Wed, January 12, 202210 mins readFather Hans Buob

2nd Sunday

Biblical Homilies on the Sunday Gospels in Reading Year C

The Wedding at Cana. Ⓒ Picture by Lawrence OP on Flickr. Mosaic by Fr Marko Rupnik SJ from the National Shrine of St John Paul II.

Bible passages


John 2:1-11

On the third day, a wedding took place in Cana of Galilee, and Jesus' mother was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, Jesus' mother said to him, "You have no more wine. Jesus replied to her, "What do you want from me, woman? My hour has not yet come. His mother said to the servants: What he says to you, do! There were six stone water jars there, according to the purification custom of the Jews; each held about a hundred liters. Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water. And they filled them to the brim. He said to them, "Draw now and bring it to the one who is in charge of the banquet! They brought it to him. The latter tasted the water that had become wine. He did not know where the wine came from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he summoned the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone put the good wine first, and only when the guests have drunk too much, the less good wine. You, however, have kept the good wine until now. So Jesus did his first sign, in Cana of Galilee, revealing his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

Biblical Homilies


"On the third day a wedding took place in Cana of Galilee, and Jesus' mother was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding."(cf. verses 1-2)

Jesus, after the baptism in the Jordan, where he was anointed with the Holy Spirit, has returned to Galilee, to the region of his homeland, his origin. And there now in Cana - that is below Nazareth - a wedding takes place. Surely Jesus was also invited to other weddings of acquaintances. Why does John now tell us about this wedding of all things? We must always keep in mind that this is the Word of God and John actually wants to give us a much deeper message with the external description of the events of this wedding.

First of all, it is interesting that in the first chapter after the prologue, John describes, so to speak, a whole "working week" of Jesus: It is narrated from the Sabbath, that is, a Saturday. Then it says: "On the next day...", i.e. Sunday, Jesus stood at the Jordan, etc.

And a few verses further on, the phrase, "The day after..." is repeated three times, giving us an overview of what Jesus did on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday respectively. Then it says here: "Three days later...", which means that the wedding takes place on a Friday. Now why does John tell us in such relative detail about the whole week leading up to the wedding, and why does the wedding take place on a Friday of all days? This Friday reminds us of Good Friday, of the great marriage of the Lamb, in which Jesus marries Mary, his bride, under the cross as the blood bridegroom. It is against this background, then, that we must listen to the message of today's Gospel.

"When the wine ran out, Jesus' mother said to him, 'You have no more wine.' Jesus replied to her, 'What do you want from me, woman? My hour has not yet come. His mother said to the servants, 'Whatever he says to you, do it'"(cf. verses 3-5).

After the wine runs out, Jesus' mother simply says to him, "You have no more wine." This statement, however, naturally also contains a request to Jesus. The latter, however, responds with a very peculiar question: the Einheitsübersetzung states here: "What do you want from me, woman?" (v. 4) But in the Greek it literally says: "What is yours, what is mine?" What is meant here is: What is your business, Mary, as my natural mother - and what is my business as the Messiah? For when Mary points out to Jesus that there is no more wine, we must assume that there is no more wine in the whole area, otherwise it could have been brought quickly. And Jesus would not have been needed for that. If there is no more wine to fetch, Mary asks Jesus for something else, something messianic or - in other words - a miracle. Therefore Jesus answers her with this question: What is your business as my natural mother? You are not asking me for something natural. If you had asked me to go with my disciples to get wine in the next village, that would have been in the natural order. But you are asking me for something supernatural. But that is not your business, it is mine as the Messiah.

And then he states, "My hour has not yet come." (v. 4) After all, Jesus often speaks of his hour. This hour of his is the hour of his death and resurrection. Until this hour has come, no one has power over him. No one can persecute him or even eliminate him. We will see this in more detail in the gospels of the next Sundays in Nazareth.

Now, Mary's reaction to this apparent rejection by her son is interesting: she says to the servants, "Whatever he tells you, do!" (v. 5) I.e.: If he tells you nothing, do nothing; if he tells you something, do it. So she leaves everything completely to Jesus. Here, this attitude of Mary, the bride or the Church, is already expressed. This is the parallel to Good Friday already mentioned at the beginning: just as here in Cana, Jesus will also address Mary as "woman" on Good Friday under the cross. There, too, Mary stands as the woman, as the bride under the cross. That is the decisive thing in this passage. And that is why in this wedding the most important people, namely bride and bridegroom, are not even mentioned, which is very striking. But this wedding of Cana is just the background, decisive is the relationship of Jesus and Mary. And what is only indicated here in the picture is then completed on Good Friday under the cross, when Mary, the bride, again asks the bridegroom for the wedding wine: for his blood and his devotion.

