Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (January 20, 2019)

As a first step in "going public" goes, this first demonstration of Jesus' divine power is, to say the least, an understatement. No miraculous healing. No exorcism of demons, no raising someone from the dead. Instead, he simply prevents the caterer from running out of wine at a wedding reception.

Many might consider this a misuse - nay, even a waste - of Jesus' saving power. Initially, even Jesus himself seems to feel that his power could be used better - and later - elsewhere.

Not Francis de Sales. He sees that there is more to this miracle than meets the eye. Here is an example of how God's power permeates all human experiences, even the most ordinary. We are speaking here of the practice of the "little virtues," a notion precious indeed to St. Francis de Sales and a hallmark of his understanding of Christ's saving power. In his Treatise on the Love of God, Francis de Sales wrote: "It may well be that a very small virtue has greater value in a soul in which sacred love reigns with fervor than martyrdom itself in a soul in which love is languid and feeble." (Book 11, Chapter 5) Put another way, the little virtues, the expression of care or concern in seemingly ordinary circumstances, may be "found more pleasing in God's sight than great and famous deeds performed with little charity or devotion."

Still, there is a place for great displays of love: "I do not say that we may not aspire to outstanding virtues, but I say that we must train ourselves in the little ones without which the great ones may be false or deceptive." (Stopp, Selected Letters, p. 159)

Jesus may have been tempted to believe that changing water into wine was beneath his divine - perhaps even his human - dignity. In the end, however, the needs of others were more persuasive than the desire to make a "big splash" in the eyes of others. Ironically, it may have been Jesus' willingness to employ his heavenly powers for such a down-to-earth request that enabled his disciples to "begin to believe in him."

His greater, more famous and once-in-a-lifetime displays of power would, indeed, come later. But whether on the cross of Calvary, or at a simple wedding in Cana, the power, the promise and the person were one and the same.

The moral of this miracle? Nothing is too small for the Kingdom of God.