St. Paul tells us in the second reading: “There are different gifts but the same Spirit: there are different ministries but the same Lord; there are different works but the same God who accomplishes all of them in everyone. To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good”. Paul then proceeds to list 9 examples of the wonderful variety of Gods gifts to the Corinthian community. At the end of the list he again stresses their common source- God- and their common purpose- the good of the community.
If we look at our Christian community we will notice that we have a variety of gifts from God- in occupational skills some of us are doctors, professors, scientists, lawyers, craftsmen or tradesmen, others are cooks or seamstresses; in artistic talents some of us are musicians or singers, others are writers or painters; in interpersonal qualities some of us are strong leaders or organizers, others are good listeners or available helpers; in spiritual gifts some of us have immense faith or indestructible hope, others have a capacity to pray or interpret scripture.
But with the gifts come an awesome responsibility- the gifts are given not only to enrich us personally, but also to serve the community. So there is no room for rivalry or jealousy because others have gifts we do not have. Our diversity is a call to unity and our talents are a call to ministry.
In the gospel we hear about the miracle of Cana. This is the transformation of water into the best wine. What was colorless and bland becomes colorful and sparkling, a source of joy and energy. The Jewish religion had become bland, self centered, focused on personal purity. Now it is renewed and brings joy to others. Jesus transformed the religion of his time and made it more humane- the Sabbath is for human beings and not human beings for the Sabbath.
In Jesus’ parable the kingdom is often compared to a wedding feast. When the Pharisees complained that Jesus’ disciples did not fast he answered them that the ‘bridegroom was with them.’ In contrast with John the Baptist, Jesus ‘comes eating and drinking.’ We are doing things as we always have done, relating with family, friends and fellow workers as before. When we hear that the people around us have ‘no wine’ we see no reason why they should turn to us. Like Jesus we say: ‘My hour has not yet come”. We are afraid to get involved; we like to remain in our comfort zone, untouched by the pain of others. So often we act as if this is not our concern. Mary’s words to Jesus at the wedding at Cana are echoing in many countries today. Men and women have no wine to share with their families. Since the wine that nature provided by the festivals has all gone, plundered by the modern economy, industrial estates, calamities, selfishness and misdirected projects. We should transform water into wine and become agents of social change.
Jesus performed the miracle; nevertheless he had the help of servants. They brought the stone jars to him. If they did not then there would have been no miracle of transformation. And so the message of the gospel is not only that Jesus can transform the loss, the boredom, the pain, the betrayal, that any of us feel, not only can he restore hope that we once knew and feel the love that has gone out of our lives; not only can Jesus do that but he asks us necessarily, to help with the miracle. Jesus can transform the wine but he needs the help of servants to do that.
The annual strenna is a real spiritual and pastoral programme. It helps us as disciples and apostles to build the church and transform the world. It helps us to look beyond ourselves and see who is running out of wine, who needs to see Jesus.
On the occasion of the centenary of the death of Fr. Michael Rua, most faithful to Don Bosco and to his charism, the RM invites all the members of the Salesian family to become ever more and more disciples in love with Jesus and his enthusiastic apostles and to commit themselves to the evangelization of the young. He tell us: let us speak to them about Christ, let us tell them about our meeting with him, let us tell his story, let us give them the programme of happiness which He offers us in the Beatitudes, let us tell them how beautiful life is once he has been encountered and how much joy there is in being clasped by Him and being drawn into the cause of the Kingdom of God.
“Sir, we want to see Jesus.” In imitation of Don Rua, as authentic disciples and zealous apostles, let us bring the Gospel to the young.
Some groups of the Salesian Family are in harmony with this task. By way of example the RM gives us two passages fro the General Chapters of the SDB and FMA.
The XXVI General Chapter of the Salesians shows its awareness of the urgent need to evangelize and of the centrality of proposing Jesus Christ: we perceive evangelization as the principal requirement of our mission, aware that the young have a right to have Jesus proclaimed to them as the source of life and promise of happiness now and in eternity. The XXII General Chapter of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians then, recognizes that it is the love of God which urges us on: The Upper Room where the apostles were together is not a place for them to stay but one from which to launch out… love leads to exodus and to a going out of oneself towards new frontiers to make a gift of oneself: love grows through love…”
It should be recognized that young people are interested in God. All research confirms this. A high percentage says that they feel the need for God and that they are convinced of his existence.
The RM shows us how Don Rua was a faithful disciple. He was the most faithful, therefore the most humble and at the same time the most valiant of the sons of Don Bosco. Paul the VI decided the new Blessed with words which identified his fundamental characteristic: fidelity. The successor of Don Bosco is a son, disciple, imitator…
Michael came to DB because he had no wine. He came because he wanted to see JC. It had all started long before with a strange gesture. Eight years of age and having lost his father, with a broad black band fixed to his jacket by his mother he had stretched out his hand for a medal form Don Bosco. But instead of a medal Don Bosco had given him his left hand while making a sign as though cutting it in half. And he said to him, “Take it, little Michael, take it.” And before those wide open eyes gazed on him transfixed, he said six words which were to be the secret of his life: “We two will always go halves.”
More than one Cardinal in Rome, at the death of Don Bosco, was convinced that the Salesian Congregation would quickly disintegrate; Don Rua was 50 years of age. It would be best to send a pontifical Commissioner to Turin to arrange the union of the Salesians with another Congregation of proven tradition. But Bishop Cagliero called together the Chapter with some of the older ones and a letter to the Holy Father was drawn up in which all the Superiors, and the older confreres declared that in total agreement they would accept Don Rua as Superior, and not only would they submit to him, but would receive him with great joy… on 11 February the Holy Father confirmed and declared Don Rua n office for 12 years according to the Constitutions.
Pope Leo XIII had met Don Rua and knew that under his direction the Salesian would continue their mission. And so it was. The Salesians and Salesian houses multiplied. Don Bosco had founded 64 houses; don Rua took the number to 341. At the death of don Bosco the Salesian were 700; with Don Rua, in 22 years as the Superior General, they became 4000. The Salesian missions, which Don Bosco, had tenaciously begun, and during his lifetime had spread to Pantagonia and Tiera del Fuego, Uruguay and Brazil; Don Rua multiplied the missionary outreach and Salesian missionaries arrived in Columbia, Ecuador, Mexico, China, India, Egypt and Mozambique. He was also aware that peoples wanted to see JC. He was aware that the wine had run out in these places.
On order that fidelity to Don Bosco might not diminish, Don Rua travelled far and wide. His whole life was studded with journeys. He went to his Salesians wherever possible. Reading through even only rapidly the impressive number of Don Rua’s letters, or his circular letters, the volumes which describe his work as the Successor of Don Bosco for 22 years, one discovers in an impressive manner that what the Pope said is true: his fidelity to Don Bosco is not static but dynamic. He was really aware of the changing times and of the needs of the young, and fearlessly opened up Salesian work to new fields of pastoral ministry.
The strenna calls us to present Jesus to youngsters. God has given us gifts and talents and we must make use of them in order to make the community grow and develop. A life of witness is the most powerful medium of communication. Like Don Rua let us be faithful disciples, always dynamic, transforming water into wine.