I really love our Gospel today. I can honestly say that it is one of my very favorite stories of the Bible. While the actual narrative is fairly short, if one would take the time to consider the detail of what’s going on in this story, to consider and imagine the reality of what’s taking place in each of the lines John presents us with, one could very well walk away with the idea for a best-selling novel, or hit movie, or on a more practical plain, some real solid take a-ways that can radically deepen our spiritual life.
Now my guess is that if you asked several people what the Wedding Feast at Cana was all about that some of the most common things we might hear is that it is where Jesus performed his first miracle, what John called a sign. Others would say, or add to that, that the events of Cana was the start of Jesus’s ministry, that it served as his “Coming Out Party” if you will.
While it indeed was a “Coming Out Party” of sorts for Jesus and his ministry, it can also be seen as the “Coming Out Party” for another character in the story as well, and possibly, even for a third. Let me explain what I mean and what it is that we can possibly take away from each of these “Coming Out Party’s” and or revelations. Let’s start with Jesus…
While I’m using the description of a “Coming Out Party”, the reality is that Jesus had actually already began his ministry, just a few days prior in fact to going to the wedding at Cana. You see, John tells us in the chapters preceding this story that Jesus had begun to assemble his disciples. Named specifically by John as being called were Andrew, his brother Peter, Phillip, and Nathanael. Jesus had even given a sign to the skeptical Nathanael prior to Cana telling him that although he had been in another town at the time that he saw him sitting under a fig tree. Nathanael’s response was, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God.” Jesus’ comment back, and I’m paraphrasing, was, “you ain’t seen nothing yet, come follow me.”
So today’s Gospel begins by telling us that Jesus and his mother were invited to a wedding in the town of Cana, about nine miles north of their home town of Nazareth. It also tells us that Jesus disciples were also invited. I guess that Jesus was so well liked that any of his friends would have been welcomed by anyone he visited, including the wedding party at Cana. So at a minimum, Jesus goes to the wedding accompanied by his mom, and these four newly called disciples.
Now let’s think about that for a moment. According to John, Jesus had just met and called these four men just a few days before and yet they are now willing to hike 9 miles to attend a wedding of a family they likely didn’t even know. Who does that? The only explanation I can think of is that over the course of those few days those four men had conversations with Jesus that were utterly life changing, that were told with such authority that they would have hiked 20 miles with him that day just to hear him speak.
So Jesus, Mary, and at least these four new friends of Jesus find themselves in Cana in the middle of a wedding feast. Now wedding feasts at that time were truly a celebration and they lasted for days. So the party is in full bloom when Mary, the intuitive mother she is, notices something is wrong.
Perhaps she notices the head waiter whisper something into the father of the bride’s ear and then sees a look of shock and dismay come across his face. Perhaps the father next follows the head waiter into the kitchen, and Mary, who obviously knows the man, out of concerns follows him to find out what has him so disheveled.
When she learns that he has run out of wine she immediately knows the social ramifications and embarrassment it would cause this man, his daughter the bride, and his family. You see, running short on wine at such a celebration would indeed been a major party foul and that error would of surely made that family the talk of the town for months to come, and not in a good way.
So I can envision Mary calming talking to that father, telling him that everything is going to be alight, that she’s got it handled. Her next move is to her Son. She explains in detail what has happened, what was happening. After listening to his mother Jesus turns and says to her, “Women, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” The reality is that back then the term ‘Women’ was and enduring one, a sign of affection. Using a little poetic license and placing myself into the scene, I can see Jesus response possibly more like, “Mother, the women I adore, it’s not my time quite yet. You understand, right?”
Now Mary’s response is interesting. Her eyes are on Jesus, listening to what he says second, the next, she turns to the server. Without saying a word back to Jesus, and says, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now that’s authority! Now that’s a mother!
I can just imagine Jesus rolling his eyes after this, saying something like, “Ma, really Ma?” But what does he do? He turns to the servers and orders them to bring out 6 stone jars filled with water. For those interested, according to the Gospel that was between 120 and 180 gallons worth of water that Jesus then turns into wine!
In that instance, Jesus complies to his mother’s wishes, her “intentions”
And this is where we have the second “Coming Out Party”, the coming out of Mary to each of us. You see what this part of the story tells us, unequivocally, is that Mary indeed has the ear of her son and most importantly, that he listens to her.
And what are the implications for us? While they may be pretty clear, let me build up where I’m heading with this just a little bit before I come out and state the obvious…
Let me do so first by asking you a couple of questions… How many of you have ever prayed for someone else? How many been prayed for? The fact that we all participate so fully in this thing we call prayer shows that there is something to it. That there is a real power to prayer. And if you’re like me, the holier the person you get to say a prayer on your behalf, the more efficacious we feel that prayer is going to be. (for that reason, I love it when Dc. Phil prays for me!)
