Contemplating Jesus


Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

John’s gospel (2:1) tells us that it was on the third day of Jesus’ public ministry (after he had called his first disciples), that they all gathered at a wedding party in the town of Cana.  Jesus’ mother, Mary, was also present with them.

Amid the obviously joyful activities of a traditional Jewish wedding, there was much going on behind the scenes.

Jesus’ first miracle was to take place in an atmosphere of love: the kind of love that is committed to for life.  Jean Vanier suggested that Jesus brought his early disciples along with him to the wedding “to reveal to each one of us the deepest thirst in us; our desire and need to love and be loved.” *

The marriage at Cana also shows us the important role of Mary in not only realizing the power at work in her son, but confidently goading Jesus to act as he had not publicly acted before.    There is a brief interchange between mother and son when she informs him of the fact that the hosts had run out of wine; an embarrassing state of affairs in any wedding celebration.  Jesus’ answer resembles a retort – “What is that to you and to me?”

Mary’s non-response is significant because from that silence (maybe in a shared look between them)  Jesus changed his mind.  And what happened clearly illustrates the depth of love and partnership they both shared in carrying out the will and works of God.   Together they had journeyed in preparation, but Jesus emphasized that this was not the time for him to perform acts of life-giving healing and multiplications.  John recounts that Mary went ahead anyway to inform the servants to do what Jesus would tell them.  She didn’t hesitate in directing her son to act.   Now was the time: she knew it, and this was the place.     What happened was evidence of Jesus’ respect for his mother, and for his trust in the depth and surety of her wisdom.   The interchange  between them became a moment of obedience to Mary: Jesus’ obedience in trusting her and  the servants’ obedience in listening to her: “Do what he tells you.”

All traditional order was then reversed: the servants were astonished after filling jars with water and the guests marvelled at being served the best wine last, not at the beginning as was the common practice.

The experience of Jesus as abundant life-giver and healer of adversity, established first at Cana through providing wine of lasting quality, was the locus of his parting gift:  the transformation of bread and wine into his body and blood.

As eternal bridegroom, out of love he offered himself to be the rich spiritual nourishment to the guests at his table, a perennial gift of the best, from that beginning to the end of time.

* Ref: Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of St. John  (p.50)

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