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January 16, 2022: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - Pastor’s Corner

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 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. (Jn.2:1-11)

As we enter into the Ordinary Time of the Church year between Christmas and Lent, John’s Gospel tells of the extraordinary, if familiar, story of the miracle at the Wedding Feast of Cana.  In the midst of the social faux pas of running out of wedding festival libations, Jesus works his first miracle: changing water into wine.  The rich narrative details, the human dimension and theological depth of this miracle story has fascinated and inspired many wise and holy reflections through our Catholic tradition.  Gleaning from this tradition, three aspects of this story emerge. 

First, Jesus works this miracle at the behest of his mother.  It is Mary who alerts Jesus to the want of waning wine, and although Jesus does not seem to respond with filial alacrity “Woman, how does your concern affect me,” Mary’s concern is catalytic for Christ.  (In the Gospel of John, Jesus calls his mother “woman” because of the connection Mary has with the first “woman,” Eve.  For St. John, God’s promise that salvation will come through a “woman” in Genesis comes to fulfillment in Mary). 

Second, Mary’s directive to the waiters to “Do whatever he tells you,” reveals the attitude which unlocks the miracle of God’s grace in our lives.  When we trust that God is in control of whatever situation or crisis in which we find ourselves, God can transform even the most insipid, fetid water into the robust blessing of the finest vintage. 

Third, Jesus’ miracle produces an abundance of wine: 180 gallons or almost 6,000 glasses!  Of course, the purpose of the water-turned-wine was to increase and prolong the celebration of a wedding.  Because of this miracle, a large number of people were able to stay around and celebrate with a couple who themselves has elected to form a deep bond of communion.   Here is a great spiritual truth.  This wine which is a symbol of God’s grace is that which unites. When any relationship, even a familial one, is based upon something other than God’s love - mutual self-interest, political considerations, shared convictions, etc. - it will inevitably dissolve, run dry and fail.  Without the wine of God’s life in our lives, our relations and human friendship will always leave us thirsting.

Finally, St. Augustine has a beautiful reflection that the miracle of Cana was simply the acceleration of the “miracle” of nature which occurs every day: “The miracle indeed of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby He made the water into wine, is not marvelous to those who know that it was God’s doing. For He who made wine on that day at the marriage feast does this every year in vines.  For even as that water was turned into wine by the doing of the Lord, so in like manner, also is what the clouds pour forth changed into wine by the doing of the same Lord. But we do not wonder at the latter, because it happens every year: it has lost its marvelousness by its constant recurrence.”  In other words, the miracle of the wine of God’s grace is always with us.  As we enter into this “Ordinary Time” of the Church year, let us give thanks for the extraordinary grace of God’s presence in our lives.

~ Fr. Michael


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