Which brings us back to Mary…The wedding feast at Cana introduces her as the best intercessor for our prayers. After all, there is no that ever lived that Jesus loved-trusted more, no one more that is holier than Mary.
I use that line of questioning about prayer when I am leading a funeral vigil or funeral service to introduce the saying of a rosary. I do it because typically such crowds are a mix of Catholics and Protestants and many of those Protectants present have a misconception about prayers to Mary.
They think that we are asking her to grant us request, and question why we do that instead of going to Jesus. They misunderstand that we are not praying to Mary as we would to Jesus, but rather that we’re asking her, who has his ear like none other, to take our prayers, our needs, to the very foot of her son… To ask her to offer our needs before Jesus just as she did in Cana for that Father. As demonstrated at Cana, he listens to her.
And so, which of the remaining cast of characters from our Gospel then might figure into that possible third “coming out party” Let’s precede with the story and find out…
After Jesus turns the water into wine he tells a server to draw cup and to give it to the Headwaiter. Note that this server was undoubtedly involved in the filling up of those massive jugs of water and the bringing of them to Jesus. What must have been that server’s reaction when he reached down with his cup into the jar, and finding the cup that ought to have been filled with water now filled instead with wine!?!? Was his hand trembling as he brought it to the headwaiter? Did he say anything, like, “Boss, you ain’t going to believe this?” Or was he so overcome by what he witnessed that he couldn’t even speak?
THE REAL QUESTION IS THIS; what did he do after witnessing, as John puts it, this sign? Could he contain himself? Did he tell others about it? Did he run to Jesus and throw himself at his feet and say as Thomas did years later, “My Lord and My God!” Did he, become a disciple, a follower of Jesus after this encounter? In sum; did that encounter with Jesus cause a “coming out party” of his own?
My brothers and sisters, in a real way, we are that server. While maybe not as profound as the sign the server had witnessed, we have all undoubtedly experienced signs of God’s love in our lives. Times and moments where God has touched us. And while the server had one dilly of an encounter, we have the luxury of knowing the rest of the story of Jesus and of the many other miracles and signs he performed, including, rising from the dead, which to even the casual observer, trumps the water into wine miracle. In sum; we have seen how Jesus’s life has played out over 2000 years, of the effects that he has had not only in ourselves, but on the entire world.
WITH THAT KNOLWEDGE THE REAL QUESTION BECOMES, have we had our “coming out party?” Are we truly all his? Are we all in when it comes to having Jesus a part of our lives? Are we truly carrying out the mission of the Church and the vows of our baptism to share the good news of Jesus? OR…. Are we standing on the periphery, on the outside of our faith looking in? Are we that server pre-wine, content with water? Spoiler, Jesus wants us to have the wine, the really, really good wine of Cana, the wine that blew the mind of the head waiter that day.
The story of the Wedding Feast in Cana brings us today 3 Things;
FIRST; A Miracle. But Jesus didn’t do miracles for the sake of doing miracles. There’s a reason John called them signs instead of miracles. After all, what do signs do? They point to something else. In this case, they point to the divinity of Jesus and his desire to fill us with the best of everything. In the case of Cana, he shared with us the best that wine had to offer. And noteworthy is that wine within the Jewish tradition of the time was a symbol for spiritual meaning. And when they had run out of wine in this story, (perhaps symbolic of the world’s depletion of spiritual meaning), who was it that provided the best wine possible, in quantities unimaginable??? You see it’s Jesus that provides his people with what they need the most, Deep and abundant spiritual meaning.
SECOND thing the Cana story provides us is the gift of Mary as our personal intercessor. Just as she cared about the needs and wellbeing of the Father of the Bride, so she does about each and every one of us. Want a holy person to offer prayers for you?...it just don’t get any better than going to our Mother!
AND THIRD AND FINALLY…We are the server in today’s story. We have seen the truth and must choose how to react to it. Do we choose to remain on the periphery, the sidelines of faith? Or, will we chose to drink freely from the abundant, and best wine, (again code for spiritual meaning/deepening), that Jesus has to offer?
Let Us Pray: Mary, our sweet mother. We come to you similar to the Father of the Bride at Cana, and ask you to take everything that our heart is heavy with, all our needs, the needs we have for others, and today, perhaps most especially, the desire to be filled with the wine, the good, good wine, that only your son can provide, and so willingly provides. Please take these, our needs, to the very foot of your son, for we know listens to you. AMENBACK TO LIST