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.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ 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 th
em up to the brim. 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), 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.’ Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. John 2: 1-12
The Wedding Feast at Cana is a wonderful little passage. Jesus, having called the first of his disciples, does a very natural thing in his cultural context: he goes to a wedding. Weddings, in first century Palestine, were not a several hours affair; they last up to a week! Friends and relatives were invited and people traveled great distances and stayed with folks in the town of the wedding. Jesus, here in Cana, will perform the first of his “signs” or miracles. He is initially reluctant to intervene, at the request of his mother, when the party hits a snag: no more wine. Yet, he ultimately yields to his mother and transforms water in wine, up to 180 gallons, by my humble calculations. Well, the party must go on! But was this merely Jesus’ coming out party, his introduction to his ability to do “wonders” or is there more here?
The parish where I first served, St. Mary’s, Columbia, have beautiful stained glass throughout the church that tell of how Mary was present to the life of Jesus throughout. And there is a stain-glass rendering of the miracle at Cana, showing the very moment when the water was turned to wine. I spent much time praying and reflecting in front of that piece of art that said something to me about the transformative power of Jesus. Christ intervenes into our lives and transforms crisis, pain, hopelessness or lostness into something palpably new, fresh, and filled with potential. Jesus transforms the sometimes-stagnant water of our lives into something that brings out the joy in us. What we become, when Jesus breaks into us, may not be wine but it is something we can use to become more aware of God’s redeeming presence in us to life.