First Reading (Isaiah 62.1 – 5)
Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 96)
Second reading (1 Corinthians 12.4 – 11)
Gospel (John 2. 1 – 12)
This Sunday’s gospel takes place after Jesus’ baptism and after he called his first disciples. The
message of this story is that we must have a listening heart and be attentive to what God is asking
of us. Mary’s words, “whatever he tells you, listen to him”, echo the words we heard at Jesus’
baptism- “This is my beloved son in whom I am pleased, listen to him.”
In the scriptures, God’s salvation and the Kingdom of God a” story is described as a wedding
feast to which we are all invited. We come to this feast even as our needs and concerns weigh us
down. In this feast, God is attentive to us. God responds to our needs in ways that are beyond
anything that we can imagine.
Jesus and his family have been invited to a wedding. The wedding reception is going well, and
then the wine runs out. Jesus’ mother tells him to do something. She ignores Jesus’ objection and
simply tells the waiter: “Do whatever he says.” The servers bring Jesus six large jars and fill
them with 20-30 gallons of water each, which Jesus then turns into wine. And not just any wine.
We hear the headwaiter, without knowing where the wine came from, say: “Everyone serves
good wine first, and then when the people have drunk freely, an inferior one, but you have saved
the good wine until now.”
Why did Jesus do this? Why did he perform this miracle? Let me give you two reasons. The first
is pretty obvious. He did it because his mother asked him to. The second may not be quite so
obvious. Jesus did this miracle to help the bride and groom on their wedding day. To run out of
wine would have been a major embarrassment not only to the bride and groom but also to the
Mary said to the waiters: “Do whatever he tells you.” This is what we are called to do – what
Jesus tells us to do. As I said last weekend, we are meant to be active participants in following
Jesus and spreading the gospel to all that we meet. It is not about the big miracles. I can’t change
water into wine and I can’t make the blind see or the lame walk. But I can do the small everyday
miracles that affect people’s lives. And so can you.
I came across a gentle man some years ago who would walk around the area most mornings. He
would walk slowly and his head is usually down, avoiding eye contact. One day I took the time
to wish him good morning. Every day since then, he would give me a smile and say good
morning. I have wondered why that seemed to be important to him – such a simple thing.
Perhaps it was simply seeing him as a human being, one of God’s children, when too many
people simply walked by and ignored him.
It’s not about the miracles. It is simply about doing good to others. It’s not so much what we do
inside the walls of the church. It is about what we do when we leave the church. To everyone
you see today, do them good. That’s enough of a miracle.
On this Sunday, we are invited to share in the joy of a married couple who shares their feast with
us. The couple has no more wine to serve their guests. Jesus and his disciples along with Mary,
his mother are present. At this feast, Jesus performs his first miracle as he begins his public
God’s tremendous love for us is shown in our love for one another. The “Wedding at Cana
illustrates God’s attentiveness to our needs and tells us that we matter to God. Mary’s
intervention and her words speak volumes about how God acts in our lives. God comes to us at
our deepest moments of need.
The story of Cana has all the elements that we will come to know better as we make our way
through the gospels. It is all about transformation: the kinds of things that occur when Jesus is
present and when people do what Mary instructed the servants to do – “whatever he tells you.”
The key to understanding the Cana event in its fullness, and all the other of Jesus’ “signs,” can be
found in his statement to his mother that “my hour has not yet come.” The “hour” of Jesus refers
to his passion, death, resurrection and exultation taken as one great event. In this “lifting up” of
Jesus, his glory as God’s Son will be definitively revealed. The “signs” that John identifies are
previews – “clues” – pointing to this fullness of his glory. The sign given at Cana, then, is a sign
pointing forward to Jesus’ “hour” on the cross and the banquet of God’s kingdom that follows.
It is instructive that this is one of only two occasions when we meet Mary in John’s gospel, the
other being at the foot of the cross (John 19:25) – the “hour” when God’s glory is fully revealed.
That, for John, is the ultimate moment when heaven and earth intersect.
John’s account suggests even something more. The water that is changed into wine at Cana was
not ordinary water. It was special water. It was water set aside for the Jewish purification rites.
