2013 - Vol. 65
Miracle at Cana
By Jeanne Kun
first miracle, in appearance the least “spiritual” of all, prepared them
for what was to come, [and] introduced them to the unimaginable mystery.
At the wedding
feast in Cana we catch a glimpse of Jesus’ kindness, the warmth of his
personality, and his enjoyment of a good party. “I cannot imagine Jesus
sitting alone with a serious face,” wrote Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche,
in Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John. “Instead,
I see him a part of the celebration, singing with everybody else, rejoicing
in the festivity, profoundly happy to celebrate with people he knows and
loves. . . . Jesus is so beautifully human!” Yet at this feast much more
than Jesus’ humanity and empathy was made evident – the divine glory of
Jesus was manifested at Cana.
François Mauriac, Life of Jesus
far from Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth, so it’s likely that the wedding Jesus
and Mary attended was that of a close relative or neighbor. To run out
of wine would have been quite an embarrassment for the newlyweds, since
Middle Eastern hospitality demands that hosts care for their guests graciously.
So, at his mother’s discreet request – the only record in Scripture of
Mary’s asking her son to fill a need – Jesus remedied the awkward situation.
told Jesus, “They have no wine” (John 2:3) – and initially he replied that
his “hour” had not yet come (2:4). Mary’s words, however, implied more
than the expectation that her son would do a favor for the bride and groom.
She was prompting him to do something out of the ordinary (for surely she
didn’t merely think that Jesus would send his disciples to buy more wine).
And, in this way, Mary was releasing Jesus from his responsibilities at
home and suggesting that he now take up his divine work. Ultimately, when
Jesus acted at his mother’s urging and began to reveal himself by his action
at Cana, he signaled that the fulfillment of his hour—that is, Jesus’ redemptive
mission, his passion and death, his resurrection and ascension in glory
(7:30; 8:20; 12:27; 16:32; 17:1) – was drawing near.
“Fill the jars
with water. . . . Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward”
(John 2:7-8). With these simple instructions to the waiters, Jesus changed
120 gallons of ordinary water into fine wine. This miraculous transformation
was effected by his creative power and divine authority. The abundant quantity
of wine highlights the greatness of the miracle as well as the generosity
of wine is one of the dominant images that characterized the visions of
the messianic era foretold by the ancient prophets of Israel (Isaiah 25:6;
Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13-14;). And the wedding feast mirrors the Old Testament
image of marriage as an expression of God’s relationship to Israel (Isaiah
54:5-6; 62:4-5; Hosea 2:19-20). In the New Testament, this messianic age
is likened to a wedding banquet (Matthew 22:1-14; Revelation 19:9). When
Jesus changed the water held in jars used for Jewish ritual purification
(John 2:6) into wine, he was hinting that the messianic age had now arrived.
With this “new wine” (Luke 5:33-39), a new era had begun – an era in which
Jesus himself is the bridegroom (John 3:29). For, by providing wine in
plenty at a marriage feast – a responsibility of the bridegroom – he pointed
to his identity as divine bridegroom and Messiah and to the new covenant
he was to accomplish by his life and death.
this miracle of Jesus a “sign” (John 2:11) – the first among many that
the Evangelist recorded in his gospel. The mighty work that Jesus did in
Cana was not simply an extraordinary act done out of kindness and compassion.
It was a sign that revealed Jesus’ glory and unveiled God’s power and love
actively working through him – and a sign that invited all who witnessed
it to faith in the one whom God sent to fulfill his plan of salvation.
In the Spotlight
Jesus’ day, it was customary in Palestine for the bridegroom and his friends
to carry the bride in a chair from her parents’ house to the groom’s house
in a torchlit procession. There the couple
– who had already been
pledged to one another at their betrothal
– concluded the marriage
festivities followed, which lasted from three to eight days and included
singing, dancing, and feasting (Genesis 29:27; Judges 14:10, 12, 17; Job
and friends – even
townspeople and people passing through
– came to greet the bride
and groom and join in their joy. Flowing wine added to the celebratory
atmosphere and cheered the hearts of the guests. In fact, the Aramaic word
used to describe a wedding feast is mistita, which has the same root as
the word “drink” and literally means “drink-festival.”
is highly esteemed in the culture of the Middle East, so to fail in one’s
duties as a gracious and generous host leaves a blot on the family’s reputation.
In first-century Palestine, a bridegroom and his family could even have
been heavily fined or taken to court for not providing sufficiently for
their guests. Thus, by miraculously providing wine in abundance when it
had run out at the wedding in Cana, Jesus saved the newlyweds from social
embarrassment and from the displeasure of their guests and prevented a
disruption of the festivities.
The Hour of Jesus’
sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus’
glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in
the Father’s kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has
become the Blood of Christ. (1335)
Church attaches great importance to Jesus’ presence at the wedding at Cana.
She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation
that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ’s presence.
