In today’s first reading the prophet Isaiah is looking forward to a Messianic future. He is giving Israel something to hope for: a vision of how things will be when the Messiah comes. At the feast of the Epiphany kings saw God’s glory in Bethlehem. In the Baptism of Christ we saw God’s glory manifest in the Holy and Life-giving Trinity, in the obedience of the Son of God, and the way to salvation through baptism. Now through the first of Jesus’ signs we will see further fulfilment of prophecy. In Isaiah the joy of God’s kingdom is understood in terms of a marriage, such as we see in this morning’s Gospel. A wedding is a sign of love, and joy, and commitment, something made holy and fruitful by God.
At one level marriage symbolises God’s relationship with humanity brought about by the Incarnation: where God becomes human, so that humanity might come to share the divine life. The sheer joy of salvation, of hope in Christ, in reuniting what sin had destroyed. What Isaiah looks forward to, is made real in Jesus Christ. And so the first of Jesus’ signs, His demonstrations of the Kingdom of God, takes place at a wedding, in Cana, in Galilee.
The miracle recorded in the Gospel of John takes place on the third day, foreshadowing Jesus’ Resurrection on the third day. Jesus and His mother are guests at the wedding, and so are His Disciples. Marriages in the Bible are community celebrations, with lots of people invited. To run out of food or wine would be very embarrassing for the hosts, so Mary lets Jesus know that they have no wine. While Jesus’ reply may look like he’s upset, He doesn’t ignore His mother, or fail to comply with her request. However, Jesus explains, that His Hour has not yet come, and it will not, until Jesus dies upon the Cross.
Mary simply says to the servants, ‘Do whatever He (that is Jesus) tells you’. She stands as a model of Christian obedience. The key to the Christian life is to follow Mary’s example, and do whatever Christ tells us, nothing more, nothing less, just that. The Christian life is rooted in obedience: we listen to God and we act on His words. We do this for our own good, and for the good of the Kingdom, so that we are not conformed to the world and its ways, but rather to the will of God. Doing so enables us to enter into the joy of the Lord.
At the wedding there were six stone water jars each holding twenty or thirty gallons, about the size of a modern wheelie bin. Together they held one hundred and eighty gallons, or about six hundred and eighty litres, or the equivalent of one thousand four hundred and forty pints of beer, given that ancient wine was drunk diluted with two parts water. It is a lot of wine to drink, and that’s the point: this is a sign of the super-abundance of the Kingdom of God. It shows us that Christ is a type of Melchizedek, the priest-king of Salem. He is the priest of the most High God, who, in Genesis 14:18-20, offers bread and wine to Abram.
The wedding steward is amazed, this is the best wine he has ever tasted. It is understandable that the steward is surprised, the best wine is usually served first, when it can be appreciated. However, the Kingdom of God turns human values on their head. The joyous new wine of the Kingdom is finer than any human wine. It is lavished upon humanity, so that it might transform us, so that we might come to share in the glory of God, and His very nature.
Our Christian lives are to be one of celebration: that we are saved, and that God loves us. This is the reason why we are here today at the Eucharist, which is a foretaste of the marriage feast of the Lamb, and the joy of Heaven. This is where we drink the wine of the Kingdom the Blood of Christ so that we may be transformed by the power and the grace of God, so that we may share his Divine life, and encourage others to enter into the joy of the Lord.
The Wedding at Cana points to the Cross, as this is when Jesus’ hour comes, when He sheds his blood for us. The Cross removes all our embarrassment over our wrongdoings, so that we can enjoy forever the nourishment of God’s love prepared for us in Heaven. The heavenly banquet is shown and foreshadowed here under the outward forms of Bread and Wine. So let us feast on the Body and Blood of Christ so that we may be transformed more and more into His likeness. Let us live out our Joy, and share it with others so that they too may come to believe and give glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. To whom be ascribed, as is most right and just, all might, majesty, glory, dominion and power, now and forever. Amen.