by Fr. Dr. Vadasseril Varghese, Sugar Land, TX
In the Old Testament, the relation between God and Israel was compared to the relation between a bridegroom and his bride (Hosea 2:19; Isaiah 54:5). Like many other weddings, this one became famous because of certain guests who attended. The names of the bride and groom are unknown, but from earliest times there has been much speculation. One guess was that Alphaeus and Mary, the sister of BVM, lived at Cana, and that this was the wedding of one of their sons or that of Alphaeus and Mary themselves.
An old Islamic tradition says John the Apostle was the bridegroom. Simon the Canaanite was also named. But all these are frivolous. The significant fact is that Jesus and His mother and His six disciples were present. The absence of Joseph from the narrative here and throughout the rest of the Gospels seems to indicate that he had deceased during the time since the visit to the temple when Jesus was twelve (Bar-Mitzvah at 13).
With very good intention a person wrote that "Our Lord might have meant that His hour was not yet come to make use of wine as a means of Salvation."
In order to understand His using of "hour" more fully, consider the words, "My hour is not yet come."
The "hour" obviously refers to His Cross, not His public mission. Whenever the word "Hour" is used in the New Testament, it is used in relation to His Passion, death and glory. References to this "Hour" are made seven times in John alone. These are noted below:
(1) Jesus said........my hour has not yet come (2:4).
(2) Therefore they sought to .... because His hour had not yet come (7:30).
(3) These words......for His hour had not yet come (8:20).
(4) But Jesus answered.......the hour has come....(12:23).
(5) Now my soul ........came to this hour..... (12:27).
(6) Indeed the hour is......(16:32).
(7) Jesus spoke these words......the hour has come....(17:1). (All references from NKJV).
The "Hour" therefore, referred to His glorification through Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension. At Cana, our Lord was referring to Calvary and saying that the time appointed for beginning the task of Redemption was not yet at hand. His mother was asking for a miracle; He was implying that a miracle/sign would be a sign of His Divinity which will be the beginning of His Death. The movement He showed Himself before men as the Son of God, He would draw down upon Himself their hatred. The evil can tolerate mediocrity.
There were two occasions, in His life, His human nature seemed to show an unwillingness to take on His burden of suffering. In the Garden, He asked His Father if it be possible to remove His chalice of woe. But He immediately submitted to His Father's will, "not my will, but Thine be done." The same apparent reluctance was also manifested in His mother's request. Cana was a rehearsal for Golgotha. There is a parallel between His Father's bidding Him to His public death and His mother's bidding Him to His public life. Obedience triumphed in both cases; at Cana the water was changed into wine; at Calvary, the wine was changed into blood. He would go to the Cross with double commission, one from His Father in heaven, and the other from His mother on earth.
As soon as He had consented to begin His "Hour," he proceeded immediately to tell her that her relation with Him would be changed. Until then, she had been known as the mother of Jesus of Nazareth. But now that He was launched on the work of Redemption, she would be no longer be just His mother, but also the mother of all His human brethren whom He would redeem. To indicate this new relationship, He now addressed her, not as "Mother" but as the "Universal Mother" or "Woman" (Gune). When Adam fell, God spoke to Satan and foretold that He would put enmity between his seed and the "Woman." The "woman" did have a seed, and it was her Seed that was standing now at the marriage feast. That Seed which would fall to the ground and die and then springs forth into new life. As Jesus was a man, she was His mother; and as He was a Savior, she was also the mother of all whom He would save. John the apostle, who was present at the wedding, was also present at the climax of the "Hour" on Calvary. On the Cross, He consoled His mother by giving her another son, John, and with him the whole of redeemed humanity. She is our Mother too. At Cana, she gave Him as a Savior to sinners; on the Cross He gave her a refuge to sinners.
Jesus suggested that His first miracle would lead unmistakingly to His Cross and death, and that Mary would become henceforth a Mother of Sorrow as prophesied by Simeon. She turned to the wine steward and said "Do whatever He tells you" (John 2:5). It suggests that follow Him and His commandments and not to follow her. The six water pots were filled with water, in the beautiful language of Richard Crashaw "the conscious water saw its God and blushed."
The first miracle was something like creation itself; it was done by the power of "the Word." "Every man at the .............good wine until now" (John 2:10). The poor wine had been the prophets, judges, and kings, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joshua, Elias all were like the poorer wine expecting the True and best wine. The world generally gives its best pleasures first; afterward come the dregs and the bitterness. But Christ reversed the order and gave us the feast after fast, the Resurrection after the Crucifixion, the joy of Easter Sunday after the sorrow of Good Friday.
Thus He did at a marriage feast what He would not do in a desert; He worked the miracle in the full gaze of men what He refused to do before Satan. Satan asked Him to turn stones into bread in order that He might become an economic Messiah; His mother asked Him to change water into wine that He might become a Savior. Satan tempted Him from death; Mary "tempted" Him to death and Resurrection. Satan tried Him away from Cross; Mary sent Him toward it. Later, He would take hold of the bread that Satan had said men needed, and the wine that His mother had said the wedding guests needed, and He would change both into the memorial of His Passion and His Death unto the consummation of the world which proclaims "This is My Body and Blood." (Studies in the Life of Christ: R.C. Foster/F.J. Sheen).
Great Lent Resources - Home
Devotional Thoughts for Kothanae Sunday and the Marriage at Cana
by: Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil
Meditation on Kothine Sunday
by HG Yuhanon Mor Meletius
Devotional Thoughts for Kothine Sunday
by Jose Kurian Puliyeril
The Water Blushed
by George Verghese
Water Turned in To Good Wine at Cana: Spiritual Implications
by Dn. Monsy Manimalethu Jacob
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