Epiphany #3: Generosity Makes us Human
A good friend and maturing spiritual master clued me in this year to the depths of Epiphany. I learned that, during this Christian festival of lights, believers for thousands of years have dwelt upon Jesus’ humanity. I like that. There is a sense that we got back permission to be human when God did.
This epiphany prayer introduces three important texts for the festival:
Today the bridegroom claims his bride, the Church, since Christ has washed away her sins in Jordan’s waters; the Magi hasten with their gifts to the royal wedding; and the wedding guests rejoice, for Christ has changed water into wine, alleluia.
One of the things we know about Jesus but is generally hushed is that he was a party-goer. He partied in such a way to make the prude religious leaders think he was a glutton and drunkard himself. But he was simply dipping deep into the wells of human fellowship and pure enjoyment of life. We could all use with a bit of good partying like Jesus in John 4. We get this image that Jesus was lounging in the background watching the banquet scene unfold.
The mother in law, after the busiest day of her life realized that they did not order enough wine. Luckily, they invited the blessed virgin. She persuaded Jesus to intervene. After he turned the vats of water into the choicest wine (thanks Jesus!), the master of the banquet makes the point: most folks get the guests drunk off the expensive stuff. Then they bring out the cheapies when the guests can not tell the difference anymore. But here Jesus helped the groom out in a big way: Jesus made it look like the groom went way beyond himself to treat his guests. I wonder if Jesus was making a striking point about humanity. True humanity will lavish good things even on people who will have no idea what you did for them. True humanity will spend its pocket on wasted gifts and memories that may someday never be remembered at all.
The poor will always be with us. We give our lives to see their saved selves thrive in a saved world. But sometimes, dying to self means partying like it is 1999!