by Fr. Tommy Lane
We would consider it a great privilege and honor for the couple in Cana and all their guests that Jesus was present at their wedding and performed his first miracle at their wedding (John 2:1-11). It was another epiphany or manifestation of Jesus following on the two previous epiphanies, the star guiding the Magi to Bethlehem, and the Father speaking from heaven at Jesus’ baptism and the Spirit descending on Jesus. We enjoy an even greater privilege here today when Jesus comes to us in the form of bread and wine and offers us his body and blood to spiritually nourish us.
Mary said to Jesus, “They have no wine.” (John 2:3) In the Old Testament wine is sometimes a symbol of God’s blessing. Through the prophet Hosea God complained that Israel had abandoned him and had gone after false gods, and therefore he would deprive Israel of wine,
“Since she has not known that it
was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and her abundance of
silver, and of gold, which they used for Baal,
Therefore I will take back my grain in its time, and my wine in its season...” (Hos 2:10-11)
Later Hosea says once again,
“Rejoice not, O Israel, exult not
like the nations! For you have been unfaithful to your God…
Threshing floor and wine press shall not nourish them, the new wine shall fail them.” (9:1-2)
Then the prophet Joel, looking forward to the end of time, predicts a glorious future, which we can see in Jesus, and which I would like to link also to the miracle at Cana,
“And then, on that day, the mountains shall drip new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk…” (Joel 3 :18)
So in the Old Testament God declared that when the people abandoned him they would be deprived of wine and when Jesus would come the mountains would drip with new wine. Now that Jesus has come the mountains are, so to speak, dripping new wine. Jesus provides a superabundance of wine, wine of the best type, new wine.
Not only is Jesus present at the wedding in Cana blessing it with his presence, but when Jesus became one of us it was like a wedding, the wedding of heaven to earth, the wedding of God to humanity. This idea is evident in the first reading today,
No more shall men call you
“Forsaken,” or your land “Desolate,” But you shall be called “My Delight,” and
your land “Espoused.” For the Lord delights in you, and makes your land
As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you. (Isa 62:4-5)
When people objected because Jesus’ disciples did not fast while the disciples of John and the Pharisees did fast, Jesus replied,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.” (Mark 2:19)
So when Jesus became incarnate, became flesh, heaven was wedded to earth, God was wedded to us, and Jesus is the bridegroom.
John tells us the changing of water into wine was the first of the miracles performed by Jesus (John 1:11). Jesus’ first miracle was showing that God was now executing a New Covenant since the Old Covenant had been broken by the Israelites time after time. Jesus was showing that the Old Testament prophecy about flowing wine was now fulfilled in him, and in him God is wedded to us.
A covenant is not just a contract. A covenant is more than a contract because a covenant is entering into a new family relationship. In the Old Testament God told Moses that he would be their God and they would be his people (Ex 6:7). When Jesus died on the cross he formed the New Covenant to form a new family in God which would include all peoples and Jesus uses the word “covenant” only once in his entire ministry, during the Last Supper, “this is the blood of the covenant which will be shed…” (Matt 26:28; Mark 14:24; see Luke 22:20). At Cana water was changed into wine; every time we come here to celebrate the Eucharist wine is changed into the blood of Jesus because God has formed a New Covenant with us. We would consider it a privilege to have been at Cana for the miracle but we are present here for a far greater miracle, a miracle which reminds us that we are the people of God’s New Covenant formed by Jesus shedding his blood for us.
Who was present with Jesus at Cana pleading that he would change the water into wine? It was his mother, Mary. Just as Mary interceded on behalf of that couple in difficulty in Cana she continues to intercede for us, when we are in need so we can confidently turn to her in our difficulties. In her role as intercessor on behalf of us, the people of the New Covenant formed in the blood of her Son, she is acting as our Queen. Who was the queen in the Old Testament? It was not the king’s wife but his mother. An example is,
“Then Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, and the king stood up to meet her and paid her homage. Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king’s mother, who sat at his right. “There is one small favor I would ask of you,” she said. “Do not refuse me.” “Ask it, my mother,” the king said to her, “for I will not refuse you.” (1 Kings 2:19-20)
You might say if Mary is acting here as our Queen does that mean that Jesus is our King? Jesus is the Son of David and possesses the throne of David as the angel Gabriel said to Mary,
“He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father…” (Luke 1:32)
but that throne is not the one that King David occupied in the Old Testament. Now Jesus’ throne is at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Mary interceded at Cana like an Israelite queen and she continues to intercede for us, the people of the New Covenant formed in the blood of her Son, because she is now the Queen of heaven and earth so let us turn to her in our needs.
I like to see Jesus’ miracle at Cana as the fulfillment of the prophecy of the mountains dripping with wine. In Jesus God is wedded to us, we are “espoused.” To form this New Covenant Jesus shed his blood for us and is now present to us in the Eucharist, and his mother Mary continues to intercede for us as our Queen. Mary, Queen of heaven and earth, pray for us.
Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013
More homilies for the Second Sunday Year C
Second reading see excerpt Enjoying Paul and Old Testament