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Service and the Manifestation of the Epiphany
A Calling to Use Our Gifts in Service to Others
"Everyone has the power of greatness. Not for fame, but for greatness. Because greatness is determined by service" ~ Rev. Martin Luther King .
As we approach the celebration of the late Rev. King's storied life on January 21st, one of his many great quotes serves as an appropriate backdrop for this Sunday's Readings and the final manifestation of the Epiphany, the Wedding Feast at Cana.
It is here where Jesus famously turns water into wine and in essence kicks off a chain of events that culminates in the promise of eternal paradise ("For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." - John 3:16).
St. Paul speaks of the many different spiritual gifts that God bestows upon His people in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). Paul goes on to point out that despite the diversity of these gifts, all originate from the same spirit. These gifts are in essence the true manifestation of the Holy Trinity and they are given per God's will for the benefit of others. God's will is of course at the center of this mystery, and it is through patient and meaningful prayer that we can grow to better understand God's will for us through the manifestation of our individual gifts.
The Gospel then transports us to the Wedding Feast at Cana, where Jesus Himself is pressed into service by none other than Mary herself. When Mary approaches Jesus to explain that the guests have done quite a number on the wine and they are in need of more, Jesus responds "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come."
The "hour" is of course a reference to Jesus' passion, and some Biblical Scholars ascertain that Jesus, in His human nature, was perhaps unaware that His road to Calvary was to begin at that very moment. Although that interpretation itself is subject to speculation, it's clear that upon tending to Mary's wishes after she instructs the servants to "do whatever He tells you" (the very last words uttered by Mary in sacred scripture by the way, an appropriate and lasting sign-off for our Eternal Mother) Jesus has now begun to embark on His long fateful journey to Easter Sunday.....and He knows it.
There are so many opportunities to serve others right within the confines of a thriving Parish Community. These opportunities tie back to both the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, those acts which the church has deemed to be in line with tending to the needs of our brothers and sisters as we all continue along our spiritual journey hand-in-hand. Whether they help address each other's most basic needs for food, water and shelter or if they serve to bolster our neighbors' faith through such virtures as patience, wisdom and comfort, the works of mercy are rooted in every positive task we set out to accomplish on behalf of our neighbor.
Praying for each other is also considered a vital act of mercy.
In the Gospel of Matthew (5:7), Jesus in His sermon on the Mount says "blessed are the merciful, for they shall be showed mercy". The mercy He expects from us is manifested through faithful service to others. As St. Paul instructs us, it is up to each faithful servant of God to determine where his or her gifts can best be leveraged in order to maximize our potenial for service to others.