that would give the story “legs”. The bishop considered for a moment and then said he would like to make two points.
-The first is that this was obviously a deliberate attempt to provoke and when one is deliberately provoked, the single most important thing is always to respond with peace and love. Nobody ever died of being disrespected. But people have died – and even killed – as a result of allowing themselves to be provoked.
-The second is that – in Truth – this man had not desecrated the Eucharist; he had simply re-enacted it. We celebrate this Eucharist in everlasting memory of Jesus Christ who lived the most perfect of lives and who was murdered and whose body was desecrated by Roman soldiers – men incapable of recognizing the presence and goodness of God in the world.
That, I believe is what we celebrate in our Sunday Eucharist – our commitment as Christians to follow Christ in making the best – the very best – of whatever we encounter in our lives. For these next seven days, we want to show the face of Christ in the world. Who knows what kind of dangers and the difficulties we may face. But the test of our Christianity is that we must bring good out of evil circumstances – we must be able to turn water into wine. If you see Matthew, ask him to give it a try. It may not make him as wealthy as Bill Gates, but it may make him rich in an even better way.
Fr Paul O’Reilly, SJ.
From the archives. First published 20th January 2013.
A MESSAGE FROM JESUIT MISSIONS
Thank you for your generous gift of £1,150.00 raised from your collection box. During this coming year, Jesuit Missions will defend the rights and dignity of more people in some of the most marginalised regions of our world. Your donation will be used where the need is greatest. Please continue to pray for us.
PAX CHRISTI APPEAL
There will be a second collection today for the work undertaken by Pax Christi. Please do give generously.
Farm Street Church will be hosting the choir of Ellesmere College Saturday 19th January. They will be singing a repertoire of choral and sacred music at a concert in the church at 7pm. If you are reading this at the Saturday Vigil Mass, you are most welcome to stay behind for what will no doubt be an evening of inspiring music.
CHRISTIAN UNITY WEEK
Christian Unity Week is held from January 18th until the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, January 25th. During this time, we will be praying the Collect for the Unity of Christians at each Mass. Please also note the following events which all are most welcome to attend:
* Sunday Jan 20th – 4pm – Christian Unity Week Vespers at Tyburn Convent
* Sunday Jan 20th – 6:30pm – Choral Evensong and Unveiling of the Memorial to the 1679 Jesuit Martyrs at St Giles-in-the-Fields
* Monday Jan 21st – 6:30pm – Churches Together in Westminster AGM & talks – Regent Hall Salvation Army, Oxford St
FAITH MATTERS QUESTION TIME VIOLENT CRIME IN LONDON:
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
All welcome to an informative evening on an important topic. Speakers will include Barry & Margaret Mizen from the For Jimmy Foundation; Fr Michael Holman, SJ, former Headmaster Wimbledon College; and a representative of the Legatum Institute. The evening will take place on Thursday 7th February at 6.45pm in the parish hall. Recommended donation: £10 on the door. To book please contact Farm Street Office on (020)-7529-4829; or email@example.com
FARM STREET CHARITY BALL
The annual Farm Street Church Charity Ball will take place at the Savile Club on Saturday 2nd February. Tickets cost £140. Booking forms can now be requested in the hall after the 9.30am and 11am Sunday Mass or at reception. Online bookings can also be made by the following the link at www. farmstreet.org.uk. The closing date for booking is 20th January 2019.
Request for Raffle and Auction Prizes
The raffle and auctions held during the ball help us to raise funds to support various good causes including Farm Street’s Homeless Shelter. Prizes have included theatre, sports, concert and opera tickets, luxury items, holiday stays and one-off experiences. If you would like to donate a prize, please leave this at reception marked FAO: Charity Ball Committee. Thank you in advance for your generosity.
Farm Street Church will be a hosting a concert on Monday 4th February at 7pm in aid of the St Vincent de Paul Society Vinnie Packs for the Homeless. The concert will feature a high-profile line up, including Alexander Armstrong, Miranda Heldt, Alex Macqueen, and The Choir With No Name. Tickets costs £30 and must be booked at Eventbrite.co.uk (search for ‘Vinnie Packs’).
WESTMINSTER DIOCESAN LOURDES PILGRIMAGE
To take place on July 20th – 26th 2019. If you are interested in joining the Westminster Diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage, as an assisted pilgrim, helper or praying pilgrim, please speak to Fr Dominic or drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org leaving your name and contact details
IN THE STEPS OF ST IGNATIUS
Pilgrimage to Spain
Thursday 4 to Wednesday 10 April 2019
£1079 per person; £98 single room supplementThere are still a few places left for this Ignatian trip with Jimmy Burns, 2018-19 President of the Stonyhurst Association, Fr Nick King SJ and other Ignatian Friends visiting mountain retreat, L’Avenc de Tavernet, Montserrat, Manresa and Barcelona. Please email dthurst52@gmail .com for details.
Your donation could be worth 25% more to us and it won’t cost you an extra penny. If you are a UK taxpayer, please consider using the Gift Aid donation envelopes available on the pews for your weekly offering.
Farm Street Church is now able to process donations via contactless payment. Terminals for this can be found in the church and at reception.
Why not come to our Regular Events?
• Drop-in Prayer
Every Monday 6.30-7pm
• Lunchtime Lectio
Every Tuesday 1.40-2pm
• Wednesdays at the Well – Come to Rest & Be Refreshed
3rd Wednesday of each month 11.30am-3.30pm (Next meeting: February 20th, 2019)
• Book Club
2nd Thursday of each month 7-8.30pm (Next meeting: February 14h, 2019)
WORK, WORSHIP and WHOLENESS
Facilitated by Audrey Hamilton and David Hothersall
Saturday 26th January 11am-4pm
How to bring together our work and our worship (our spirituality) for the mutual enriching of each and the wholeness of the person.
BEREAVEMENT AND LOSS GROUP
Facilitated by Maria Shapero
Thursday 7th February 11.30-1pm
Grief is a particularly isolating experience that can affect all aspects of your life physically, emotionally and socially. There are many kinds of grieving. You are welcome to just come along or contact Maria Shapero Mariashapero@hotmail.com or 0755 324 2322 for more details.
IGNATIAN RETREAT DAY
Facilitated by members of the Mount Street Jesuit Centre team
Saturday 9th February 11am-4pm
These are retreat days of prayer run in an Ignatian way, in which there is talk, time for personal prayer and the opportunity to listen to each other.
There is no need to book for these days, just come along.
ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE AND MINDFULNESS
Facilitated by Chris Goodchild
Saturday 16th February 11am-4pm
This workshop will explore in detail how the Alexander Technique evolved, how it can be applied and, most importantly, how it can be combined with mindfulness in giving us tools to be more present in life.
SHOW ME the WAY I SHOULD GO: TOOLS FOR MAKING LIFE CHOICES
Facilitated by Chris Chapman
Saturday 23rd February 11am-4pm
How do we learn to become more aware of the presence and guidance of God in the midst of daily life? How do we discern the Spirit when we have to make choices about the work we’ll do, our relationships or our priorities?
Facilitated by Cathy Edge and Lynne Galloway
Saturday 2nd March 11am-4pm
This will be a digital free day, no devices of any kind from at least 11am-4pm, so yes that includes the lunch break!
A practical workshop which will begin with the opportunity to reflect on your use of technology, with questions like how often do you have your smart phone or tablet in your hands…? With the invitation to switch it off and do something different. Perhaps to ‘Log Off for Lent’!