Sunday 16th of January SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR C
Our walk in the footsteps of the gospel this Sunday presents us the famous scene of the wedding at Cana. Today we see where Jesus is at home. This passage in John’s Gospel is found after the disciples asked: “Where do you live”? And it will continue with entering the temple with a whip. We expect God in a temple, and instead we find him in a feast. From the very first passages of the Gospel of John, Jesus amazes us! Even with six hundred liters of good wine!
The beginning of John’s Gospel is strange. With all the problems in the world, does Jesus deal with wine? Being the principle of signs, the others must also be read on the basis of this. We are used to seeing God of the law, of punishment, of judgment. It is scandalous that Jesus presents himself adding good wine! Where does God live? Does he live only in the precepts, or does he live in the everyday life, in the beauty of relationships, in friendship? Jesus presents himself like this.
Today’s passage begins as always with the expression “At that time“, but in John’s text it refers to “the third day”, that is, after the disciples had asked: “Where you live?“, already giving us an important temporal reference. The third day is the final day, the resurrection. That question arose, in turn, on a “third day” of the inaugural week of the Johannine account, so the evangelist wants to tell us that we are on the sixth day, the day in which man was created, the fulfillment of Creation, the day which prepares for rest. In fact, the scene presents, as at the end of the Scriptures, a wedding scene. In fact, the Old Testament closes with the Song of Songs.
God gives us commands, but all the laws of God must always be read with a nuptial gaze, with a sense of love. Without love, even the meticulous observance of all precepts remains empty. There is a risk of making the mistake of the “elder brother”, who carried out all the duties in the house of the merciful father, but did not understand his love. There is a party there too, and the older brother does not understand. The whole covenant with the people of Israel is a marriage covenant. God’s people are often associated with the image of the bride. Adam and Eve, from the very first verses, flee from this love out of fear, and God seeks them. It is a little bit the whole history of God with humanity, a search animated by love, which ends, in the Sacred Scripture, with the nuptial scene of the Apocalypse.
The mother of Jesus is there. The stone jars are there. Jesus calls her “woman”, she is the bride who loves God. She runs out of wine. A precise sign: while bread and oil are essential for nourishment, wine is something more, but something indispensable to be human, to make the heart happy: if we limit ourselves only to eating and drinking, we are beasts! Mankind, on the other hand, lives to rejoice. Wine is lacking, an experience that we often try: maybe we have an abundance of food, work, services, well-being, but we lack joy, love, a sense of life. Life, withdrawn from the need to seek “bread and oil”, loses its party dimension, its relationship with others.
It is Maria who notices it. “They have no more wine“: Mary’s function is to represent humanity in relationship with God, the one whom she welcomes and talks to. Here in Cana, as under the foot of the cross. Jesus does not call her “mother”, but refers to her as a woman. It is not a derogatory tone, far from it, indeed it has a profound meaning: Mary is a mother, and she is also a “woman”, she is a bride, she is an ally. Even the expression “why do you involve me?” indicates, in the diplomatic language of the alliances of the time, the expression “both to me and to you“, used during disputes to reaffirm the reciprocal duties of the alliance. If there is no joy, there is no wine, that’s what matters to you, because you are my ally!
“My hour has not yet come” can be also read as “Has my hour not come yet?” (remember that in the ancient codices there was no punctuation, so it is likely that the expression was a question). In fact, from the rest of the passage, we see that for Jesus the hour has come for him! Finally it is time to bring wine and joy to mankind!
Now it is the time, we must not wait for an indefinite future. Now we must act, just draw, because the Lord is already present. Mary’s answer does not contradict what Jesus says, but rather follows up on her son’s question. It is her who speaks to the servants, who – perhaps we do not notice – are the real architects of the prodigy. The ones materially performing the miracle, with a concrete action, it is not Jesus whose action remains “immobile”, but the servants who fill the jars with water and bring the wine to the table of the master. “Do whatever he tells you” recalls the expression of the people of Israel after receiving the law of the covenant, in which it says “we will do all these words“. This is a new alliance.
The mother and the jars “were there”, there is a similarity between sister water and Mary, as we always like to note in the Canticle of the Creatures, where Francis defines water as “very useful, humble, precious and chaste“, with four adjectives representing the Virgin. The jars are six, the number of the man, on the sixth day in which he was created, and what will happen in this wedding is the creation of the new mankind. Water is the primordial element of creation. They are made of stone, a reminder of the tables of the law carved in stone. We talk about purification of the Jews, of rites, of practices of the law. But the jars were empty: there was no point in living!
Jesus orders to fill them. How many times our life is all in order, in obligations, even in our understanding of being creatures, in the precepts, but then we realize that this very life is empty. Only Christ can fill this whole order with meaning! Water is man’s desire, Jesus asks us to use water to fill life, to fill it with desire. It is water that becomes beautiful wine! Instead we are often good at turning the wine of the Gospel into water, at “watering it down”, at telling only the precepts, the sadness!
Dip into that water which is Christ. He is the complete man, the perfect man. Let’s draw from him now! But is it just water? No, it is already wine, it is already beauty, it is already joy, in an immeasurable quantity, six hundred liters. You can always draw, it is always available! How beautiful our life can become, if we take this awareness! The miracle is not even told. We are not interested in the details of how it is transformed, but in the fact that the wine is very good. The miracle, if you think about it, lies in listening to the servants. The miracle is the servants who listen. Imagine if all men acted by listening to the word of God, how many miracles on our beautiful planet!
The table master is the connoisseur, the teacher of the law, the theologian, and in the story he appears before the bridegroom. The bridegroom is actually Jesus, the one with whom the sommelier talks. The teacher of the law does not know where this new wine comes from, because he does not produce it himself. This new theology brought by Christ is understood only by those who live it, those who experience it, even in the humility of daily life. In fact, the servants “knew well” where he came from!
Everyone brings out the choice wine first. In our life, we often experience first the beautiful wine, at a young age, at the beginning of our human relationships, in our work, in our passions. Then, slowly, over time, when we are a little drunk, the poor wine, the decay, the old age. Almost as if in life we were all destined for a perennial descending parable. Instead, with Christ, the paradigm changes. We may have an opportunity if we choose to draw heavily from these stone jars. God desires that within our life, at every age, we live our desires in fullness, in sweetness, in beauty! The real sin is giving up these desires.
This is the principle of the signs. It is not just a “miracle”, but a sign, something mysterious to be fully understood. The miracle is something strange, unnatural. The sign is something we encounter in ordinary life, but which can have a special message. It is not important what you do, but what you communicate. He is the wine, he is the bridegroom! This is his glory, the man who rejoices, the living mankind.
As St. Francis says, “We are the jesters of the Lord, and the reward we want from you is this: that you live in true penance.” And he added: “What are the servants of God, if not his jesters who must move the heart of men and raise it to spiritual joy? “He said this, referring especially to the lesser brothers, who were sent to the people to save them” (Leggenda perugina n. 43).
There are six jars. Six hundred liters of wine! Think of what an abundance of love awaits us, if only we choose to dip into these jars. We sincerely wish you a happy Sunday!