Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

1st Sunday in Great Lent

Sermon / Homily on John 2:1-11

Meditation on the Reading for Kothine Sunday (John 2:1-11)

by HG Yuhanon Mor Meletius

Gospel: St. John 2: 1-11

There are two major acts of Jesus in this chapter of John's Gospel. Both of them are in a way signs. The first is a sign of the fulfillment of his mission and the second is a sign of what happens when the fulfillment occurs. The first talks about the transformation and the second about casting out of all that is unwanted and evil. Both taken together become sign of the establishment of the Kingdom 'temple' abode- of God. When Jesus establishes the Kingdom of God through the shedding (of blood), the sharing (of body) and rejoicing (in resurrection), all the evil elements will be cast out and a cleansed and perfected Kingdom of God will be established.

It is in this context we are called to meditate on the word 'kairos' used in the passage prescribed for the day. This Greek word can be translated as 'appointed time (hour)'. The first response of Jesus to his mother regarding shortage of wine at the marriage feast was 'my time has not come'. But then he does what she had asked him to do. So we may assume that he was not referring to what specifically he did at that situation when he said 'my time has not come'. Here both 'my' and 'time' have to be read together. This is where our attention is drawn to John 17:1 where he says, 'Father my kariros has come ...'. With this we are assured that the time he was mentioning about was 'the appointed time to glorify the Father' and not to do what he did at the house of feast (there are instances too that support this presumption (eg. 5:25, 28; 7:30; 8:20 etc.).

Of course what was need at the feast-house had to be done. But that time was only a pre-taste of 'the time'- 'the time' to glorify the Father. What happens after Ch. 17 gives an idea of the process of mutual glorification. That is the cross, the tomb and the resurrection. In a symbolic way or in sign language we may say, 'being drawn from the well, poured in to the empty jar and drawn out for sharing and for immense joy and satisfaction'. Jesus was separated from the rest of his people as a servant of God, but to humans he was singled out as a criminal (water drawn from the well - Isa. 53:1-4). He was buried in the tomb like a lifeless dead body (water to wash feet in the jar), but when shared by the governor and others at the feast it was superb and fine wine to make them extremely pleased (at resurrection his disciples and the women at the tomb were astonished and were filled with joy). This was a time of glorification of the Son by the Father and consequently glorification of the Father too.

So 'the time (hour)' is the time of transformation. First self-transformation and then transforming others from despair to joy. We may remember that we are about to start a new season of transformation experience with Kothine Sunday. In Christ and in participation with his humanity, a humanity of all ages and all places, that was joined in incarnation with his Godhead, we also need to go through the same experience. We need to be separated from the rest as we were called out (Matt. 4:19; Rom. 1:6,7) by God (1 Pet. 2:9). Further we have to go through the dying or poured in to the jar/tomb experience (John 3:5; Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12).

Many of us interpret the trouble of being poured out as temptations we experience in life and talked about in the Lord's Prayer (Matt. 6: 9ff; Luke 11:2ff) and try to avoid them. Mind that these are two different things. Temptations come from outside, but pouring in to done by self. This is the suffering that we take up to take out the worldliness and that are evil, deadly and carnal in us (Rom. 7:4,5; 1 Cor. 3:3). It is a painful thing to take away the carnal in us. This is what is expected of us through our observance of the lent (see what happens in the case of Jesus himself. Of course it is given in the gospels as some external force came from outside to test him. But in every human, carving for livelihood, fame and power at any cost is there internally and do not have to come from outside).

Abstinence from certain food and from some daily routine is simply symbols of this suffering and hence is not final in itself. So we do not have to be too much proud when we say we have observed lent strictly. Unless it becomes a sign of our transformation experience, it is of no value, but something like following a prescription by a dietician or a medical doctor who is advising us of our health.

When the water came out of the jar the guests were happy and pleased. In turn when the Lord came out of the tomb the Father was glorified and the disciples and the ladies were pleased. The transformation, hence, is not aimed primarily for the glory or benefit or the wine or the transformed. We do not get transformed so that we will be better honored by others. Here a question may be raised. Why then in John 17:1 Jesus asked his Father to glorify him? The glorification of the Son was effected by strengthening him to face the suffering, death and the tomb. Again this glory helps the Son to be resurrected through which the Father shall be glorified. This shall be a matter of hope and joy for others. Our observance of the lent is, hence, for two purposes; for us to be transformed and for us to become a blessing for others as in the case of Abraham (Gen. 12:3).

Our commitment to the world God created and its growth to its fullness becomes our primary concern. Without self transformation no one can transform another. Without self transformation no one can make another person happy. Our mission in this world is to make others happy and for that we have to be transformed. Jesus' words testify this. He said, "I spoke this that your joy may be multiplied ..." (John 15:11; Rom. 12:2). His purpose in coming in to this world was to transform the world and everything in here including humans. Same is the purpose of us being born in to this world and being strengthened through observance of lent.

This strength is the glory our Lord gives us, and that is the glory with which we make our God glorified. Through our love towards others the world will know that we are a transformed lot (John 13:35). As said earlier, the wine's taste and fineness was not for the wine, rather was for the sake of those who tasted it. When everyone tastes the fineness of us, the disciples of Christ, who observe lent, the Kingdom of God shall be established. This is 'the time (kairos)' Jesus talked about and this is the 'time (hour)' we are waiting for in Parusia. This is the time we are trying to bring in through our observance of the lent. God be with us through this season of Great Lent and ever since.

See Also:

Devotional Thoughts for Kothanae Sunday and the Marriage at Cana
by: Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil

Meditation on Kothine Sunday
by HG Yuhanon Mor Meletius

The Feast of the Lord
by Rev. C. H. Spurgeon

Satan's Banquet
by Charles H. Spurgeon

Devotional Thoughts for Kothine Sunday
by Jose Kurian Puliyeril

Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for 1st Sunday in Great Lent (Wedding at Cana)

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