(Begin by reading the Gospel. Sometimes it is good to have someone read it to you. The Word is meant to be heard.)
The reading for this Sunday is called the Wedding at Cana. This is the account of the first miracle that Jesus performs in the Gospel of St. John. Miracles, we understand, are signs of the Kingdom of God, or indeed, signs of the King. As we consider this account, we will have to ask ourselves, what sign are we being shown?
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.”
Jesus' question is a good one. Why is the mother of Jesus concerned about the lack of wine? What do we know about wine in scripture? The prophets speak of wine when they speak of the fullness of the Kingdom of God:
Here on Mount Zion the Lord Almighty will prepare a banquet for all the nations of the world—a banquet of the richest food and the finest wine. (Isaiah 25:6)
They will come and sing for joy on Mount Zion
and be delighted with my gifts—
gifts of grain and wine and olive oil,
gifts of sheep and cattle.
They will be like a well-watered garden;
they will have everything they need. (Jeremiah 31:11)
The days are going to come, declares the Lord,
when...New wine will drip from the mountains
and flow from all the hills. (Amos 9:13)
Gift of finest wine, so abundant it flows from all the hills—everything we need. This is the fullness of the Kingdom of God. Is this what the mother of Jesus is thinking of when she tells him that the wine has run out?
Perhaps. Or perhaps, she simply feels the need of the bridegroom's family. She understands their problem and she knows her son can help. Does she know how Jesus can help? Does she know that a miracle could be performed? We do not know. All we know is—and this is most important for us—she brings the problem to Jesus. We can remember that when we have a problem. We can bring it to Jesus.
We cannot help but notice that Jesus is somewhat rude to his mother. We can imagine the reaction of our own mother if we said, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me?"! Jesus really is human. He still has something to learn. He says, "My hour has not yet come." What hour is he referring to? Jesus seems very reluctant to do anything.
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
The mother of Jesus does not let Jesus' very human reaction stop her. She knows he can help and she does not back down. She does not lose faith, and so, she makes room for God to act. We can remember that when we have a problem, too.
Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.
These are huge jars. Each one of them would weigh about 100 kg. Each one is the weight of a large man. Six stone jars filled with water, each weighing as much as an adult man. Six is a strange number to include in scripture. It is one less than 7, the number that is considered perfect. Six is just short of perfection.
He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew)
Yes, they do know. They have said nothing, but they have done exactly what Jesus has told them to do. With their willingness to listen, with their obedience, they have been given the chance to participate in this miracle. We can remember that, too.
the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
The steward has already served what he thought was the good wine. This wine is better. There before him are 6 huge stone jars full to the brim with the best wine. It is a gift of an abundance of the finest wine. Is this the Kingdom of God in all its fullness?
But Jesus has said, "My hour has not yet come." It is not yet the time of the Kingdom. It is just a sign. There are six jars, not seven. Not perfect. Not yet.
Where is the seventh jar of wine, the size of an adult male? Where is the wine to make the Kingdom complete?
I think we know.
When we think about wine in scripture, we do not think first of the prophets, do we? We think of the Last Supper.
Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:23-25)
His hour has not yet come, but it is coming.
Each of us has problems that we can bring to Jesus, not knowing how they will be solved. We hold onto our gift of faith, even when it seems like God will not act. We listen and we obey, knowing God will find a way for us to participate in miracles. We remember always that the seventh jar of wine is standing among us, ready to be poured out as gift for all. It is gift of the finest wine; it is the abundance of God's life. It is everything we need.