Jerusalem Bible © 1966 by Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday & Company Inc.
There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. When they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the wedding was all finished, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said ‘Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ There were six stone water jars standing there, meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews: each could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’, and they filled them to the brim. ‘Draw some out now’ he told them ‘and take it to the steward.’ They did this; the steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine. Having no idea where it came from—only the servants who had drawn the water knew—the steward called the bridegroom and said, ‘People generally serve the best wine first, and keep the cheaper sort till the guests have had plenty to drink; but you have kept the best wine till now.’
This was the first of the signs given by Jesus: it was given at Cana in Galilee. He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him.
Did you know?
Points of interest and Catholic lore
- Ritual cleanliness was very important to the Jewish people. It was the custom to wash thoroughly before eating or drinking, after coming in from the marketplace or the road, in case they had come into contact with someone or something that may have rendered them ‘unclean’.
- In John’s Gospel, Jesus performs only seven ‘signs’, and each is designed to reveal something of who he is. Here he ushers in the messianic banquet, a symbol of the Messiah often used in the Jewish Scriptures.
- This is the third of the ‘manifestations’ of Christ, read in succession over the last three weeks.
Exploring the Word
In the Gospel of John, this is the first public act of Jesus, and it is the woman, his mother, who initiates this first display of his divine origins when he ‘let his glory be seen’. Her total trust that he will respond to her observation helps to explain why we look to Mary as a model of faith and discipleship. Jesus takes the symbol of the old rituals of Israel—the water for ritual cleanliness—and transforms it into something new. This is a recurring motif in John. Another recurring theme is that of ‘the hour’ of Jesus. In John’s Gospel, ‘the hour’ will not be finally fulfilled until the supreme moment when Jesus shows the fullness of his love for both his Father and for all people; the moment when he is ‘lifted up’ on the cross. This story is about much more than the performance of a miracle at a wedding feast. In the performance of this sign, Jesus reveals something of the power and glory of God operating in and through him, and it is this revelation of the glory of God that has a transformative effect on his disciples as they come to believe in him. The miracle at Cana announces the richness of the gifts of God that Jesus has come to dispense, and for the disciples and for all who come to believe in Jesus, this is a life-changing event.
- In what ways has your encounter with the richness of God’s bounty been a life-changing experience?
- How do you now experience the abundance of God in your life?
Opportunities for group discussion and personal prayer
- What makes you believe?
- What does Jesus provide for you?
- Where or how do you experience God’s glory?
- ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ What do you think Jesus is telling you at this point in your journey?
- Offer hospitality in abundance to someone in need this week.
- Share stories of wonderful meals or banquets that you have experienced? What were the occasions? Describe the abundance. What effect did it have on those who shared the experience?
- Repeat often this week:
Lord, you provide drink for my thirst
and food for my hunger.
Lord, may I always share in your abundance.
Sharing the tradition
Marriage is one of the seven sacraments of the Church, and this gospel text has a particular significance. ‘The Church attaches great importance to Jesus’ presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ’s presence’ (CCC, §1613).
- Discuss the sacramental understanding of marriage.
- Discuss the way that the love of God can be seen to be mirrored in the love of husband and wife for each other.
- You could look at the structure of the Marriage Rite and some of the prayers to see how these reflect the sign of Christ’s presence.
Symbols and images
In the Old Testament, one of the images often used to describe the coming of the Messiah and the kingdom of God was a feast of great abundance. In this gospel, Jesus changes an extraordinary amount of water into wine. John is saying that the Messiah has come; the messianic banquet has begun; Jesus has inaugurated the kingdom of God. The abundance of God is already available.
Living the Word
- Are there social occasions when your community comes together to share food and wine? Is it possible to involve the catechumens in these social occasions as a way of welcoming them?
- You could use a carafe of wine and the open Scriptures as a focus for prayer. A suitable song could be ‘Taste and see/Drink in the richness’ (GA 35). Pray for all those who do not have enough food or drink to sustain them. Pray for the abundance of God’s blessing on your journey. Conclude with the prayer of exorcism in the RCIA at §94K.