• Fr. Peter Kavanaugh

Sanctification: From Water to Wine



I. Bucket after bucket, they poured water in the jars, up to the brim.

What was in this water? Heaven only knows. The hands and feet of a hundred guests or more had bathed in those jars. It was their custom to wash in them when entering a home. The practical reason was to remove the grime and refuse of the city. The spiritual reason was to cleanse one’s soul. It was a sort of confession. The dirt on the feet was a symbol of the sin in the heart. The guilty conscience, the embarrassing thoughts, the decay of sin, they were wiped off in that ritual. In both cases, the jars stood for everything impure. They were receptacles of filth. So, it was no small thing that Jesus Christ told them to fill those jars with water, and turned that water into wine.

The miracle at the Wedding of Cana is a sign of what Jesus Christ means in our life. The jars are a symbol of your soul.

When your heart comes into contact with God it will change. No passion, no addiction, no sin, no guilt, no pain, no anxiety, however dark or rooted, is unable to be transformed when it encounters Jesus Christ. And this is what it’s all about it. We have to give our selves over to God, not just a little portion or respectable tithe, but our whole selves. Let Him in so He can heal you.

II. “Our God is a consuming God,” Paul writes to the Hebrews (Hb 12:29).

“Who can endure the day of his coming,” Malachi declares, “who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify” (Malachi 3:2-3).

The psalms say of God, “You, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver…you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance” (Ps. 66:10-12).

Christianity isn’t easy. It means change. It means death – death to greed, death to lust, death to hate, death to egoism. There’s no such thing as a complaisant Christian, simply because the moment you’ve become complaisant you’ve stopped being a Christian. Christianity is repentance. A life in Christ is a life of purification. Why?

Think of that water changing into wine. Wouldn’t it be something to watch that? Imagine seeing it through the lens of a microscope: all the bacteria burning up, the hydrogen and oxygen sizzling, and before you know it, a rich and aromatic drink.

It didn’t start out that way. It started out filthy. It had to change before being palpable. So we too must change.

What’s the number one mistake that we can make? We settle for less. We get used to the filth. The first time we drink sin it repulses us. But little by little we build up a tolerance. We even cling to it, out of fear, stubbornness, or pride. If there’s one message in the Gospel it’s to stop drinking the refuse. God wants you to have the wine.

God’s first miracle was at a party. Why? Because God is a party. He is the feast. He is the wine, and he wants you to join Him.

III. God can turn the water of your soul into the wine of heaven.

How then?

You have to reach out and touch God.

St. Porphyrios was a monk in Greece who died in 1991. When his disciples wrote his biography, they decided to give it the title, “Wounded by Love,” for nothing better summed up his life. He was wounded by love of God. A happy wound which he could never forget and which grew and grew until consuming everything.

Well, in that book, St. Porphyrios had this to say: “Man seeks joy and happiness in heaven. He seeks what is eternal far from everyone and everything. He seeks to find joy in God…Everyone possesses this inclination of the soul for heaven. All people seek something heavenly. All beings turn towards Him, albeit unconsciously.”

Longing for God is wired in us, but that’s not enough. We have to act on it. We have to reach out.

“Turn your mind towards Him continually,” Porphyrios continues. “Learn to love prayer, familiar converse with the Lord. What counts above all is love, passionate love for the Lord, for Christ the Bridegroom. Become worthy of Christ’s love. In order not to live in darkness, turn on the switch of prayer so that divine light may flood your soul. Christ will appear in the depths of your being. There, in the deepest and most inward part, is the Kingdom of God.”

Further on, he writes, “The soul is sanctified and purified through the study of the Fathers, through the memorization of the psalms and of portions of Scripture, through the singing of hymns…through the repetition of the Jesus Prayer. Devote your efforts, therefore, to these spiritual things and ignore all the other things.”

The Holy Scriptures give the same advice.

The opening chapter in Psalms declares: “Blessed is the man… [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law will he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the waterside” (1:1-3).

The Law, we know, isn’t a list of rules. The Law is the Dao, the Logos…the Word of God. The more we meditate on Jesus Christ, the more He will change us inside out.

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you,” Paul urges: “with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Philippians 4:8).

How can your heart charge? That foul water in the cleaning jars, when it came into contact with Jesus Christ, turned into the most delicious wine. Reach out to God. Contemplate God. Talk to God. You too will change into a new creation more noble and more alive then you ever thought possible.

Don’t settle for the water. Reach out for the wine.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.


Saint Benedict Orthodox Church

3808 Seymour Road

Wichita Falls, TX, 76309

FatherKavanaugh@gmail.com

940.692.3392

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