There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from — although the servers who had drawn the water knew –, the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.
The Wedding at Cana is one of my favorite Gospel stories for a few reasons. First, it’s nice to know that Jesus had a social life. He had friends. Because we know that Jesus was God, it may be difficult to imagine His having a normal life, including friends who would invite Him to their wedding. But, of course, the Scriptures tell us that Jesus was fully human, as well, like us in every way, except sin. So, it makes perfect sense that Jesus had friends, for friendship is a marvelous part of what it means to be human.
The fact that both Jesus and His mother, Mary, were at the wedding suggests that the couple getting married were friends of the family. Perhaps Jesus and the groom had known each other as boys and had grown up together. Perhaps Jesus often had the boy at over to His home, where the two would play outside while Mary cooked, and Joseph worked on his carpentry. Perhaps it would get late, and the boy would stay for dinner before running home. It’s a scene not unlike many I enjoyed when I was growing up, visiting the homes of my friends. It’s a scene not unlike many that are played out today.
A second reason I like this Gospel is that it shows the influence of the Blessed Mother in Jesus’ life and, in particular, on the initiation of His ministry. Mary, like any mother, is concerned that the wine has run out, and the implications that will have on the success of the wedding reception. So, she, knowing Who her son is, turns to Jesus and makes her point: “They have no wine.” Jesus, clearly, isn’t terribly impressed, perhaps not as clued in as a mother and a woman might be to the potential social disaster. Remember, He was a man, and like us in all ways, except sin.
Jesus isn’t being rude in calling His mother “woman.” It was a perfectly normal and respectful response for the age and culture of first century Palestine. What is unusual is that He tells her that His hour has not yet come. Here we get a glimpse of the relationship between Jesus and Mary. Jesus knows Who He is, and He knows that His mother knows. He has a plan. He simply tells her that it’s not time yet to initiate His plan, His ministry. And here, in my mind, is the best part: Mary utterly ignores Him. She has no use for His plans. She sees a need. She knows He can meet this need. She dismisses His plans without comment, turning to the servers and instructing them to do whatever He tells them. The servers, for their part, have been listening in on the conversation. It becomes quickly apparent to them who is in charge here, and that it’s not the guy with the long hair and beard. So, they do exactly what Mary tells them, and look to Jesus for His instructions.
In the Gospel According to John, Jesus’ miracles are called signs, because they point to Jesus’ identity and mission. The Gospel tells us that Jesus’ turning the water into wine was the first of His signs. It revealed His glory. As a married man, it’s not lost on me that Jesus’ first sign took place at a wedding, the ceremony in which two become one by committing themselves to each other under God’s grace. Jesus’ first sign was a blessing to a newly married couple. He was able to extend that blessing to them because He was present at their wedding. He was present at their wedding because He had been invited. Jesus isn’t a wedding crasher. He says elsewhere, “Knock, and the door will be opened; seek, and you will find; ask, and it will be given you.” Our Lord is eager to bless us with His grace, but we must knock, we must seek, we must ask. The young couple being married at Cana invited Jesus to their wedding. We who are married can invite Him to our marriage, to be a part of the everyday struggles and triumphs of a life well lived together. He will surely bless you as He blessed the couple at Cana.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.