There is a story about an old and wise magician who had a mouse. The mouse was tiny and very afraid of a cat who would stop by now and then and frighten the mouse. The magician would chase the cat away every time and keep the mouse safe. But at some point, he got tired of doing so and turned the mouse into a cat so it would be safe and without fear. That worked for a while. But soon, a wild dog discovered the cat and would stop by late in the evenings and at night and terrorize the cat. Once again, the magician had to step in and, this time, turn the mouse into a dog. Again, it worked, but only for a while. This happened over and over until he decided to solve the problem once and for all by turning the mouse into a mighty lion. Surely, nothing and nobody would be able to frighten a lion roaming free and roaring with power. But soon, he learned that he was wrong again and nothing could change the heart of a mouse.
There is a crisis, a crisis of identity running deep into the very fabric of our communities and families and affecting the lives of our youth. The enormous variation of pressures from society and culture delude and distort our childrens’ understanding of identity, self-worth and who they are. The youth is pressured to think that they must fit by conforming their views and behavior towards gender, acceptable relationship and family models, religion, sexuality, what they like, how they act or face the possibility of social alienation and shame. Physical and circumstantial change is always proposed as a solution and remedy. But this sets our children on a dangerous path that leads nowhere and eventually results in a profound disappointment, heartbreak and grief.
As Christians, we recognize that no amount of physical and external change can ever change our hearts or how we feel about ourselves. We know and believe that no supernatural power or force in this universe has the power to change a human heart but only God. Therefore, it is so important for us as parents, families and Christian communities to equip, empower and guide our children to the true source of meaningful and true transformation – God in whose image and likeness they were created.
From the spiritual point of view identity, personal change and transformation are equally important topics. But here we see that the Bible and the church offer a radically different perspective, one where inner change and transformation is not physical, circumstantial, temporary and external but permanent, complete and centered on God. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you” (Ez. 36:26) echoes the voice and promise of the Lord through the pages of the Bibles.
Last week we celebrated the nativity and baptism of our Lord with a water blessing service, pouring a holy Myron into it and proclaiming that by doing so, the water transformed into an instrument of physical and spiritual healing and joy. Interestingly, a week after this the church assigns the story of Wedding of Cana as the Scripture reading for this Sunday, where we see how the Lord transformed the water into wine saving the newlyweds from the shame and humiliation of running out of wine during their wedding ceremony.
Christ did not simply bless the water or purify it in some way but utterly changed and transformed it on a molecular level into something entirely different, far more precious and desirable – wine. We believe in the God of utter and complete transformation. The changes He ushers into our lives when we turn to Him and invite Him into our lives are never cosmetic or temporary but permanent and beautiful in every way. Only He, as our creator and heavenly Father, has the right and power to truly transfigure our identity into something so bright and beautiful that we never thought and dreamed we could become and be. This is something we should remember and teach our children, guiding them to their true friend and role model, who will never disappoint and let them down, to whom glory and honor today and forever, amen.