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Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Wedding Banquet

- Marriage at Cana by Giusto de' Menabuoi ... hey, is that a kitty at Jesus' feet? :-)

The gospel reading for tomorrow (Sunday) is one of my favorites - the wedding at Cana ( John 2:1-11). Here below is what John Dear SJ has to say about it in his book, The Questions of Jesus ......


The first miracle Jesus performs is not the healing of a leper, not the recovery of sight to the blind, or the raising of the dead to life. Rather, Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding banquet so that the party can go on for days.

The details of the event shed light on not only Jesus' power but also his personality and his lavish efforts to celebrate life. We are told that there is a wedding in Cana in Galilee, that the mother of Jesus is there, and that "Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding." The next thing we know, they run out of wine. I think that means Jesus and his disciples make a spectacle of themselves. They drink all the wine! This may be partly why Mary approaches Jesus to report, "They have no wine." She also knows he can do something about it.

"Woman, how does your concern affect me?" he asks. In other words, "What do you want me to do about it? What can I do?" This is a reasonable question. What does his mother expect of him? Why should he be bothered with a minor social crisis?

"My hour has not yet come," Jesus tells his mother. In fact, throughout John's Gospel, "the hour" approaches gradually until at last it arrives, and Jesus is betrayed, arrested, and executed. But here, at the wedding, the story is just beginning. There is no hint of such a disastrous outcome. We do not know what that hour might bring.

Jesus calls his mother "Woman," the normal, polite form of address for his time. His question is also a common Hebrew expression, literally meaning, "What is this to me and to you?" But his question does seem cold. He is not eager to help. He does not want to make a spectacle of himself.

His mother knows, however, that Jesus is all heart. He will always help. She does not want the host to be mortified or the wedding party ruined. "Do whatever he tells you," she tells the servers. Jesus then obeys his mother and instructs the servers to fill six empty water jars, usually used for Jewish ceremonial washings. Each jar can hold twenty to thirty gallons of water. He then tells the servers to draw out some wine and take it to the headwaiter. In the process, the water turns into the finest wine. With this, we are told, he "revealed his glory and his disciples began to believe in him."

Jesus creates not only the best wine but an enormous amount: 180 gallons! Although there may be a mere fifty people at the party, Jesus wants everyone to drink and celebrate. With one gesture, he wipes away the entire Jewish purification ritual. He abolishes the Jewish ceremonial washings by using those water jars for a party, foreshadowing the abundance of wine at the messianic banquet. He wants everyone to enjoy the fullness of life here and now. Jesus repeatedly describes heaven as a wedding banquet, a party that never ends, with enough wine for everyone. As his first public act, Jesus gets the party off to a great start.

"Woman, how does your concern affect me?" Notice, however, the question is never answered by Mary or Jesus. Rather, we are left to ponder the question and the outcome. Whenever we ask Jesus for help, even if only for more wine, he may question us, but he will never deny us. There will be wine enough for everyone in Jesus' reign. He is determined that everyone have life and "life to the full," that there be no more violence, no more suffering, no more death, only celebration, peacer, and joy.

Mary knows this. We must know it, too, if we are to get on with the party, making sure everyone has life to the full.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite miracle! Not just because, like any good Irishman, I like to have a drop now and then, but because it shows the value of joyful celebration -- a good rebuke to those who believe Christianity should be dour and grim. I like the fact that Jesus does not only make wine, but that he makes good wine. I also like how the headwaiter's remarks imply that everyone at the wedding is already in their cups.

I also like the role of Mary in this first miracle.

3:42 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Liam, I like it too for similar reasons ... in that Jesus movie with Jeremy Sisto, he spends the whole time at the wedding dancing, laughing, drinking, and his disciples are really disappointed in him for not being dour and grim :-)

7:43 PM  

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