For a moment, I invite you to imagine your dream car. Imagine you’ve won the lottery and one of the first things you do is buy your dream car. The dealer reminds you to peruse the manual which suggests, among other things, what type of gas you should use and the type of oil required when it is changed. You love driving your new car and it’s running beautifully. But after a few months you think, “The heck with the manual. I’m going to try something different. Instead of gas, I’m going to put water in the gas tank. And instead of having an oil change, I’ll just put coffee where the oil is supposed to go; it’s about the same color anyway.” What do you suppose will happen to your dream car? It will break down.
As ludicrous as this seems, it’s the way many people treat their lives. When God created us he made a “God-shaped” hole in our hearts that only he can fill. This is why we have an insatiable desire for happiness. Our desire for happiness points us to God, the One who can make us happy. So what does this all have to do with the Wedding at Cana, the gospel for this Sunday? There is a small but important detail in the miracle at Cana: the six stone water jars at the wedding are empty. These jars can symbolize an empty life, a life without Jesus.
St. Augustine wrote, “O Lord, you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Many people have empty lives, spiritually speaking, because they try to fill their lives with things that cannot satisfy; and the more they try to fill themselves, the emptier they become. There are people all around us who are like those empty jars, waiting to be filled with the love and mercy of God.
The Wedding at Cana reveals that Jesus wants to fill us with the richness of his life. He commands that the empty jars be filled with water and then he turns water into wine. Jesus alone can fill any emptiness in our lives.
In this Gospel, Mary instructs the waiters, “Do whatever he tells you.” The greatest piece of spiritual advice comes to us from the greatest woman who ever lived. She tells us this because she knows that only her Son can fill us, that only he can give our lives meaning and purpose. Mary received the fullness of grace, and she wants our lives to be filled with God’s grace like those empty jars were filled with new wine.
As we begin this New Year, may our hearts be open to the Lord Jesus so that he can fill us with the richness of his love, grace, and mercy.
Father Michael Najim is Spiritual Director of Our Lady of Providence Seminary, Providence, as well as Catholic Chaplain at LaSalle Academy, Providence.