The Cana Connection

Photography © by Andy Coan

Photography © by Andy Coan

In the past two weeks, the Church has celebrated the Epiphany and the Lord’s baptism. This coming Sunday we remember the Wedding Feast at Cana. What’s the connection between the Jordan’s water, Cana’s wine, and the Magi’s gifts?

Actually, the link is not hard to see. The Magi’s homage shows divinity of this child-king who is to die for his people. Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan reveals a glimpse of God’s inner life as Trinity. And the wedding feast of Cana reveals the divine power at work in this carpenter from Nazareth. And it does so smack dab in the middle of everyday life, at a wedding reception.

The fourth gospel calls the Lord’s miracles “signs.” They all point to Jesus’s divinity. But they also profoundly symbolize what it is that he has come into this world to do.

At Cana, he transforms water into wine. Now water is good but rather ordinary. It does not have much taste. Wine in ancient Israel was special, generally reserved for feasts and Sabbaths. It is a symbol of joy, and the exhilaration it provides is a great blessing. Note that the wine Jesus provided was rich, flavorful, and of the very best quality.

The Old Covenant was good. It was good to know that God is one that the way to please him is through just actions. That’s really what the Ten Commandments are all about–justice to God, who alone deserves our worship, and justice to other human beings who all deserve our respect, seeing that they are made in God’s image. But this covenant did not tell the whole story–the inner life of God as Trinity, this is present there only in hints and shadows. Neither does the Old Covenant provide people with the power to live the commandments. The law is written on stone tablets, and people must try to live it through sheer will power.

Jesus transforms this situation. Religious life now becomes intimacy with God, sharing in the eternal celebration of love between Father, Son and Spirit. And the new law is written in hearts by the Holy Spirit who empowers Christians to live it.  Natural human life is good. But the new supernatural life brought by Christ is richer and much more flavorful.

How does Jesus work this transformation? Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the same power that transformed chaos into paradise, a virgin into the mother of the messiah, and bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.  Christ was anointed with this wonder-working Spirit following his baptism. We share in this anointing through confirmation. So why do we think that the gifts of the Spirit were only for New Testament times? Or why would we think that they are only given to the greatest saints? St. Paul in I Corinthians 12 says that there are different works of the Spirit but it is the same God who accomplishes all of them in everyone. And then, “to each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”  At the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church officially taught that the charisms of the Holy Spirit were not limited to the apostolic era but are essential equipment for all times and are poured out upon everyone through baptism and confirmation.  That means that Catholics belong to the largest Pentecostal Church in the world.

So what is needed to awaken the wonder-working power of the Spirit that lies dormant in the lives of so many? Going back to Cana, it seems to me that if Mary’s intercession could be a catalyst for the first miracle, it could be the catalyst for many more.

Editors Note: Reflection on the Mass readings for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) — Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalms 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10; First Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-12. This series for reflections on the upcoming Sunday Readings usually appears on Saturday.

Print this entry

1 Comment

  1. The power of this story exists not only in the miracle, but also in the humongous typological connections it makes in the book of the living. I’ll try to be brief, but there is much more to be said.
    In the beginning God created water, and then He ordered it where to go: water was not given free will, it is completely obedient to the Word of God.
    Noah followed the Word of God and saw water destroy evil.
    Abram/Abraham followed the Word of God, and potable water came out of the wells he dug.
    Moses was drawn out of the river Nile and saved. Later in life he followed the Word of God and freed His people from physical slavery (typologically in the NT; from sin). God gave Moses three signs to share with His people as needed to bolster their faith (with their NT, New Covenant, counterpart in parentheses): (1) Power over dead wood (in the NT; power over the cross, death) which also gives one power over the snake (In the NT; evil, Satan), (2) healing and regeneration (in the NT; forgiveness and salvation), (3) and changing water into blood (in the NT; power over creation, which includes salvation through changing water into blood –which is a two part process, the first water into wine nature completes, the second wine into blood the priests complete) and consuming the blood of Christ -through which comes the eternal life of the New Covenant).
    Along the way, through the salvation story of Sacred Scripture, there are also beautiful segue verses that exhibit the typology of nouns. Prior to Moses, in Gen 49:11 Jacob calls his sons so that he may prophesize to them about the times to come, “In wine he washes his garments, his robe in the blood of grapes” a blood of the grape that the sons of Jacob also drank (Deut. 32:14).
    Centuries later in time, Sirach explains (the workings of typology) in 39:26 “Chief of all needs for human life are water and fire, iron and salt, the heart of the wheat, milk and honey, the blood of the grape, and oil, and cloth; for the good all these are good, but for the wicked they turn out evil.” And then there is the most beautiful segue verse in Sirach 50:15, a reflection on times long ago, on Aaron, the brother of Moses and the High Priest of the Jews, “Once he had completed the services at the altar with the arranging of the sacrifices for the Most High, and had stretched forth his hand for the cup, to offer blood of the grape, and poured it out at the foot of the altar, a sweet-smelling odor to the Most High God…”
    Then, Jesus came and was drawn out of the Jordan at baptism. At the marriage He turned water into wine. Then at the final Passover Supper, the feast that celebrated the Jew’s freedom from slavery, He changed the blood of the grape into the hypostatic blood of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
    During His passion the Rock of our salvation was struck and bled. The seed of Abraham was then nailed to the wood, and at His death on the wood the curtain was torn between heaven and earth, and blood and water poured from His side onto mankind and the earth. Those who drink that blood, His blood, have eternal life and from them gushes the living water of eternal life: that is the new Covenant of the Word of God, Jesus Christ, which fulfills the old Covenant of the Law and the prophets.
    The New Covenant is passed on by the laying of hands and sacrifices of the ordained, which are continuations of the Jewish traditions that the Word of God initiated when the Law and the Love were passed on by Moses to Joshua (Nu. 27:22-23, Deut. 34:9) and to Aaron (Lev. Chapter 8, 16:1-4). Through the succession of His Apostles, that same New Covenant of Jesus’ one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church continues up to this very day, and today is celebrated under the protective eyes of the current college of bishops and pope Francis.
    “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. (54) Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (55) For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. (56) Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6:53-56, ESV, also NIV and KJV). Jesus said, “and drinks my blood”. The word is “and”, not “or”. True, the Bread of Life is also consumed as Sacred Scripture, the written word of God, but the blood of the grape does not end in wine or grape juice. The blood of the grape ends in the water that became wine that became the blood of Christ, which is a fountain of Life that can only be celebrated nowadays through the consecration of bread and wine by the ordained priests of the Bride of Christ, which is the Church initiated and sustained by Christ through the rock of Peter: the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.
    The word is clearly “and”.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *