The other night when I got home after a long day, I did what I typically do and I turned on the television to watch the news. Anderson Cooper was interviewing the parents of Catherine Hubbard, one of the child victims of the Newtown school shooting. I almost turned the channel because I just couldn't bear to hear any more of this tragic story, but when I heard Anderson ask her parents to tell the world how they remember their daughter, I decided to sit down and listen.
They told a beautiful story of an incredibly loving, energetic, red-haired little girl who had a tremendous love for animals. Catherine was remembered to be such a loving child that when she would hug her parents she would say "Mommy, daddy, I am going to hug you so tight that you feel it all the way in your toes!" Her parents ended the interview by saying that they were consciously choosing not to live in hate for the murder of their child, but instead to live honoring and remembering the abundant love Catherine shared with them and with everyone she encountered.
Their story about Catherine's love, their witness to the world of this love, their choice to
live in the light of love instead of in the shadows of hate has been infectious, and since seeing that short interview, I haven't been able to stop thinking about them. I’m in awe of their pledge for love over hate in light of this horrible tragedy. Their incredible witness has inspired me and encouraged me to think more deeply about the transformative power of love. Catherine, even in death, and her parents witness to our broken world that love can and really does transform us.
In today’s gospel, Jesus performs a miracle at a wedding in Cana, a sign of abundant, infectious, transformative love. As I read this story over and over, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the details being focused on. It’s a short story, but we’re given a very clear picture of the volume of water Jesus turned into wine. Let’s read it again: “Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim” (John 2: 6-7).
So I began to wonder, how much wine are we talking here?
Well if each water-jar is at maximum capacity of 30 gallons, then we’re talking 180 gallons or roughly 900 bottles of wine! Now we also know from the story that the wedding feast is just about over, so not only will they not run out of wine for the remainder of the feast, but they can continue to have feasts over and over again and never run out!
Jesus clearly has a way with abundance! Jesus clearly has a way with providing so much love and so much life that those who encounter him, those who witness and experience this life and love can’t help but be transformed, can’t help but believe, can’t help but be in awe that what Jesus offers—Jesus’ feast—will never end!
This was honestly the first time in my life, even though I’ve heard this story hundreds of times, that I really felt the abundance. And the abundance in this story is all gift—it is all given freely, completely undeserved and unmerited, simply given out of love. I’m simply in awe of the abundance in this story. Jesus’ abundant love and his witness to God’s abundant love for us have really encouraged me to think more deeply about the transformative power of love.
Jesus witnesses to God’s love for us at this wedding. And the disciples witness this love and experience it and are transformed by it. And they in turn witness to this transformative love by retelling this story of Jesus over and over again and we witness this love and experience it and are transformed by it. And we in turn witness to this love by retelling this story of Jesus over and over again and others we encounter witness this love and experience it and are transformed by it.
And so on. And so on. Infectious. Transformative. God’s abundant, sustaining, infectious love
changing the world through Catherine, through her parents, through you, through me, through all of us, one witness at a time.
Catherine’s story is infectious and is worth telling over and over and remembering too. Catherine’s love inspired her parents to live in the light of love instead of in the shadow of hate.
Her love transformed them and they witness to that love and we witness that love and all of us are transformed by it. This is called Cana love. This is Jesus’ life-giving, abundant love—
abundant life! And Jesus promises us too that he came that we might have life, and have it abundantly. Amen.