of the Springs
Contact Page Maintainer
|January 17, 2010 -- Second Sunday of Epiphany
-- Service Guide
From the Holy Gospel of the Day: The steward of the feasted tasted the water now become wine and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew). [John 2.9b; RSV]
St. John is not big on stories; only a few narratives make his God-inspired book that we call The Gospel According to St. John. And each of these narratives sets the stage for a significant point that St. John wants you to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. The second of these narratives concerns the Wedding at Cana. In this narrative, the central characters are not the bride and groom, though they are the grateful beneficiaries of the actions recorded in the story.
On this 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany of our Lord, the one-year liturgy presents this story to you, that you, too, might be beneficiaries of that the narrative presents to you.
There is a wedding at Cana, a town not too far from Nazareth, the home town of Jesus. Jesus is invited to participate in the wedding, as are His disciples. Jesus' mother also was there, and she approaches her Son with a looming crisis: the wine had just run out. The blessed Virgin intercedes with her Son concerning the need at hand that would surely prove an embarrassment to bride and groom and their families.
St. Mary takes her Son aside, and says to Him: “They have no more wine!” Now, Jesus recognizes this statement for what it is, a request that HE do something. Thus, He responds, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? Or, in a more literal translation from the Greek, Jesus says “Woman, what has this to do to Me and to Me.” Then, He adds what appears to be the trump card, “My hour has not yet come.” Nevertheless, Mary tells the servants, paraphrasing: “That's my Son over there. I have interceded with Him about this embarrassing situation. Do whatever he tells you.”
Jesus does do something! He tells them to bring water and fill six large stone jars that were standing nearby. These jars that held 20-30 gallons each of water were special containers, set aside for use in Jewish ceremonial cleansings. So, soon there are well over 120 gallons of water, sitting in these huge stone jars. Then Jesus says to the servants, “Dip some of this from the jar and take it to the master of ceremonies.” And they did, and upon tasting it, he is both amazed and relieved, for it turns out that there is more wine after all! And this wine is better than the previous wine.
So he calls the groom to the side and says, “You certainly have a unique style, my friend. Most people serve the best wine first, and later they can get away with serving cheaper stuff to dulled pallets. But NO! You kept the best wine until now!
And there it was: More wine! Even better wine, in unheard of abundance. This is going to be QUITE a wedding celebration! The groom and his bride smile, confused though they are. The servants smile, too, with really big smiles, for they saw what has happened here, though they wouldn’t be believed if they explained to their friends what they saw. And so this wedding celebration is destined to carry on, for a long, long time.
Consider what it was that the servants knew, for it is the first lesson in this event for you. God's grace in Christ for you is found in connection with what the servants knew. They knew what Jesus did at this wedding, though they didn’t comprehend how He did it, so that an unnamed young woman in the text for whom this wedding was being celebrated might be rescued at a time of desperate need. But, Jesus is there, and out of His grace, this bride in the text had her marriage blessed and her wedding saved from disaster by what it was that the servants knew.
Clearly, Christians discovering what the servants knew rejoice with this bride, for from your Lord Jesus the same mercy comes to you that came to her, especially when life seems to run out of necessities as well as luxuries. While you may have enough wine in the cupboard for any unexpected guest, life brings other aspects of life, where the resources of body and soul, possessions and honor, run dry.
Just then, there is Christ, who by His first public miracle reveals His glory, the glory of the Son of God, the glory of the love and mercy of the Father, the glory of the God of creation, who not only made your body and soul and all that exists, but He still preserves you. He still takes care of you. This is what the servants knew. They saw Jesus there at Cana providing by miracle for the human need, as sight not only witnessed by them, but by 20 centuries of Christian on-lookers. Jesus here demonstrates His true divine identity as the God of creation and preservation, whose love and mercy are sufficient also for you.
The second lesson in this text involves what Jesus said to His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is important, because she has long been told the identity of this son of hers. It was told her by the angel; it was told her by her relative Elizabeth; it was told her by the shepherds; it was told her by the wise men; it was told her by Simeon; it was shown to her in the temple when her son was but 12 years old. Again, and again the Evangelist Saint Luke reminds us that she kept and pondered these things in her heart.
Yet, Mary still has things to learn about her son. Even this day, at this wedding, she still is expecting her Son to be about the mission of miracle worker for mankind's ills and oversights. And Jesus must correct her: “What does this have to do to Me and to you? My real hour has not yet come. My real purpose is not this kind of miracle-man ministry.”
You too, learn an important lesson concerning the nature of Jesus and His earthly ministry. His earthly ministry will involve many miracles–“signs” as Saint John calls them–of which this is but the first. Yet, the signs are not ends in themselves, nor are they done to impress or attract people. Indeed some of His signs will drive people away. The proper purpose of these signs is to point to Christ's true ministry: to reveal the true nature of God in God's only salvation for sinful mankind. Thus, this second lesson of the text guides the mother of Jesus to see the connection between the miracles of the life of Jesus and the salvation that He works for the whole world.
The third lesson of the this miraculous event concerns the eternal bride of Christ, the Church, as the text records : “Jesus did this, the first of His signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.” You see, in this particular event, Jesus ties the event of text and the Word of His true mission together, so that the Church might cling to Him.
Saint John, in his record of the Gospel of Christ, delights to point out the purpose of these things he calls "signs." This miracle at the wedding at Cana is but the first of many such signs, all done in the presence of His disciples, and therefore in the presence of His church.
The signs of Christ bring you to faith. The signs of Christ strengthen and nurture that faith. The signs of Christ thus bring you life in His name. That process begins with the disciples. They see, and believe. Despite their lingering doubts, they continue to see, and they continue to believe, and they continue to have life in His name, through these miraculous signs. This is how Christ ministers to His bride, the Church.
United with the apostles you too are the bride of Christ, His beloved church. Through His Gospel of the forgiveness of sins, Christ continues to serve you in your need. so that by His grace you believe in Him, and thus are kept by Him for that greatest of all wedding celebrations which the Lamb of God will host for you, His bride, the church.