Pastor’s Column January 19 - 20, 2019
“There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee ...”
Last weekend, when our celebration of the Baptism of the Lord brought the Christmas season to a close, I pointed out in my column how that event was chosen by Pope St. John Paul II to be the First Luminous Mystery of the Rosary because it marked the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. This weekend, as we enter Ordinary Time, our Gospel reading is the story of the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee where Jesus performed his first miracle changing water into wine, an event which our Holy Father of happy memory selected as the Second Luminous Mystery. Jesus, with a little nudging from his mother Mary, really hit the ground running, as according to John’s Gospel this was only the third day of his public ministry. After baptizing our Lord, John the Baptist identified Jesus as “the Lamb of God,” and two disciples who had been following him, John the Evangelist who would later write this Gospel and Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, left John to follow Jesus. Jesus invited them to spend the day with him. Andrew then old Simon Peter that he had found the Christ, and brought Peter to Jesus. The next day the group traveled to Galilee, where Philip and Nathanael (also known as Bartholomew) encountered Jesus and began to follow him.
Then, on the third day, “There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’” In this month’s Magnificat magazine, Bishop Robert Barron writes, “The great theologians and mystics of the tradition have loved St. John’s account of the wedding feast at Cana. Beautifully crafted and symbolically dense, this narrative has proven a bottomless source of spiritual insight.” In fact, when I was discerning my call to the Priesthood, my Spiritual Director gave me this passage to study, meditate and pray over, because it contains much wisdom regarding discipleship.
First, it shows us that discipleship starts with an encounter with Jesus who wants to be in relationship with us. Known as the divine initiative, we find the God whom we seek is already waiting for us, and invites us to come and see. And when the invitation comes, we need to be ready to respond and to spend some time with him in order to get to know him intimately. That is why some time in personal prayer each day is so important, and if we can get to church and open our hearts before Jesus who is physically present in the tabernacle, so much the better.
Second, this story demonstrates the important role that Mary plays as an intercessor and as someone who always leads people to her Son. When Mary tells Jesus that the couple is out of wine, Jesus’ initial response is “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” But Mary is not deterred by Jesus seeming lack of interest in her request. She confidently tells the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” So don’t be afraid to enlist Mary’s help to ask for and receive those gifts, graces, and blessings you need. Mary’s prayers to God are so effective because they are a Mother’s prayers, and Jesus can’t refuse His Mother.
Third, we need to follow Mary’s advice to the servers and do whatever Jesus tells us to do. We need to trust Him and obey Him and submit our will to His holy will, because He knows what is best for us and he has an abundance of good things in store for us. Jesus asked the servers to fill six stone jars, each holding twenty to thirty gallons, with water. And St. John tells us, “They filled them to the brim.” Do the math. Six jars times thirty gallons equals one hundred eighty gallons of water which Jesus transforms into wine. That is a lot of wine; in fact, it is more than 3,800 glasses of wine. And not just any wine, but the best wine. Do whatever he tells you so that he will transform you and give you abundant life.
-- Fr. Bob