January 18, 2016

More Observations on the Wedding Feast at Cana

The Wedding Feast at Cana

Last Sunday’s Gospel about the wedding feast at Cana was the subject of a thoughtful commentary by Venerable Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in his book The World’s First Love. The Venerable Bishop’s remarks cannot be improved upon. Rather, the following observations underscore Mary’s indispensable role in leading humanity to Christ, and Christ’s incomparable benevolence in showing us the way to the Father.

1. Jesus' first recorded miracle is at a wedding feast. 

Sacred Scripture begins with a marriage, [the primordial marriage of Adam and Eve] and ends with the marriage supper of the Lamb in Revelation [where Christ (the Lamb) is eternally united with his Bride (the Church) in Heaven]. It is no accident that Christ's first recorded miracle happens amid a wedding celebration. Indeed, Christ’s actions prefigure the ultimate end of human history and the singular goal of Salvation History – namely the joining of God and man in the Beatific Vision. Moreover, Jesus’ miracle demonstrates that our physical body and appetites are not, in and of themselves, evil. Christ’s gift of wine reminds us that truly, in the words of Saint Irenaeus, "The glory of God is man fully alive." Thanks to Christ intervening at Mary's behest, the festivities could continue unabated.

2. While playing a crucial role, Mary is obedient to the will of Christ.

In his commentary, the Venerable Bishop Sheen writes, “The Cana marriage is the only occasion in Sacred Scripture where Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is mentioned before Him.” It is also the last time Mary appears in the Gospels. Mary’s final utterance is to follow Jesus in trusting obedience: "Do whatever he tells you." Her words are a definitive injunction to the servants, and to us. Just as the Queen Mothers of Ancient Israel could appeal to their sons [the king] for favor, mercy and restraint; Mary the Queen of Heaven and Earth, can intercede on our behalf with her Son, Jesus, the King of the Universe.

The miracle at Cana would not have happened had Mary not interceded on behalf of the newlywed couple. While Jesus was initially reluctant, Mary’s insistence, in accordance with God’s will, set the stage for the first demonstration of the power, glory and inexhaustible generosity of Jesus Christ Incarnate. Much more could be said in this regard, however, one thing is certain: In Heaven, Mary continues to petition her Son on humanity’s behalf.

3. The headwaiter’s statement shows that God gives us the best.

After turning the water into wine, Jesus tells the amazed servants to draw a sample and give it to the headwaiter. What happens next, as recorded in the Gospel of John, is revealing:
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from — although the servers who had drawn the water knew —, the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now. [John 2:9-10]
First century Jewish wedding celebrations were weeklong affairs, lasting from seven to ten days. According to common practice, the choicest wine was served first. In the course of proceedings, once guests had imbibed sufficiently enough to not notice the quality of libations offered, the headwaiter would serve the cheaper wine.

The headwaiter’s statement to the bridegroom, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now,” illustrates that the wine that resulted from Jesus’ miracle was of the highest quality. Christ gives us the best of everything. We know that in Heaven, our heart's deepest longings will be satisfied. God offers his sons and daughters, adopted through the sacrifice of Christ, a way of living and loving during our pilgrim journey on earth which — while not always easy, is the surest path to spiritual equanimity and contentment. Jesus is the exemplar, par excellent, of what it means to be a disciple. We should strive to live in imitation of Him with the saints and Mary as our companions and guides.

Additional Articles:

"Lesson Two: Wedding at Cana, Garden in Eden," The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.

"The Significance of the Wedding at Cana," Mark Shea, The National Catholic Register.

"Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's Reflection on the Wedding Feast at Cana," Big 'C' Catholics.

"The Wedding Feast at Cana,"  Marcellino D'Ambrosio, PhD., The Crossroads Initiative.

"Knowing Mary Through the Bible: New Wine, New Eve," Catholic Education Resource Center.

1 comment :

bill bannon said...

The confusion this incident causes should be solved by Rome. Christ seems resistant and rude to Mary in most translations except the official Catholic Bible....the New Vulgate ( and in the Old Vulgate) where Christ says " what to me and to thee" which is a Hebrew idiom that as Fr. Manuel Miguens has shown can connote friendliness or antipathy and depends on the context. Here the context is that Mary was asking a miracle but feared that it would bring on the foretold enemies of Christ. Mary did not know how far off Christ's passion was as we do in retrospect. Hence as she approached Christ, she probably showed worry in her face and voice about this being Christ's hour to suffer arrest if she made Him go public with a miracle. Christ sees the worry in her and says in the Vulgate..." What to me and to thee,woman, my hour
( to suffer) is not yet come". "Hour" in John alwas means the hour to suffer the passion ( Miguens). Of couse Mary heard an immediate yes to the miracle request...Christ was saying yes with the Hebrew idiom " what to me and to thee" in the context of Mary's worry. Only Jerome translated this properly and all other translations are derived from inferior manuscripts.