Sunday, 17 January 2016

Week 2 (Year C) Sunday -- 17 January 2016

Readings: Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 96; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-12

The miracle at Cana is a sign and not a trick. That means it is a bearer of meaning about Jesus and his mission. Through this sign he begins to reveal his glory and the disciples, responding to that glory, become believers.

Many texts in the Old Testament speak about a wedding banquet at which the best of wine will be served in abundance. This banquet celebrates the wedding of God and God’s people. They will be forsaken no more for God delights in them. They will be desolate no more for they are now married. The wine at Cana is enough to keep a large wedding party merry for a fortnight! This is the kind of extravagance lovers understand. In the Song of Songs wine is equivalent to love. So an extravagance of wine means an extravagance of love.
But Cana is a sign pointing to Calvary. On both occasions Jesus addresses his mother as ‘woman’ (the name of Eve, indicating that in the mystery of the new covenant she is to have a unique, archetypal role). At Cana Jesus tells his mother that his ‘hour’ has not yet come. As Jesus died the beloved disciple took Mary into his home ‘from that hour’. The hour is the hour in which Jesus passes from this world to the Father and Cana anticipates it. From the cross Jesus says ‘I thirst’. The one who had provided wine in extravagant abundance is parched and the one who had given the guests the best wine is offered sour wine in return. The tremendous lover pours himself out for the bride whom he loves and receives in return the bitterness of indifference and hatred. When his life has been extinguished – or rather when he has breathed forth his Spirit – blood and water flow from his side, another echo of the sign given at Cana and a pointer to the banquet in which his love continues to nourish his bride, the banquet of the Eucharist.

Above all the reference to ‘glory’ links Cana and Calvary. ‘We have seen his glory’, Saint John says, ‘the glory of the only Son from the Father’. That glory is revealed on the cross where we see the love and obedience that unites the Son and the Father. Here the marriage is consummated – these are Jesus’ final words – as the tears of sin and suffering are transformed forever into the wine of love and joy.

So we have Cana, Calvary and the Eucharist. The sign given to us, that we can see every day, is the bread and wine on which He feeds His gathered people, the ones who believe in Him, see His glory, and are fed on His Body and Blood. It is one more extravagance, the generosity of divine love that places itself in the order of signs, translates itself into sacramental signs put at our disposal.

It was all promised from ages past but realised in a way nobody ever suspected. The Messiah would feed and wine His people, and He does it when He comes by feeding multitudes and changing water into wine. But these are still just signs, pointing to the reality which is His life and mission, pointing especially to His death, His body given for us and His blood poured out for us. It is there for us to share, that generous and extravagant love, to share in both meanings of the word: by participating in it ourselves and by bringing others to participate with us.

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