The wedding at Cana
Although this story, the wedding at Cana, is well known, it immediately raises a number of puzzling questions. First, Jesus could have begun his public ministry in any number of ways. But before he displayed his wisdom as a teacher, before he exercised his authority as an exorcist, and before he manifested his power as a healer, the first thing he did was perform a miracle in which he, though unmarried, deliberately acted like a Jewish bridegroom by providing wine for a wedding. What does it signify? Second, why does Mary bring the lack of wine to Jesus’ attention? Given the fact that he is clearly a guest at this wedding, it seems strange that she would turn to him with the problem, rather than take it to the host. Third, and even more puzzling, why does Jesus respond to his mother in the way that at first glance, Jesus’ addressing Mary as “Woman” comes off as disrespectful, if not downright rude. Moreover, his declaration that his “hour” has not yet come is a strange way to react to Mary’s observation that the wine has run out. All she says is “They have no wine.” What has that got to do with Jesus’ “hour”? And finally, and most puzzling of all, given his apparent resistance to Mary’s words, why does Jesus then turn around and solve the problem of the lack of wine by performing a miracle? Clearly, the sign had some meaning to Jesus’ disciples. What was it?
It may take long hours to respond all these questions in detail. But in shot, the answer is, Jesus is alluding to messianic banquet of Isaiah. As a good Jew, who is obedient to his mother, he solves the problem at the wedding at Cana, and in doing so, performs a sign that points forward to what he will accomplish when his hour finally does come.
In order to understand this, let us move to the most famous prophecy in the Old Testament which is known as “the messianic banquet”. “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast of fat things, a feast of fine wine, of fat things full of marrow, of fine wine well refined. And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the covering that is cast over all nations. He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth.” (Is 25:6-8). There are three striking features of this particular feast. First, it will be a sacrificial banquet of wine. That is what Isaiah means when he talks about “fat things” and “fine wines.” In the Jewish Temple, both the fat of the sacrifices and fine wine were offered to God as bloody and unbloody sacrifices. Second, it will be a universal banquet, for both Israel and the Gentiles. Third and finally, it will be a banquet that will undo the effects of the Fall of Adam and Eve, for by means of God’s banquet, death itself will be “swallowed up,” and the sins of all the redeemed will be taken away.
So, at Cana what Jesus reveals is that he is going to be the bridegroom that Jewish people were expecting. That is why he chose this particular miracle as the beginning of his public life. It was just the sign of the messianic wedding performed, but the reality of the messianic wine is given by Jesus in the Upper Room and is consummated on the cross. Thus instituted the unbloody sacrifice of universal banquet which is the Holy Eucharist that which undo the effects of the fall of Adam and Eve. Yes, and now all who are gathered here is to participate in that wedding banquet. Yes, it is for this he came, to become eucharist and thus to unite all the people with God in an eternal wedding.
Although the wedding at Cana was a sign of Jesus’ future identity, it gives us a lot of spiritual lessons.
1. The image of wine is important to understand. In the Scriptures, wine is a symbol of joy, happiness, friendship, celebration, and blessing. Despite the best planning and human efforts of the couple, they could not sustain the wine in their marriage celebration. It is only when the wine runs out that what began as a human celebration could become a truly holy celebration. This is a very important message for all of us—we can’t do it on our own. We need Jesus, and we need to remember that the wine He offers is always better than the wine we provide for ourselves. Married couples often experience this truth in a significant way when they realize that the initial enthusiasm of their love is maturing and even dissipating. This moment of realization is always an invitation to grow more deeply in their marriage by becoming more closely united in Christ and receiving the new wine only He can offer.
2. The couple at Cana had invited quality people of faith to their celebration and it is a good thing they did! They invited Mary who interceded for them and brought their concern to Jesus. They also invited Jesus who came because they asked Him to be there. With people like that in their lives, they were surrounded by an encouraging group of friends and family who could help them through any difficulty.
The truth is that we are all dependent on other people to help us through the difficulties of our lives. Oftentimes we hear about people whose relationships don’t survive a moment of crisis because they didn’t have a supportive community around them that prayed for them in time of difficulty and encouraged them to remain faithful to their life commitments. This passage teaches us the importance of surrounding ourselves with people of faith who will pray for us, intercede for us, encourage us, and help us overcome difficult moments and to be attend to the needs of others and to be ready to help them in their difficult situations.
3. The married couples need the grace of Christ with them to keep them faithful to the covenant of marriage. Remember that Jesus was present at the wedding in Cana not by accident but because He had been invited. When a husband and wife pray together and intentionally ask Jesus to be the Lord of their marriage and family, then the Lord can do equally great things in their lives. There is an expression that says, “Two is company and three is a crowd.” When it comes to the experience of Christian marriage, we could really say that two is company but three is a sacrament when Christ is the third person.
4. How obedient the waiters are to Jesus’ instructions. Mary was very specific concerning the need for obedience to the word of Jesus when she said, “Do whatever he tells you.” The Gospel passage goes on to tell us, “So they filled them to the brim.” Because of their faithful obedience and cooperation with Jesus’ instruction, the Lord was able to do incredible things that the waiters never could have accomplished on their own. It must have seemed strange to the waiters to be filling water jars when the problem was obviously a lack of wine, but they followed Jesus’ words and they willingly followed His direction in their lives even when they didn’t fully understand it. It shows the need for obedience and trust in the word of Jesus is necessary for all disciples. Eventually that will help us to keep the best wine till the end.
May God bless you!
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