This is the first miracle of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel according to St. John. The first chapter established that Jesus is the Word made flesh, God incarnate. He then proceeds to call disciples to himself and begin his ministry.
The story we heard today begins with the words, “On the third day…” This is a hint of the greatest miracle to come, his resurrection on the third day of his blessed passion. On this day, the Lord’s Day, we celebrate that miracle as he changes ordinary wine into his sacred blood.
The miracle we remember from Cana is that he changed ordinary water into extraordinary wine.
Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding feast, and his mother is there, as well. Mary notices that the wine had failed, meaning it had failed to last through the entire feast. Notice what she says to Jesus; “They have no wine.”
She does not say, “Jesus, run to the store and buy more wine.” That is something my own mother might say to me! Instead Mary just makes the observation that they have no more wine. Jesus knows what that means. It would be a huge embarrassment to the family of the groom.
Jesus says to Mary, “Woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” That is the Revised Standard Version of the Bible which we ready every Sunday.
Another version says, “Woman, what have I to do with you?” The Greek version is more like, “What is that to me and you, woman?”
Some people think Jesus is being a bit rude to his mother, but we must remember from the teaching of John chapter 1, Jesus is God, through whom all things were made.
Jesus was Mary’s son, and he was also Mary’s Lord. She gave him his humanity, and she was created through Him. Mary’s son is both human and divine, and so he is Mary’s Lord, too.
St. Augustine wrote this:
His mother then demanded a miracle of Him; but He, about to perform divine works, so far did not recognize a human womb; saying in effect, “That in me which works a miracle was not born of you, you gave not birth to my divine nature; but because my weakness was born of you, I will recognize you at the time when that same weakness shall hang upon the cross.” This, indeed, is the meaning of “My hour has not yet come.”
Jesus did recognize his mother there at the foot of the cross when he said to her, “Woman, behold your Son; and to John, behold your mother. He was placing them into each other’s care.
Mary understands that Jesus is her Lord, and does not rebuke him. Instead, she tells the servers, “What ever he says to you, do it.” By the way, the word for “servers” is diakonoi, from which we get the word, Deacon.
So Jesus, after he seems to put off his mother, sees there are six stone jars capable of holding twenty or thirty gallons. He tells the servers to fill the jars with water, which they do to the brim.
The jars were there for the Jewish rite of purification, meaning the guests could baptize, or wash, their hands before eating. Here is an instance of Jesus disregarding the ritual purity laws, which he does time and time again during his ministry on earth. Later on, he and his disciples will be criticized by the Pharisees for eating without washing his hands.
He then tells the servers to draw some water and take it to the steward. Notice there is no prayer, no blessing, no saying grace even. The water has simply become wine in the presence of Jesus.
Later, Jesus will use wine at the last supper, and transform it into his sacred blood. In a few minutes, he will do it again on this altar.
The wedding at Cana has more significance, in that it prefigures the relationship that we have with Jesus. Many of the parables taught by our Lord are reminiscent of the Jewish wedding customs of his day. There are many references to Jesus as the bridegroom who came to earth looking for a bride.
The reading from Isaiah we heard today is a love song from the LORD to his chosen people, Israel.
Verse 5 says, “For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”
Of course, we know that the bride of Christ is not a virgin, and has a long history of unfaithfulness. Israel had been unfaithful to the LORD time and time again throughout history, as told by the prophets, but the love of the LORD was so great, that he is quick to forgive and take them back.
He is always quick to forgive us, too. He doesn’t care about the past. He does care about the future. He has made a promise to be faithful to us, and we make a promise to be faithful to him. That is what he calls a covenant. He seals the New Covenant with his blood.
A wedding is one of the most joyous occasions for a family because it is the culmination of love for the son of one family and the daughter of another. It is the promise of new life, as the love of the man and the woman will produce children, if it is God’s will, and grandchildren, which as we grandparents know, is the greatest gift!
A wedding is a time for feasting for a family, just as was the case for the wedding at Cana. The feast provided an opportunity for the LORD to show his love for his people.
While it seems that Jesus is a bit reluctant to reveal himself as the Messiah by performing a miracle, he blesses the wedding couple by blessing the feast with the best wine. It is not some watered down grape juice that just will just get them by, but some very fine wine that draws praise from the guests. Jesus doesn’t do things half way!
We, as the bride of Christ, are not perfect. We have not been faithful. Our Father in heaven loves us anyway, and so we are betrothed to Jesus the groom.
When he returns, he will take us to his Father’s house, where we will dwell in the House of the LORD forever. Let the feast begin! Amen.