"There were six stone water jars there, according to the Jews' purification custom; each held about a hundred gallons. Jesus said to the servants, 'Fill the jars with water!' And they filled them to the brim. He said to them, "Draw now and bring it to the one who is in charge of the banquet! They brought it to him. The latter tasted the water that had become wine. He did not know where the wine came from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he summoned the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone put the good wine first, and only when the guests have drunk too much, the less good wine. But you have kept the good wine until now."(cf. verses 6-10)

Wine is the expression of abundance in the Scriptures. That is why the servants try to fill the jars to the brim, because God always gives in excess. St. Vincent Pallotti says: God always gives immoderately and if the creature would put no obstacle - and we have many obstacles in us: doubts about God, lack of trust, lack of faith or sins - God would pour into the creature in an infinite measure. So this measurelessness is wonderfully expressed here by the image of the vessel filled to the brim with wine: God gives measurelessly.

So this is about much more than ordinary wine at an ordinary wedding. It is about this immoderate giving of God, about what then flows into the world under the cross and from the cross, from the redemption of Jesus through Mary, the mediatrix of all graces. Mary is the First Bride, the Mother of the Church. She stands under the cross and asks for the wedding wine, that is, for the grace of God to be given without measure. And so also the whole Church, which is the Bride of Christ, stands again and again under the cross of the Bridegroom, asking Him for the wedding wine. We all ask for the fullness, for the measurelessness of his mercy, of his grace and of his love for people, especially for all those people who do not yet know him. Something so wonderful is expressed here.

And here we also feel this ambiguity of John: he uses this wedding of Cana and prepares it already, so to speak, by showing what Jesus has done all the days before, so that it becomes clear: This Friday, this day of the wedding, is no ordinary Friday. It is the absolute climax of the week and thus points beyond itself to something greater, namely to Good Friday. Hence this title of "woman" by which Jesus addresses Mary only in these two places, in Cana and under the cross. And this is also the title of the woman in Genesis and of the woman in the Apocalypse, the Bride of the Lamb. Mary is thus the "woman" par excellence.

At the same time, Mary also shows how we as the Church, as the Bride of Christ, are to behave toward Christ: "Whatever He says to you, do it!" How often are we - also in the church area, in pastoral work - so really active and try to do and regulate everything ourselves. There is so much running and toiling, organizing and playing - and yet, in a sense, we are a dying church in Europe. At present, for example, only 5.5% of Germans, i.e. about 4.5 million people, are still active Catholics, according to a survey. That is why it is all the more important that those who, like Mary, are still under the cross as the bride of Christ, ceaselessly ask for this measureless price, this measureless gift of God: the blood of Christ. We are redeemed by his blood. This is the wedding wine that the bride asks the groom for.

In a church in northern Germany, there is a stained glass window that shows Christ on the cross and John and Mary under the cross, and then a woman embracing Jesus on the cross with one arm and thrusting the sword into his side with the other, as it were. This is the bride of Christ, the Church, who, as it were, opens his heart and asks for the wedding wine, that is, for the fullness of salvation, for his redeeming blood. This is the background of this marvelous event in Cana. And the one who tastes the wine says himself: the good wine, that is, the best of the best, you have kept. And indeed, God has done just that for us, for our time in which we now live. This is a wonderful gift that we should appreciate much more.

"So Jesus did his first sign, in Cana of Galilee, and manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him." (cf. verse 11)

So at the wedding at Cana Jesus does his first sign and this is after the baptism in the Jordan. Before that, he did none of these signs, for he had stripped himself of his deity, as it says in Philippians. He was indeed God and man in one person, but he did not claim the deity, that is, the abilities and attributes of God, but rather it was the Holy Spirit who used Jesus' human nature as his instrument. The Spirit of God made it known to him what moved people's hearts, and it was also the Spirit of God who, through him, brought about the healings and the raising of the dead, etc., as we can also experience with the saints up to our time. This is the work of the Spirit of God and so this Spirit of God has now worked as the first sign after the anointing in the Jordan the sign in Cana. And it is not a merely incidental sign, but it wants to express something very profound towards the future, namely towards Good Friday. This meaning of the miracle of Cana remains for us today.

Even if Jesus already reveals his glory here and the disciples believe in him, this ultimately remains only hinted at and unfinished. For the final revelation of Jesus' glory takes place only when his hour has come, namely in death and resurrection. And the fruit of this death and resurrection is the sending of the Holy Spirit. Only then do the disciples recognize in the deepest sense the glory of Jesus and who he really was. Only then do they recognize and understand his word. For only then has the Spirit of God introduced them to the whole truth on the basis of the redemption, on the basis of the death of Jesus and his resurrection. They have seen "... his glory, the glory of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." (Jn 1:14) ∎