On February 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, we celebrate the annual World Day of the Sick. It’s a day on which we pray in a special way for those who carry the cross of illness and for those who care for them. Each year the Holy Father writes a message for the occasion and this year he reflected on the Wedding Feast of Cana.
He said that the “wedding feast of Cana is an image of the Church: at the center there is Jesus who in his mercy performs a sign.” The miracle or sign reveals Jesus’ divine power and anticipates the heavenly wedding feast where union with God will be consummated.
Human beings, made in the image and likeness of God who is a Trinity of Persons, are made by Love itself and for Love. We are created for union with God and the Communion of Saints. This union and communion begin here on earth at the Eucharist where the Son of God unites himself to us. It is a marriage in which the two, Jesus and each individual, become one flesh. Joined to Jesus, we are also united to one another in the one Body of Christ.
Jesus made this possible when he took flesh. Early theologians spoke of the marriage of humanity and divinity—two natures—in the one person—Jesus. The fruit of this marriage is eternal life. Jesus made a total gift of himself on the cross and he anticipated this gift at the Last Supper when he said “This is my Body given for you. Take and eat.” It is as though he said: “Make me one with you. Become one with me.”
Knowing such love, this total gift of self, the natural response is to want to give a gift in return. The only gift that can come close to Jesus’ gift to us is a total gift of ourselves. The best gift we can give to him is the precious gift of time. We live in time. It represents our earthly existence. When we run out of time, that’s the end of our life on earth.
In the Daily Offering we give God the gift of time, the gift of our lives. Every moment is made a gift, even our recreation and our sleep. We do those for our health, to take care of God’s gift of life. We can, as St. Paul put it, “do everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10: 31).
What we offer God may seem small, insignificant. Not for God. Jesus invited the apostles to help him and he invites us. He wants our help no matter how small it seems because in his hands what is small becomes great. This is a typical pattern for Jesus. In his hands, five loaves and two fish feed thousands. Water becomes an abundance of the finest wine.
In his Message for the 2016 World Day of the Sick, Pope Francis reminds us that our lives are significant to Jesus and that the “toil and sufferings like the water which filled the jars at the wedding feast of Cana,” by being offered to God, can “help God to perform his miracles.”
Here is the pertinent passage: “He could have made the wine appear directly in the jars. But he wants to rely upon human cooperation, and so he asks the servants to fill them with water. How wonderful and pleasing to God it is to be servants of others! This more than anything else makes us like Jesus, who ‘did not come to be served but to serve’ (Mark 10: 45). These unnamed people in the Gospel teach us a great deal. Not only do they obey, but they obey generously: they fill the jars to the brim. … On this World Day of the Sick let us ask Jesus in his mercy, through the intercession of Mary, his Mother and ours, to grant to all of us this same readiness to be serve those in need, and, in particular, our infirm brothers and sisters. At times this service can be tiring and burdensome, yet we are certain that the Lord will surely turn our human efforts into something divine. We too can be hands, arms and hearts which help God to perform his miracles, so often hidden. We too, whether healthy or sick, can offer up our toil and sufferings like the water which filled the jars at the wedding feast of Cana and was turned into the finest wine. … If we can learn to obey the words of Mary, who says: ‘Do whatever he tells you’, Jesus will always change the water of our lives into precious wine.” [Emphasis added]