Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Second Sunday after Epiphany AD 2005
“He manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.”[1]

Ordinary of the Mass
Today's Mass text - Latin
Today's Mass text - English

    In Saint John’s description of our Lord’s first miracle, there is the suggestion that Jesus was not expecting to be called upon to work a miracle at this early stage in His public life:  “My hour has not yet come.”  But, I think it is safe to conjecture that our Lord was, as they say, “putting us on.”  The changing of water into wine at the wedding feast is of such great symbolic value that it is difficult to see it as anything other than God’s specific plan:

    What better way to demonstrate God’s divine providence working through His Son than to provide for the needs of those who are wanting—and a generous provision at that, providing not just for the peoples’ temporal necessities but for their earthly happiness as well.  Jesus could just have told everyone that they had been partying long enough—these wedding lasted literally for days—He could have just sent them home—but instead, He produced six very large stone jars full of the best wine they had ever tasted.

    What better way to answer, forever, the future heretics who would claim that all material things are evil;  that mankind is cursed by imprisonment in a material body;  that death is a sort of perverse “sacrament,” liberating the spiritual soul from the alleged “evil” of material existence?

    And what better way might there have been to demonstrate the role of the Blessed Mother Mary in the Christian order of things?  It was not Jesus who noticed the lack of wine, but Mary;  solicitous for her friends.  And do you really suppose that the bridegroom would have gone to Jesus directly with His problem?  Even if they knew of Jesus’ miraculous abilities, it is very likely that the bridal couple would not have had the nerve to ask—but Mary didn’t even feel it necessary to ask;  she just began telling the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do, knowing full well that she would not be disappointed.

    And what better way to prepare people for the Sacraments which our Lord would institute?  Saint John places the wedding feast immediately after the Baptism of our Lord in the Jordan River, and the choosing of the first Apostles.[2]  Jesus had thus sanctified water as an element for mankind’s spiritual purification, and selected the men who would become His first priests, the dispensers of His Sacraments.  There is something Eucharistic about this first miracle—obviously, Jesus’ changing of water into wine prefigures the changing of bread and wine into His Body and Blood in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—perhaps less obviously, as a joyful thanksgiving for a marriage, a wedding feast very well prefigures the Eucharist, a word that comes from the Greek for “joyful thanksgiving.”

    Finally, we can observe that this miracle fits very well into the plan of Saint John’s Gospel—the need for which, God would certainly have foreseen from all eternity.  Saint John was called upon—probably after the death of the other Apostles—to write this book.  His Gospel may actually be the last book of the Bible, chronologically.[3]  Saint Jerome tells us that it was requested by the Church in order to set down the authentic teaching of Jesus Christ about His own divinity—for “the bishops of Asia (modern day Turkey) were battling Cerinthus, and other heretics, especially the Ebionites.... who were beginning to teach that Christ had no existence before Mary.  John wrote to clearly assert the divine origin of Jesus Christ.”[4]  John included only a few of our Lord’s miracles—the synoptic Gospels relate many more—but the ones John mentioned are all very significant theologically:

    John deals with the resurrection of the dead in the spectacular rising of Jesus’ friend, Lazarus, after he had been four days in the tomb.[5]  John mentions the healing of a blind man, paying close attention to the sacramental-like way in which Jesus made clay to anoint the man’s eyes, restoring his sight.[6]  John narrates the healing of a paralytic, but even this is more of an occasion to explain the proper relationship of man to the Sabbath than simply a miracle.[7]  A royal official’s son is healed in Capharnaum, while Jesus was fully a quarter of the way around the lake at Cana.[8]

    Perhaps the most significant of the few miracles John mentions are found in his sixth chapter, where Jesus feeds five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes, walks across the lake toward Capharnaum from the other side, and then unequivocally promises that He will soon give His followers His flesh to eat and His blood to drink—a clear demonstration of His divinity, a clear testimony of the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, all beginning with a miracle demonstrating His ability to actually make such things happen.  “I am the Bread of Life.”

    And that brings us back to today’s miracle; this demonstration of divine providence, of the goodness of all creation, of the divinity of Christ and the role of His Blessed Mother, this foreshadowing of the Real Presence and the “joyful thanksgiving” of the Holy Eucharist.

    Understand, please, that Saint John is not simply recounting history;  not simply telling us a pleasant story about a joyful wedding that he once attended as a young man.  Just as he wrote at the request of the Church when men started to deny the divinity of Christ at the end of the first century, his words are extended to us, when men are once again denying the divinity of Christ in the twenty-first century.  John’s Gospel is not very hard to read—surely more interesting than most of what you will see watching television—reading it just might make something of an Apostle out of you—it certainly will make you a better Catholic.  “He who saw [these things] has borne witness, and his witness is true ... and he tells the truth that you also may believe.[9]


[1]   Gospel:  John ii: 1-11.

[2]   Cf. John i: 15ff.

[3]   Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “John, Gospel of”

[4]   Book of Saint Jerome on Church Writers, Second Nocturn of the Feast of St. John, 27 December.

[5]   John xi: 1-44.

[6]   John ix: 1-38.

[7]   John v: 1-18.

[8]   John iv: 46-54.

[9]   John xix: 35.


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