John’s Gospel is filled with many levels of meaning and there are always a great many symbols throughout his writings. But in today’s reading, I would like us to reflect on the fact that Jesus was invited to this wedding celebration at Cana. This is the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Here he is not the host of the wedding feast, but a guest like everyone else. Jesus’ ministry opens with him as the recipient of a gesture of hospitality. This beginning of his ministry is played out in an intimate, personal, and familial setting. With the sensitivity of his Mother, he is informed that the wine at the wedding feast has run out. He is moved to respond not only to the lack of wine but to free the young couple and their families from embarrassment and shame.
In his divine wisdom and creative imagination, he notices six stone water jars standing dutifully at the entrance of the home. These jars held 20-30 gallons of water. The water was used by the Jews for purification rituals of washing their feet upon entering the home, and washing their hands after each course of the meal.
It is here, within these water jars, that the power and the presence of God are experienced. Scarcity becomes abundance; shame is released and honor restored; the ordinary becomes the extraordinary, for simple water now becomes choice wine!
Let us pray that as we stand much like the stone jars, that God’s words of blessing may touch the waters of fear, anxiety, doubt, or resistance in us. May the “waters” be transformed into the rich “wine” of courage, serenity, confidence, faith, and mercy.
By Irene Zimmerman, SSSF
By Irene Zimmerman, SSSF
“The weather’s so hot and no more wine’s to be bought in all of Cana!
It’s just what I feared . . . just why I begged my husband to keep the wedding small.”
“Does he know?” Mary asked.
“Not yet. Oh, the shame!
Look at my son and his beautiful bride!
They’ll never be able to raise their heads again, not in this small town.”
“Then don’t tell him yet.”
Mary greeted the guests as she made her way through crowded reception rooms.
“I must talk to you, Son,” she said unobtrusively.
Moments later he moved toward the back serving rooms. They hadn’t seen each other since the morning he’d left her . . . before the baptism and the desert time. They could talk tomorrow on the way to Capernaum.
She spoke urgently, her words both request and command to him: “They have no wine.”
But he hadn’t been called yet! He hadn’t felt it yet. Would she send him so soon to the hounds and jackals? For wine?
Was wine so important then?
“Woman, what concern is that to you and me? My hour has not yet come.”
Her unflinching eyes reflected to him his twelve-year-old self telling her with no contrition: “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
She left him standing there . . . vine from her stock, ready for fruit bearing . . . and went to the servants. “Do whatever he tells you,” she said.
From across the room she watched them fill water jars, watched the chief steward drink from the dripping cup, saw his eyes open in wide surprise.
She watched her grown son toast the young couple, watched the groom’s parents and guests raise their cups.
She saw it all clearly: saw the Best Wine pouring out for them all.