The miracle in today’s Gospel – the first that appears in John – is one of the most well-told miracles in the accounts of Jesus’s life. We are invited to join Jesus, his family and friends at a wedding celebration, where a calamity occurs: the wine runs out.
It is not Jesus who first notices the issue, but Mary his mother. When she discovers what’s happened she tells the attendants to do whatever Jesus tells them.
The large stone jars (and they were indeed large!) used in the miracle have significance beyond what we often realise. At the time it was customary for these jars to be used for the Jewish rite of purification. They were not jars set aside for the storage of wine. When, as a response to a lack of wine, Jesus asked the attendants to fill them with water, they will have thought it was strange. How could this bring wine, they might ask. But when they found out that the water had miraculously turned into wine, the people would have marvelled. It is significant that Jesus uses the jars set aside for the rites of purification; by doing so, he is giving us a foretaste of the Eucharist: his blood cleansing the people, his blood being shed and consumed in community for the purification of all, and a vision of the heavenly banquet at which the Lord provides.
Imagine being those attendants. If, as a response to the crisis, a man whom we didn’t know asked us to start filling containers with water, what should we do? In many ways we are those attendants in the Gospel. Our Lord asks us to do things that many in the world do not understand. At the end of the day, how do we respond to those strange requests? For example, when Our Lord asks us to love our enemies: do we simply obey like the wedding attendants or do we say that’s a silly thing to do because many of those around us aren’t doing it? Do we embrace the Lord’s commands and precepts, or do we pretend to not hear them?
Our Lady’s words are what we must remember: ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ They suggest that not everything will sound like an easy command. Simply listen and respond, regardless of whether we find it easy or hard, regardless of how popular or unpopular it makes us. This is the nature of discipleship, and we are gracefully inspired by the insightful words of Mary who knew what it was to live a difficult vocation.
So, aside from the wonder of the miracle, this great happening in the Gospel points deep into the challenges and the difficulties of our own personal lives of faith. What, when we listen to the words of Scripture, is our response?
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit
A reading from the holy Gospel according John 2:1-11
Glory to you, O Lord.
There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. When they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the wedding was all finished, the mother of Jesus said to him,
‘They have no wine‘.
‘Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.’
His mother said to the servants,
‘Do whatever he tells you.’
There were six stone water jars standing there, meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews: each could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants,
‘Fill the jars with water’, and they filled them to the brim.
‘Draw some out now’ he told them ‘and take it to the steward.’
They did this; the steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine. Having no idea where it came from – only the servants who had drawn the water knew – the steward called the bridegroom and said;
‘People generally serve the best wine first, and keep the cheaper sort till the guests have had plenty to drink; but you have kept the best wine till now’.
This was the first of the signs given by Jesus: it was given at Cana in Galilee. He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.