The washing for which it was used was not about being sanitary or comfortable. This washing
was a religious ceremony; it was a ritual cleansing in order to go before the Lord during the
wedding feast. Within the old Jewish system, this water was understood as a sign that God was
doing something new. Jesus takes the old – the ritual bath water – and turns it into something
new – fresh wine. He did not take something bad and turn it into something good. He took
something good – from the past – and transformed it, changed it, into something good for the
future. To repeat, with the mission of Jesus now in the process of beginning, God is revealed as
initiating transformation of the whole of creation – in a whole new way!
Reading and meditating on this text, we should ask ourselves what is our water that Jesus has
come to turn into wine? It can be something very good which God then turns into something
even better – when we do what he tells us. We have all experienced this. Any time we exposed
ourselves to Jesus, we were transformed. We end up being not the people we once were, nor the
people we will one day become. This is what the gospel of John is all about: a new age is upon
us; transformation is occurring everywhere.
Typical of John also is the fact that momentous revelations often occur within the context of
seemingly trivial events – like someone’s wedding in a small backwater town in Galilee.
Marriages there were commonly occasions which drew together the whole village and sometimes
even the people from neighbouring villages – like Nazareth. Running out of wine would have
been experienced not only as an inconvenience but also a social disaster and disgrace. It could
inflict great shame on the family. Despite the fact that Jesus’ mission entailed matters much
weightier, John wants us to have a clear picture, from the outset, of the breadth of his compassion
for those in need. No distress is too trivial for his concern. Life in all its fullness is the objective
of his mission.
There are lessons in here for evangelization as well. It tells us that we cannot evangelize in any
ordinary way. To communicate the transforming power of Jesus, words do not suffice, signs are
needed. To evangelize is not only to speak, preach, or teach, and it certainly is not to judge,
threaten, or condemn. It is necessary to do as Jesus did, to demonstrate in our actions the love
and compassion of God.
We are badly in need of signs in our church today. Our liturgical celebrations leave large
segments of the population bored. They need the church to demonstrate signs that touch their
lives and are warm and cordial, in order to discover in Christianity the capacity of Jesus to
alleviate suffering and the hardship of life, to provide them with strength and a stimulus for
Abraham Olagbegi is someone who as a very young teenager caught the spirit of today’s gospel.
A year ago, at the age of 12, Abraham was diagnosed with a rare blood disease. He underwent a
successful bone marrow transplant and an intense schedule of chemotherapy. Abraham, now 13,
is out of the hospital and his prognosis is promising.
Over the course of his illness, Abraham learned he had been selected for Make-A-Wish, the
charitable organization that makes the dreams of seriously ill children come true.
Abraham wanted a long-lasting wish, and he had an idea that he shared with his mom, Miriam.
As Miriam tells it, “I remember we were coming home from one of his doctor appointments and
he said, ‘Mom, I thought about it, and I really want to feed the homeless,’ I said, ’Are you sure,
Abraham? You could do a lot . . . You sure you don’t want a PlayStation?’”
But she really wasn’t surprised by her son’s selflessness. Prior to his diagnosis, Abraham and his
family regularly volunteered in their community handing out hot meals to the homeless.
Abraham’s “wish” was granted: Beginning this past September, on the third Saturday of each
month for the next year, “Abraham’s table” provides meals for 80 homeless people at a park in
his home town. The Make-A-Wish organization helps Abraham collect donations from local
businesses and organizations.
And when his “wish” is completed this August, Abraham wants to turn “Abraham’s Table” into a
non-profit organization to continue what he began with his “wish.”
“When the homeless people get the plate, some of them would come back and sing to us and
thank us,” Abraham says. “It just really feels good, it warms our hearts – and my parents always
taught us that it’s a blessing to be a blessing.”
In his “first sign” in the Gospel of John – Jesus’ changing simple water into choice wine – is a
fitting sign of what Jesus has been sent by God to do: to transform our world from the brokenness
of sin and the deadness of self-centeredness into God’s banquet table of generosity, hope and
“Abraham’s Table” is an extension of God’s table at which the “water” of fear and self-
centeredness is replaced with the “new wine” of compassion and gratitude for the life that God
has given us – of honor and respect for every human being as a child of God, of the justice,
mercy and peace of God, the Host of the great Wedding Feast.
God bless. Have a wonderful Sunday.