Water into wine

By | January 14, 2010

The miracles of the Lord point to deeper truths such as the miracle at the village of Cana. The transformation of water into wine was undoubtedly an incredible event to experience for both the family and the guests of the wedding party. It was probably

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Fr. Mark Vander Steeg

recounted with particular awe for some time in Cana before being recorded in the Gospel of John. The miracle’s deeper meaning came to light after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead as the church grew in its understanding of Jesus’ identity and the purpose of his life, death and resurrection.

The changing of the water into wine foreshadowed the truth that the cleansing that Christ would give through the shedding of his blood and its personal application to each of us, would far surpass the ritual purification that the Jewish ceremonial water cleansings could ever give. The ritual purifications of the old law have given way to a final cleansing that surpasses anything humanity has been offered thus far. Yet the old has not been set aside. It has rather been transformed and fulfilled, imaged in the transformation of this water into the new wine. The people Israel have grown into the church which is the new Israel and from the Israel of old, from whom came the Law, has come the greatest gift: Emmanuel, God made man, who fulfills the Law.

The miracle moved the disciples to a firmer allegiance to Jesus. It was the first of seven signs that John would record in the Gospel which began to reveal the glory of Jesus and his true identity. The final sign would be the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead which foreshadows the final resurrection of all the members of the Body of Christ. We too have these moments where we “begin to believe in Jesus” in a much more resolute manner. This is especially true when we accept the miracle of being cleansed from sin through the blood of Christ imaged in the new wine.

This taste of forgiveness is liberating and when we experience it we become the echoers of the words of Mary to others, “Do whatever he tells you.” Those who are liberated from sin know full well to whom they owe such liberation and power and to whom they are to send others. There is certainly a place for counseling but in the end, only Jesus brings the cleansing and new life every person seeks. Mary is a model of this freedom and mission. The Cana miracle places Mary in the prime role of intercessor and reveals the role she will one day play in the age of the church. At the miracle of Cana, Mary is the one who identifies the need that exists among the people and she brings the need to Jesus. Trustingly she places the matter in his hands knowing that he will do whatever he deems appropriate. Later from the cross, at the Hour of glory, Jesus will place her firmly in this role of caring for us as he entrusts John to her care. John represents all of us; he is the church, and the church is then likewise entrusted with receiving her into its circle of disciples. Mary is given to each and all of us and even now she continues her role of intercessor for the needs of all.

Questions for reflection

1. How have I welcomed Mary into my relationship with God?

2. What are some needs in my life that could be brought to the Lord?

3. Whom in my life could I direct to Jesus?

 

Fr. Vander Steeg is pastor of St. Mary Parish, Greenville, and St. Edward Parish, Mackville.

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