In today’s Gospel, the small village of Cana in Galilee is the setting for Jesus’ first miracle, and which John refers to as a ‘sign.’ This miracle is the first in John’s series of seven signs by which Jesus manifested Divine power and glory during His public ministry.
This ‘sign’ is given during a wedding when we are told that at some point during the celebrations the wine ran short. This was a difficult situation for the young couple and may indicate that they came from poor families. Among the Jews of that time, wine was not only considered a staple food item, but was also frequently used in times of celebration. To run short of wine at a wedding feast was certainly a serious problem, particularly damaging to the reputation of the host and an ill omen for the newly married couple.
When Mary pointed out the problem to Jesus, the reply seems, on the surface, to be a bit sharp. This, however, is to misunderstand the passage. Although Jesus addressed his mother as “Woman” or “Dear Woman,” the term was roughly equivalent to our word “lady” or “madam” and was not unnecessarily harsh. It was, in fact, a term of respect and is the same word Jesus used in addressing Mary from the cross, saying of John, “Woman, behold your Son.” Besides, by calling her “woman,” Our Lord is linking the Blessed Virgin Mary to Eve. Jesus’ next words are also easily misunderstood. He asked Mary, “What is it to Me. and to you?” This implies no rudeness on Jesus’ part. Probably, it means, “We are guests, and guests are not expected to supply the things needed at a feast.” Jesus further protested, “My hour has not yet come,” The “hour” of Jesus includes the Passion, death, Resurrection and Ascension taken as one great event. Despite Jesus’ detachment from the problem, Mary instructs the waiters, “Do whatever He tells you,” Showing Faith that her Son would do what the newlyweds and their families really needed. The Church uses the account of this miracle to remind us that, by virtue of her position as the Mother of God and our Heavenly Mother, Mary’s intercession for us with God has great power.
The love of God is manifested at its most powerful in the love between husband and wife, in sacramental marriage, that is, in a marriage in which Christ is the always-present Wedding Guest. As ministers of the marriage Sacrament, husbands, and wives, in their love for one another, mirror for all of us the great love of God in our midst. The fact that the abundant wine (120 gallons) provided by Christ was of such superior quality and taste also reveals the glory, satisfaction, sufficiency, and lavishness of the grace of Divine Life, He provides for sinners. Since it is God Who provides, we will lack nothing; however, to receive this gift from Him, we must be emptied, giving all, we have to Him. This is an anticipation of the “Wedding Supper of the Lamb,” in Heaven where God will give us every good thing forever.
We need to obey the only command of Mary, “Do whatever He tells you.” This is the only recorded command of Mary in the New Testament, and it is a prerequisite for miracles in our families. The Bible tells us how to do the will of God and effect salvific changes in our daily lives. We need to learn to appreciate the miracles of God’s providence in our lives. God, often as an uninvited guest in our families, works daily miracles in our lives, protecting us from physical and moral dangers, providing for our needs, inspiring us, and strengthening us with His Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus filled the empty water jars with wine, we need to fill the empty hearts around us with love. By the miracle of Cana, Jesus challenges us to enrich the empty lives of those around us with the new wine of love, mercy, concern, and care.
We need to appreciate the miracle of the Real Presence of the Lord on the altar. The same Jesus, who transformed water into wine at Cana, transforms our gifts of bread and wine into Jesus’ own Body and Blood, Soul, and Divinity, under the appearances of consecrated bread and wine, in order to give us spiritual nourishment. If our families have lost the savour of mutual love, let us renew them at the altar with the invigorating power of the Holy Spirit.