Wine and the Wedding Feast
The Epiphany trilogy concludes this Sunday with the wedding feast at Cana (Jn 2:1-11). Reflections on the theme of manifestation of Jesus as the Savior and Redeemer of the world began on the feast of Epiphany with the story of the visit of the Magi, followed by Baptism of the Lord last Sunday when the Father declared that Jesus is his beloved Son. Now, this Sunday, we see Jesus perform the first of his seven signs in John's gospel, turning water to wine at the wedding feast in Cana, showing his divine personhood in the very act. God reveals his plan for our redemption to us in the three-fold symbols of the Magi bearing gifts to Jesus in worship, the water of baptism, and wine at the wedding, respectively. Worship, water, and wine, all point to the manifestation of His glory.
Wine is essential for a successful wedding feast. Hence, when the wine ran short at the wedding feast in Cana, we can imagine the fear and sadness that must have overcome the wedding host and guests. "They have no wine" (Jn 2: 3); Mary informed her Son, a special invitee to the wedding. The lack of wine points to something more profound, an absence of joy. It takes the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, to turn an inadequacy into an abundance. The wedding banquet at Cana is a foretaste of the wedding banquet God has prepared for his people. In Jesus, we have a marriage of divinity and humanity. The union of Jesus to his body, the Church, further illustrates this marriage. The marriage of God to his people expresses the love of God for his people. Christ's love for his church is celebrated in this banquet. When this union lacks Joy that the wine symbolizes, sadness and sin are prevalent. Jesus restores that abundant joy by his presence and the sign he performs.
Wine is the symbol of divine life, the Spirit that sustains our union with God. It is the life of the party. It is what facilitates the joy of the guests at the wedding banquet. We cannot afford to run out of wine at this feast. We need a constant supply of fine wine. Jesus provides not only an abundance of wine, one hundred and eighty gallons in all, but he offers the best quality wine, superior to what was provided at the beginning of the feast. Wine here is divine life. As Jesus says in Jn 10: 10: I have come that they may have life in abundance." The abundant life happens at the wedding banquet in Cana. Life without this Sacred Wine is equivalent to being immersed in sin and enslaved to sin. But Jesus is the source of this superior wine, and he is present with us. Mary, his mother, and our mother play a vital role in intercession. She continues to appeal to her Son on our behalf: "They have no wine." And Jesus reveals his glory by supplying an abundance of divine life to sustain our union with him by responding to his mother's appeal.
Have you run out of wine of joy? Then, turn to Mary, and Mary will appeal to her Son, "They have no wine," and Jesus surely will provide an abundance of wine to sustain the life of the wedding banquet, a symbol of our union with Jesus.
In His Joy,
Fr. Bernard, OP