This morning, I read a part of a sermon by Faustus of Riez, a 5th century bishop. In his sermon, he pondered the wedding at Cana and he connected the water and wine to the old and new covenant. The water was good; the wine better. Likewise, the old and new covenants.
He explained that the old covenant was an outward discipline and the new covenant as full of grace. This begs question, what is grace? How does it differentiate the old and new covenants? I think a part of the answer lies in Jeremiah who prophesied that the new covenant would be within us. Jer 31:33. So the new covenant is internal. We know that through baptism, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us, and I suggest that this presence is what grace is all about. In other words, grace is the Holy Spirit working within us. It is God in three persons working in and around us.
The old covenant was imperfect because it was up to humans, who are imperfect, to live it out. In the new covenant, God corrects this imperfection by placing his own spirit within us. When we turn internally, it is like the servants who brought ordinary water to Jesus. By turning internally, we give him permission to change us into wine. When we give him our all, he shores up our weaknesses, and through grace, our efforts are perfected.
Of course, the problem with this is that our efforts to give our all to him are likewise imperfect. It is for this reason that we call our spiritual life a journey, because it is through experience and reflection on experience, that we come to learn and to understand how to better rely on him. In effect, our afterlife will be without sin because by then our reliance on him shall be perfected. In the here and now, we learn to live perfectly in the afterlife.
Spend some time with the Holy Spirit seeking wisdom about your own spiritual walk. Do you live the old covenant? Have you allowed him to change you, who are like ordinary water, into the best of wines? Have you encountered grace in a way that helped you avoid occasions of sin? Talk to him about where you are in this process. Ask him to show you new and better ways to rely on him. Ask him how you can be like the servants, who brought the vats of water to Jesus, so that you too can be changed. Feel free to bring Mary into the discussion because she was the one who instructed the original servants on how to achieve the intended result. While Mary has passed over, she is still an active part of the Body of Christ; she is still there to mentor us through the process.