Turning Water into Wine

01-16-2022Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Are you aware that the Gospel writer John is the only one who recounts the story of the Wedding Feast at Cana? In his Gospel, John makes the miracle that occurs at this wedding reception the first "sign" or miracle of Jesus. We may not realize this, as we are just at the near beginning of the Gospel of Saint John, but John is arranging to tell us that "signs" are a key element in understanding his Gospel and its meaning. Throughout his Gospel, as we read or hear it, we must always be looking for "signs" and then discovering and pondering their meaning. As a side note, not meant to be a distraction, we also discover that this great "sign" or miracle which took place was at the special request of his mother Mary. In reviewing the whole Cana story, do you realize upon reflection that the great amount of water in the urns which were to be used for ritual purification is to stand as a symbol for the whole of Jewish cult and Law? When Jesus ordered the urns filled up with water, He was giving the water a different purpose and mission. He also, in addition, at his special word transformed the water into wine. This is to symbolize the Eucharist for us. In a special way upon reflection, we can come to see that this wedding feast at Cana is about the revelation of the Messiah who has come to save us through baptism and the Eucharist.

Our first reading also uses images of a bride and groom and a wedding. In the passage, the words used by God include the language of a spouse and named Israel "Espoused" and "My Delight." We read in the passage that God will rejoice in the people of Israel as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride. We know that the reality and image of marriage is familiar to Israel, however in scripture it is God who first uses it in this way. In trying to understand the mystery of our extraordinary relationship with our God we can often find some of the insights or answers in our own simple everyday realities. The hidden is often obvious if we only look up and also look around us. The mysterious is often easy to see if we only look.

We come to understand in this Gospel passage that we are learning important insights and ideas about who Jesus is. We learn in various ways to a greater degree what the wedding of God and humankind means. To be sure through this famous wedding at Cana we come to understand that Jesus made a wonderful first impression and this impression has stayed through the test of time all the way down until today. The wedding at Cana opens up for us the understanding about how well it goes when humanity is wed to divinity.

I would suggest that you consider that when we are called by God, we come to life and are made new. We know we are different and new. We are now God's miracle for we have received a life that is fresh and new. This is a great miracle, one far greater that turning water into wine.