for the Best Wine
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is more than one way to answer a question. There is more then
one perspective through which we can view life. A young psychologist
was given a task of administering a new psychological test
that was meant to show mental flexibility of elderly people.
His first patient was a 91-year-old man. When the man came
in, the psychologist carefully explained that this would be
a verbal test and that some of the questions were very easy
where others were rather difficult. He asked the man whether
he was ready to begin. “Let's go,” the elderly gentleman said.
“Ok,” said the psychologist, “this is the first question.
Can you name two days of the week that begin with ‘T'? “That's
easy,” said the man, “today and tomorrow.” The psychologist
paused for a few moments, wrote a few notes, shuffled his
papers, and said, “Well let's go on to the second question.
Now this one is much more difficult, can you tell me how many
seconds there are in a year?” Without batting an eye, the
man responded, “twelve.” “Twelve!” said the psychologist.
“Yes,” said the elderly man with confidence, “the 2 nd of
January, the 2 nd of February, the 2 nd of March and so on.”
is more than one way to answer a question and there is more
than one perspective through which we can live life. This
is an important insight because it means that since there
is more than one way, we must choose which answer will be
our answer and which perspective we will adopt.
in today's Gospel Jesus gives us a perspective through which
we can view life—a very optimistic one. The gospel of course
is the story of the wedding feast at Cana and the key line
is the one uttered by the chief steward, “You have kept the
best wine until now.” The good wine was not served first;
the good wine was served last. The pattern of this gospel
therefore tells us that we are moving forward, that things
are getting better.
gospel reminds us that we as Christians believe in an optimistic
view of the world. That because of Jesus' death and resurrection
we do not feel that we are falling backwards but that we are
moving forward. We are moving forward to what is the best
possible thing: the establishment of the kingdom of God .
We believe that God is leading us not to something inferior
but to something wonderful, that the best wine is not behind
us but before us. Jesus presents this optimistic message to
us today. The question is do we believe it. Can we buy into
such a positive view, or will we insist on a more pessimistic
this light I would like to suggest to you two questions for
you to reflect upon this week. The first question is this
– Do you believe that the world is moving forward or backward?
Do you believe that human civilization is becoming better
or worse? There are different ways to answer that question.
Certainly if you center in on some of the horrors of recent
times such as the Holocaust, Hiroshima , or genocide in Africa
, a pessimistic answer seems appropriate. But is that pessimism
the only perspective which is possible?
is a French theologian by the name of Ren é G é
rard who has made it his life's work to chronicle the positive
developments in history. In G é rard's view such forward
movement is a sign of God acting in our world. G é
rard would argue that we who live in the world today have
more potential for a good life than any other generation before
us—that it is better living in the 21 st century than in the
12 th century or the 2 nd century. This is certainly because
we have electricity, air conditioning, medical advancements,
and education. But G é rard points out that the progress
is not simply in science and material things. He asserts that
there are more people living in the world today who respect
the rights of others then at any other time in human history.
That there are more people living in the world today who believe
that every human being has a value, even if that human being
is not of my family, or of my tribe, or of my country.
is that attitude universal? Not at all. It might not even
be the majority of the people in the world would not accept
it. Nevertheless, there are more people believing in human
dignity today than at any time before this. G é rard
would point to such an advancement as a sign that we are coming
closer to the kingdom of God .
é rard's perspective is worldwide. But we can also
look in a more personal direction. This leads to the second
question which I would like you to consider this week: Is
my life-getting better or worse? Do I see myself moving forward
or backward? Again there are many ways to answer that question.
If you happen to be in the midst of some terrible tragedy
or loss then your life can certainly seem to be falling apart.
Yet there can be another way to answer the question. For example,
many of us deal with the diminishment which comes from age
as we move to our 40's to our 60's to our 80's. We have less
energy, less health, our friends die. How are we to interpret
that movement? Is the only viewpoint that we are caught in
a downward spiral? Must we believe that with each day there
is less and less of life? Not necessarily. It is possible
to recognize that even as life diminishes in all these ways,
other things are increasing. Moreover, the things which are
increasing might be more important things—experience, wisdom,
patience, generosity, and thankfulness. If we find that those
gifts are increasing, then—even as other gifts diminish—we
can claim that the best wine is now.
those are the two questions which I would like you to reflect
on this week. Is the world at large and is my personal life-becoming
better or worse, moving forward or falling backward? Jesus
tells us that the best things are in the future, the best
wine has not yet to be drunk. We have to choose whether to
believe him. I suggest that we make that choice carefully.
Because the choice we make will shape our world. It will determine
whether we think that we are moving forward into darkness
or into light, whether we are moving forward to death or to