Gospel reveals to us how Mary prays and intercedes in faith. At Cana, the
mother of Jesus asks her son for the needs of a wedding feast; this is
the sign of another feast
– that of the wedding
of the Lamb where he gives his body and blood at the request of the Church,
his Bride. (2618)
the Catechism of the Catholic Church
In the Spotlight
d’Youville founded the Sisters of Charity of Montreal, commonly known as
the Grey Nuns, after she was widowed. During the eighteenth-century colonization
of French Canada and the hardships of the French and Indian War (1754–1763)
she and her sisters ran a hospital for the sick and infirm as well as an
orphanage for abandoned babies. Blessed John XXIII called her the Mother
of Universal Charity. St. Marguerite d’Youville was canonized by Pope John
Paul II in 1990.
after checking her accounts, Mother d’Youville discovered that she had
only one small silver coin left. At that moment, a poor woman came to claim
her payment for nursing a baby in their care—a payment of the exact amount
of the coin. Marguerite reached into her pocket, only to find a whole handful
of coins! Amazed, she reached into her other pocket and brought out yet
another handful! At another time, when the sisters and their patients were
close to starving, six barrels of flour inexplicably “appeared” in their
dining room. The Eternal Father never failed to care for his daughters
and for the poor they served.
the Land I Have Shown You: The Stories
16 Saints and Christian Heroes of North America
in Power: The Miracles of Jesus, The Word Among Us Press, Copyright
© 2006. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Jeanne Kun is President
Association and a senior woman leader in the Word
of Life Community, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.
the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of
Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his
disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When
the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”
Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour
has not yet come.” 5His mother
said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
standing there were six stone jars for the Jewish rites of purification,
each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus
said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the
brim. 8He said to them, “Now
draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it.
9When the steward tasted the water that had become
wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had
drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and
said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first; and then the inferior
wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine
did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his
glory; and his disciples believed in him. 12
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and
his disciples; and they remained there a few days.
Icon of Miracle at Cana
1. John wrote
that the wedding in Cana occurred “on the third day” (John 2:1), that is,
three days after Jesus’ encounter with Nathanael (1:43-51). What significance
do you see in this chronology? What other events in Scripture involve a
time framework of three days?
2. Why, in
your opinion, did Jesus perform this miracle? Note the reasons that are
stated in the text as well as those that seem to be hinted at or implied.
What impact do you think this miracle had on the various people who witnessed
3. What do
Mary’s presence, words, and actions at the wedding at Cana and afterward
at Capernaum indicate to you about her? About her relationship with her
4. Is faith
evident in this scene? If so, in what ways? Whose faith? What do the results
of the servants’ actions suggest about the importance of obedience?
5. How is the
miracle at Cana a sign of the coming kingdom of God? What is its value
as a sign? (Note that six other “signs” are recounted in the Gospel of
John: the healing of the official’s son – 4:46-54, the healing of the paralyzed
man – 5:2-9, the multiplication of the loaves – 6:1-14, the healing of
the blind man – 9:1-41, and the raising of Lazarus – 11:1-44.)
1. Mary brought
the newlyweds’ need to Jesus’ attention. When have you been an advocate
for someone in need? How were you able to help? What could you do to make
intercession a more active and effective part of your prayer life?
2. “Do whatever
he tells you” (John 2:5) are the last words of Mary recorded in Scripture.
Think of a time when you did something because you felt that Jesus told
you to do it. Was it easy or difficult for you to obey him? What were the
3. The miracle
at Cana shows Jesus’ kindness and concern for the bride and groom. Recall
a situation when someone cared for your needs. How did their attention
affect you? How did they reflect the face of Christ to you?
4. Jesus changed
ordinary water into wine – in a plentiful quantity – at Cana. Write a prayer
asking Jesus either to transform some “ordinary water” in your life into
“good wine” (John 2:10) or to provide abundantly in an area of your life
where you feel a lack or limitation.
5. The disciples
“believed in him” after they had seen Jesus transform water into wine (John
2:11). What “signs” of God at work in your life have caused your faith
to grow and deepen?
1. Think about
how you and your family or friends celebrate special occasions such as
weddings, birthdays, graduations, first Communions, and anniversaries.
What could you do to make your celebrations more meaningful and more festive
for your guests?
on the following Scripture passages to enhance your understanding of Jesus’
mission as the Messiah:
beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger
who announces peace,
brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
– Isaiah 52:7
went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and
proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and
every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because
they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
– Matthew 9:35-36
to [Jesus] all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city
was gathered together around the door. And he cured many who were sick
with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit
the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was
still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there
he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found
him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let
us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there
also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee,
proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
– Mark 1:32-39
came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue
on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll
of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found
the place where it was written:
Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring good
news to the poor.
has sent me to proclaim release to the
captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
to et the oppressed go free,
proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Luke 4:18-19 (see also Isaiah 61:1-2)
“God is able
to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having
enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.” (2
This week reach
out to someone in a way that will communicate to him or her God’s personal
love and care and will also reflect God’s abundant generosity.