Monday, January 21, 2013

Jesus at the Wedding at Cana in Galilee

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel John 2:1-11

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 the 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.

Although we are using the Gospel of Luke for the readings most of the year, today we switch to the Gospel of John for the story of the wedding feast at Cana. This jump to the Gospel of John is due to the fact that the Church is dealing with the inauguration of Jesus over the first weeks after Christmas. In the Eastern church this inauguration is seen over three events – the Epiphany, the Baptism, and the first miracle at Cana. Similarly, we follow this pattern as well in the third cycle of readings. We have been all about beginnings. How better to talk about inauguration than to have the first miracle of Jesus done at a wedding – a beginning of a young couple’s lives together. So now we have seen the star, the light, that points out the Savior, we have seen Jesus’ initiation and acceptance by God in his baptism and now we witness the beginning of His work of redemption. Today’s readings pick up all three of these themes.

It is not by chance that John uses the wedding at Cana to have Jesus perform his first miracle. Not only is his presence a blessing of marriage, but he adds to the festivities with his miracle. This is a rather strange miracle, though. It seems a rather insignificant way to use one’s powers. Was it really just Jesus rendering hospitality to help a bridal couple avoid embarrassment? Raymond Brown, a Scripture scholar, sees the significance of this as Jesus replacing the old with the new. What you may not realize is that the water that Jesus used to turn into wine was contained in the jugs of washing water that was used for washing the feet when one entered a house. Apparently, in each Jewish home there were six jars of wash water at the door reserved for that purpose. It was part of Jewish ritual that a person wash the dust off their feet upon entering a house. In this way, the guests made themselves ‘clean” in order to celebrate with the householder. This is the water that Jesus then changes into wine. Symbolically, of course, we know that the wine will become his blood, and for the early Christians then, this became a sign of the Eucharist – which allows each of us to marry, become one with our God. Jesus’ first miracle then, is a celebration of the marriage of God and man, the marriage of heaven and earth, the marriage of divinity with humanity.

 I would like to say a few words about the story itself, however, because of Jesus’ curt response to his mother before doing the miracle. I know that it bothered me, so I did a little research on it. John Pilch at Georgetown University sees this as very typical of a Mediterranean male in this period. Children were raised by the mothers and mostly ignored by the fathers in the Mediterranean Hebrew culture. Boys, especially first born boys, were highly valued and pampered and spoiled by their mothers and other women relatives. When the boys entered puberty they often had a rude awakening, Pilch says, and the fathers took over the discipline, often giving beatings to a child to prepare him for a harsh world. The boys, then sought to break their ties with women and demonstrate their independence, especially their mothers. Jesus’ response to his mother could be translated both as a reaction by someone who is bothered by another or just as a refusal to get involved in someone else’s business. In light of this, Jesus may have been part of his trying to gain independence from his mother or it could be that he honestly felt it was none of their business.

 In any case, Jesus caves in to his mother’s demands. He was human, remember, and it may be that his mother’s pressure was too difficult to take. Or, it may be that he came to understand what she was asking, and saw it as a way to preserve the honor of the wedding hosts, who were perhaps his relatives.

 The first miracle at Cana, then, begins Jesus career as a miracle worker. He is beginning to replace the old with the new. In our Psalm today, we sang “Sing to the Lord a new song!” This is what Jesus is beginning to do. This new song will eventually replace the Old Law and lead to our salvation. With this first miracle the disciples of Jesus see the light and begin to recognize Jesus for who he is. But it is a miracle that looks forward to God’s true marriage with us in the death of Christ and the establishment of the Eucharist. With this initiation, Jesus ‘work of his Father’ really begins.

What I would like to leave with you today then, is the reality of God’s love for us, his marriage to us, the reality of our closeness to God in the Eucharist and that we must constantly be reminded that we are the ones who continue the work of Christ. How will we do that in this coming week? What is the new song that we will sing this week? How can we begin to transform our own little world in our own little ways?

St. Valentine Faith Community
Mass: 10AM Every Sunday
2670 Chandler Avenue
Suite 7 & 8
Las Vegas, NV 89120
702-523-8963 Rev Sue Provost, Pastor

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)

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