The Wedding at Cana

14 January 2007: 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
John 2, 1-11 The Wedding at Cana

Let us first note where the first miracle happened. Cana in Galilee was probably a village near Nazareth. Today, it is attributed to a place called Kafar Kanna in Israel. In Cana, there was a wedding where Mary held an important responsibility, because she had power enough to command the servants. She was probably one of the wedding ‘coordinators’ of present-day weddings. She was worried about the wine that it was running out.

There are many little details given by other sources than the New Testament --- and some of these are not canonically accepted. But we can let our imagination fly. The writings of Coptic Gospels said that Mary was the sister of the bridegroom’s mother; and in early prefaces to the books in the New Testament called Monarchian* prefaces, they said that the bridegroom was John, the evangelist himself, and his mother was Salome, the sister of Mary.

Second, how important are weddings in ancient Israel? Weddings in Jewish customs are milestones. They give their time and effort in celebrating and marking it in their lives. In Jewish law, the wedding of a virgin takes place on a Wednesday, and it lasts for more than a day. The wedding ceremony itself took place after a big feast and late in the evening, as we see illustrated in the Parable of the Ten Virgins. After the ceremony, the young couple was brought to their new home. They take the longest route so that people may wish them well.

Third, how important are wines? For a Jewish feast, wine was essential. The rabbis said, “Without wine, there is no joy.” It did not say that it was permissible to get drunk --- drunkenness was a great disgrace! They actually drank wine mixed with water. But hospitality was a sacred duty for the Jews that for food and wine --- provisions--- to ran out in a wedding was a great embarrassment and humiliation.

And so Mary went to Jesus to ask for a favor. Mary knew her Son, so she asked Him for help. And Jesus responded. It was not his time, but what moved Jesus was compassion for the bridegroom and his bride: to save them from embarrassment in the community.

Our present lives are also marked by milestones: birth and birthdays, weddings and anniversaries, funerals and family gatherings. When we celebrate days that commemorate an important life-changing event, we gather people to celebrate with us, to share our joys. Many of these families and friends take time to invite us and to make those celebrations special. Jesus and his disciples mark these events and thus took time to celebrate this milestone in their friends’ wedding. Their presence is proof of their love.

This is the time therefore to re-affirm the importance of milestones, and check our attitudes and behavior towards celebrations. What are our motivations in attending these events? Do we catch ourselves dragging our feet to these events? Are we there for the meal --- as ‘eat and run’ guests do? Jesus thus affirms that Christians should not forget the virtue of hospitality and friendship; and thus genuine motivation is ideal when we mark days of our lives.

*Monarchianism holds and emphasizes God as being the one and only ruler --- thus is in conflict with the doctrine on the Trinity and the God becoming human as the Gospel of John emphasizes. Monarchian belief is heretical.


Anonymous said...

hey there father! just dropping by to say hi. does reading your blog mean i am excused from listening to the homily in mass? just kidding of course. see you soon! btw the wife and the kids are doing all right


Jessel Gerard said...

hi dino: kumusta? I am very happy that you dropped by. I actually modify homilies according to the people who attend mass. Everything that I want to say --- content-wise--- is here and is heard usually at the 11:00 Sunday mass.

Send my regards to your family.

Do take care.