We’re not holding mass right now because our Priest had a stroke back in October 2018. In lieu of mass we’re holding prayer and communion services. Volunteers from outside come in to lead these services. Since we don’t have a Priest to give a homily an inmate will present a reflection on the gospel reading instead.
On Sunday, January 20, 2019 the Gospel reading was John 2:1-12. These verses recount Christ’s first miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana. Go ahead, read it, I’ll wait 🙂
John 2:1-12 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Changes Water Into Wine
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” 4 “Woman,[a] why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[b] 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” 11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. 12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.
As the fellow inmate gave his reflection on the Gospel reading, he focused on the miracle and its revelation concerning Jesus’s first outward demonstration of His glory. I heard very little of what was said. Instead, I sat in silence contemplating the verses and sought other, more subtle meanings.
The first thing I noticed was that it reminded me very much of the parables Jesus would later use in His teachings. One of the most famous being the story of the Prodigal Son. In that we learn of God’s joy in the return of those who have lost their spiritual way and that those of us who have not strayed should be as joyous as God is. So if we look at the story of Jesus turning water into wine, what is it we are to learn?
In John 2:4, Jesus asks His mother why she has come to Him with the problem of there being no more wine and adds, “My time has not yet come.” Isn’t it interesting that Mary doesn’t respond to Jesus but instead turns to the servants in John 2:5 and tells them to, “do whatever He tells you.”? Why would she do this? Is she just being Mom? Is she so invested in the wedding that she can’t let the banquet go without more wine? It seems possible to me that God spoke through her to let Jesus know that, in actuality, His hour had come. That it was indeed time for Him to begin His ministry by revealing Himself and His glory; there were greater lessons to be learned through the act of turning water into wine at that particular point in the banquet.
In John 2:10 we learn that the better wine is served early in the banquet while guests can enjoy it and then later, when everyone has had “too much to drink,” cheaper wine is served. This verse implies that the banquet has reached the point where the guests have had too much wine because the master of the banquet says to the bridegroom that he has, “saved the best,” until the end. So why is this timing so important?
If we think of the banquet as being split into two parts and also as a representation of our total existence, then we can think of our existence as being made of two parts. The first part corresponds with the serving of the first wine, and the second part corresponds with the serving of the second wine; that is, our time on Earth (the serving of the first wine) and our eternal life (the serving of the second wine).
Looking back to John 2:10 we see that the custom was to serve good wine first followed by cheaper wine. Then we see that through Christ’s presence an alternative has been made manifest: that the finest wine awaits us at the end.
Doesn’t the original custom sound a lot like the Old Testament? Drinking good wine in life followed by cheaper wine in eternity? And why? Because no one could live up to the law and all of the animal sacrifices couldn’t atone for the sins of man? In contrast, through Christ we can drink wine in life followed by the finest wine in eternity – BUT – it requires Christ’s presence. So, what happened at that wedding in Cana must then represent the New Testament: that with Christ in your life you can share in the finest wine throughout eternity if you:
“Do whatever He tells you.” John 2:5
Now, if we look closer at John 2:5, we note that it is a command. It’s not a request, suggestion, or piece of advice. It’s a command. And I think it’s the first time that command has been given and it’s given to the servants. It’s not given to the master of the banquet or the bridegroom, it’s given to the servants. In John 2:9 we read that only the servants knew where the wine came from. For me, this is the first time we are exposed to, “the last shall be first and the first shall be last.”
I believe John 2:1-12 is where the first revelations of what Christ’s ministry will, in summation, be about: act as a servant and do what He asks of you and you will be rewarded in eternity.
John 2:1-12 is a short entry in the Gospels but it is powerful and rich in teachings. I’m certain there’s more there than I’ve written of (and of course I could be completely wrong in my interpretations). I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I’ve written as well as any observations about this Gospel entry you may have.