Tom Hoopes – published on 01/17/19
If you were to marry a fabulously wealthy person, you would expect your life to change. That’s what you’ve done.
This Sunday at Mass, the Gospel explains how Jesus turns water into wine. But that’s just the beginning of what Jesus does. Consider everything Jesus transforms this Sunday.
First, Mary is transformed into a heavenly advocate.
When his mother says “They have no wine,” Jesus answers, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”
This sounded less harsh in its original culture than it does to us, but its meaning is the same. Jesus is not calling his mother by name, but calling her by a category, “Woman,” much as Eve was called by God after she ate the apple.
He knows that she is asking him to do a miracle, and to start on the road to the cross, which will reverse what Eve did long ago. He knows that this miracle will change everything about his life: His identity will go from private to public, from a messiah-in-waiting to the messiah, from safely ignored to targeted by the authorities.
But in asking him, Mary changes too. She becomes an Advocate for those whose needs she sees — at Cana and in your home. It is because “her constant intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation” that the Second Vatican Council called her “Advocate” and “Mediatrix.”
Second, the servants at the wedding are transformed into models of the lay apostolate.
Despite Jesus’ apparent hesitation to do what she is asking, Mary charges ahead. She turns to the servants at the wedding and gives what St. John Paul II calls “the great maternal counsel, which Mary addresses to the Church of every age: ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”
The servants do exactly what Jesus asks them, filling large stone jars with water and bringing them to him. At some point as they do this, Jesus changes the water into wine.
They therefore become models for lay Christians everywhere.
We don’t transform the world. We don’t do extraordinary things. We do ordinary work that looks like drudgery, but by doing it for Jesus and by bringing it to him, we play an integral part in his transformation of the world — starting with our work.
Third, he transforms marriage into a sacrament.
Jesus could have chosen any location for his first public miracle. That he chose a wedding is significant.
If Jesus is the divine Son of God, and he is, then his very appearance at a wedding changes the event.
The God who became man in the family of a married couple now begins his ministry at a wedding. He will later call himself the “bridegroom.” St. Paul will later stress how deeply the mystery of Jesus and the Church is like a marriage in its very essence. Marriage is central to salvation history from the first book of the Bible to the very last. The Church sees Cana as a sign that marriage is a sacrament through which Jesus transforms the relationship of husband and wife. But that’s not the only relationship he transforms.
Fourth, Jesus “marries” all of us.
The bridegroom in the story goes unnamed, perhaps because the Gospel wants us to focus on Jesus, who called himself our bridegroom.
You can see what this means in the first reading, a love poem that strains ordinary language in its attempt to describe how much God loves his people: “You shall be called ‘My Delight and your land ‘Espoused.’ For the LORD delights in you and makes your land his spouse.”
We are all familiar with the concept that we should “love all people.” But no one suggests we should love all people like a groom loves a bride. Yet that’s how God loves us.
“As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you,” says the First Reading, “and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.”
Fifth, this new relationship transforms our lives throughout.
If you were to marry a fabulously wealthy person, you would expect your life to change. If you join a Church married to one rich in spiritual wealth, most importantly God, you would expect your life to change also.
It does. The second reading from St. Paul explains. When we enter the Church, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit,” he says. Then he lists the gifts we might receive: healing, mighty deeds, prophecy, discernment of spirits, and tongues. These will mean different things in different lives, but you can see how it works in today’s Gospel.
We saw how Jesus transformed the servants who carried jugs. Look how he transformed the steward. “The headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.’” This man’s words are quoted by the greatest theologians in history. In this utterance, he becomes a prophet, whose words reveal how the New Covenant follows the Old — simply by participating in Christ’s act.
It is always the same equation: Our reality + Jesus = a new reality.
This is how Christ shares his power through his bride, the Church every day. If we stay close to him we can see our lives with Christ’s vision: A vision that transforms everything.