Ordinary Time 2
Isaiah 62, 1-5 – Psalm 96 – 1 Corinthians 12, 4-11 – John 2, 1-11
January 17, 2016 at Saint Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, FL.
I am of the opinion that we ought to read this Gospel backwards, or at least move the last verse up to the beginning, then we can avoid all the romantic, sentimental, and overtly devotional conclusions that are always being drawn from this episode. John’s Gospel is a lot of things: dramatic, complex, unique, and long, but it is not sentimental or romantic. This story is not about Cana. There is not one reference to that place ever again. The location is unimportant. It is not about the Blessed Mother as much as we might make something of her intervention and the fact that she is present. It is not about weddings or brides and grooms. It is about wine and water when you are ready to explore a sign, and right away that should turn our attention to this table feast. John tells us that it is about revealed glory, and it is a sign, the first of several that make up John’s Gospel and lead people to believe.
As the verses go, something has run out. It is finished, and that’s the point. The old way of doing things is over. With the coming of Christ, the presence of Jesus, something new is at hand, and that is the sign John is putting before us. There are six water jars. That detail is part of the message. Seven is the number of fulfillment or completeness, but here, there are only six. It carries a sense of incompleteness. The old order, the old Law of Moses was not enough. What comes now is the law of Love and the Spirit. A seventh vessel is needed to complete the plan of God, and that vessel is Christ from whom water will flow at the end.
These symbols have to connect if the genius of John’s Gospel message is going to be passed on to us. John begins the episode by saying that “It is the third day”. How could anyone miss the Easter suggestion when the hour finally comes to reveal the glory on the third day, Easter? This is the “hour” that enters that dialogue with Mary. Some are stunned by the way he addresses her as “woman”, but that word itself should jump us right to the foot of the cross when again he calls her “woman” commending her to John.
Apparently, what happens with the water jars is unknown to everyone but the disciples. They see his glory, or least the beginning of it, and it brings them to believe which is the purpose of the sign: belief! For those of us who know the end of John’s Gospel, all of these images and these signs begin to come together. It starts here with a feast, and the most constant image Jesus uses for the Reign of God is a banquet feast. It starts here with a wedding, and John is fascinated with the image of Christ the Bride Groom and the church as a bride. It is a significant image in the Book of Revelation with the “Wedding of the Lamb” and all its glory as the last and finest moment of time.
So today as we begin “Ordinary Time, we can see that these Sundays will lead us deep into the Pascal mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. It is then that his “hour” will have come, at the Supper Feast when wine again is the focus of the message. In the new age, in this new creation, wine will not run out. His sacrifice will be enough for our salvation. The mission of Jesus Christ to reveal in his glory the truth and the presence of God begins here at this feast. The abundance of this excellent wine, by measure today probably about 120 gallons speaks of the superabundant generosity of God that is now, in Jesus, to be revealed. If you have not seen God’s generosity in your lifetime, then there is no reason to believe, but if you have then there is reason to wonder and to ask if anyone has come to faith because of what they see in your life. This gives us reason enough to repeat this story once again as a reminder both of God’s inexhaustible mercy and of how that glory is reflected in the church and in each of our lives.