A reflection by Fr. Ron MacDonell, S.F.M., on Isaiah 62.1-5; 1 Corinthians 12.1-11; John 2.1-11
Today we celebrate Jesus’ first miracle, the first public sign of his ministry. At a wedding in Cana, Jesus transforms water into wine. It is Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is observant and tells Jesus that the wine has run out. Jesus replies that it is not yet his time; he seems hesitant. Yet his mother, knowing that he will respond, says to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Jesus asks the servants to fill the jars with water and then has them take some to the steward. Miraculously, the water has changed to wine. And good wine at that, so much so that the steward is puzzled. He asks Jesus why the best wine was served at the last rather than at the first, contrary to custom. Many come to believe in Jesus because of this first sign.
The miracle at Cana is full of symbolism. Jesus himself is the wine, the best wine of the line of prophets; he is the most perfect prophet, the Son of God. We are the servants. By our faith in Jesus and through our baptism and our prayers, he enters our lives and transforms the waters of our being into the wine of joy, the wine of patience, the wine of love. He performs miracles in our lives.
By our faith in Jesus and through our baptism and our prayers, Jesus enters our lives and transforms the waters of our being into the wine of joy, the wine of patience, the wine of love.
It is interesting to note that the miracle takes place at a wedding, the public celebration of love and commitment that a couple makes to one another. In the Old Testament, the image of marriage was used to represent the love of God for all humanity: “For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” God’s love for us is as tender and intense as that between husband and wife. At Cana, the scene at the wedding suggests that Jesus is the bridegroom, and the community of believers—the Church—is the bride.
Jesus lived his life of ministry for three years, until those who were against his life of love and compassion condemned him to death. Jesus gave his life for us, suffering passion and death and showing the way to new life through the peace of the Resurrection. The word “passion” comes from the Latin verb meaning “to suffer.” Lovers are passionate for one another because they are willing to suffer for one another. Jesus is passionate for us because he willingly suffered for us. He died for us. He is pure love.
We are called to be passionate followers of Jesus, willing at times to bear suffering in our service and love for our sisters and brothers. Each of us has a gift. St. Paul says in the second reading, “there are a variety of gifts, but the same Spirit.” We start at home in our families, then to our work places and our communities, reaching out to the stranger, the foreigner, the refugee, the poor, the sick, the lonely. We are called to become wine for the world, to change the ordinary into the extraordinary, to change apathy into joy, and violence into peace. By imitating Jesus, by being closely linked to him through our faith, our presence will become like a delicious wine that draws people to God and to Jesus.