The most common word found in birthday cards is “special.” Happy Birthday to a special girl, a special boy, a special (fill in the blank).
It is up to the person sending the birthday card to make the person celebrating his/her birthday feel special. This is done by accompanying the card with the gift of something that the recipient was dreaming of getting, but could not afford or by surprising him/her in unusual fashion or by splurging on him/her in a manner that is as far removed from the ordinary as possible.
Nobody wants to be considered ordinary. We all need concrete evidence that those around us think of us and treat us as being special.
Whenever we are made feel special, we light up and become radiant. Life gets easier; problems are tackled with confidence; we become optimistic; we stop looking at our miseries and begin to notice people around us to think of, to care for, to share with, and to love.
Due to Covid-19 and compounded factors generated by this pandemic in all its variants, for two years now, we might have never felt as being special in the eyes of someone, perhaps not even in the eyes of one close to us.
Under usual circumstances, none of us wants to be ignored, overlooked or taken for granted. But the last two years have generated very unusual and taxing circumstances for all. Consequently, many seem self-absorbed and in survival mode. They do not appear to have time to be truly empathetic and caring.
However, before we might accede to a touch of self-righteousness, we should wonder if we, too, might have ignored or taken for granted people whom the Lord placed very close to us.
If we stop to think about the general condition is which we find ourselves as members of a family and of our parish community, we can safely say that we need someone, right now, to make us feel special.
That Person, (need I remind you?) is God himself!
We are the New Zion, the New Jerusalem; we are the Church and for the fourth time since the Vigil of Christmas, God has, officially, been telling us that he is madly in love with us. He cannot stop mentioning to everyone that he will not be silent; he will not be quiet about us!
He tells us that we, who felt ignored, overlooked, taken for granted, ordinary, even “Forsaken” and “Desolate,” are truly “His Delight” (cf. Isaiah 62: 1-5).
Rather that singling out those around us who failed to make us feel special and on our inattentiveness to them, we should absorb and bask in this good news.
And, were we to dismiss this good news as something much welcomed but fleeting, I must remind myself and also all of you that we are dealing with God and not with other weak, very limited, easily distracted, hurting human beings.
The Gospel passage about Jesus’ famous first miracle of turning water into wine is designed to emphasize this most reassuring certainty by showing us how, being madly in love with us, our God makes us feel special by splurging on us in ways that he alone can!
Back then, also weddings in small villages like Nazareth and Cana were the most anticipated and the most extraordinary events in which the whole community took part. Wedding festivities went on for a whole week.
On any day, wine was a precious commodity afforded only by the wealthy. Ordinary people had to make their wine last longer by adding water to it…Hence, it is not surprising that everybody flocked to this wedding at Cana and, as reported by John, after a few days of drinking freely, the wine was nearly all gone.
Something had to be done and quickly.
In the Bible itself, wine figures prominently. It is a precious gift and a blessing from God to bring joy to people’s hearts. It gladdens life and it cheers the spirit of the depressed. Choice wine and rich food is what God has prepared for his people in heaven to make them feel “special” for all eternity!
Without wine, the wedding would have turned into a huge letdown, an uneventful, flat, ordinary doldrums.
John writes that the mother of Jesus, our Mother, as any mother to whom every one of her children is special, is the one pointing out to him, as the wine was running low that “they have no wine.”
Personally, I consider it a tremendous source of consolation to know that the Blessed Mother has been pointing out to Jesus our troubles before they get to be too big and crush us.
Without fail, she tells Jesus about every time we feel ordinary, depleted of energy, disheartened, running on fumes. With the power of persuasion that she has on her almighty Son, she cajoles him into anticipating the Hour of his ultimate expression of love on the cross.
Through Mary’s intercession, our Lord does not only avert embarrassments and failures to his brothers and sisters, he proves that, in the eyes of the Father, we are always special. Jesus could have simply provided a decent wine for people who were already partially inebriated. NO, the Lord loves us so much that he surprises us with the unexpected; he grants us what we could not afford; he splurges on us as the One who calls us: “My Delight.”
Let us think. Just in the course of our Eucharistic celebrations, we are called to relive as communities of faith and as individuals how the Lord is proving us that we are special. He offers us his Word of life; he brings us the light of his teachings; he fills our hearts with hope; he presents our entreaties to the Father and he feeds us his Body and Blood: the Bread of immortality and the Wine of endless joy.
Becoming aware of all this divine splurging on us we should feel uplifted, heartened and radiant to the point of refurbishing the spiritual gifts (cf. 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11) that we might have left dormant and idle because we were feeling ordinary for a long, long time.
Our glad sharing of these spiritual gifts with others, who still feel ordinary, we might be able to make them feel special indeed. Our Blessed Mother will point out to her Son also their dejection and their risk of living “with no wine.”
This joyful sharing would prove that we, too, begin to believe in him as the source of our lasting joy.