Monday, January 18, 2016

The language of actions

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
January 17, 2016

John 2:1-11

The evangelist John doesn't say that Jesus worked "miracles" or "wonders." He calls them "signs" because they are acts that point to something deeper than what our eyes can see. Specifically, the signs that Jesus performs guide us towards him and reveal his saving power.

What happened in Cana in Galilee is the beginning of all the signs. The prototype of those that Jesus would carry out throughout his life. This "transformation of water into wine" suggests the key to understanding the kind of saving transformation that Jesus works and that, in his name, his followers are to offer.

Everything happens in the framework of a wedding, the human feast par excellence, the most expressive symbol of love, the best image in the biblical tradition to evoke the definitive communion of God with human beings. The salvation of Jesus Christ must be experienced and offered by his followers as a feast that gives fullness to human feasts when the latter are empty, "without wine" and without the ability to satisfy our desire for total happiness.

The account suggests something more. Water can only be savored like wine when, following the words of Jesus, it is "taken out" of the six large stone jars used by the Jews for their purifications. The religion of the law written on stone tablets has been exhausted; there is no water capable of purifying human beings. That religion must be liberated by the love and the life that Jesus communicates.

You can't evangelize just any way. Words aren't enough to communicate the transformative power of Jesus; actions are necessary. Evangelizing isn't just speaking, preaching, and teaching, much less judging, threatening, and condemning. It's necessary to update with creative fidelity the signs Jesus used to do to introduce the joy of God by making the hard life of those peasants happier.

Many contemporary people are indifferent to the word of the Church. Our celebrations bore them. They need more warm and friendly signs from the Church to find in Christians Jesus' capacity to alleviate suffering and the hardness of life.

Who would want to hear today what is no longer presented as joyful news, especially if this is done by invoking the gospel in an authoritarian and menacing tone? Jesus Christ is awaited by many as power and an incentive to exist, and a way to live more wisely and joyfully. If they only know a "watered down religion" and can't savor some of the festive joy that Jesus used to spread, many will continue to drift away.

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