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The Epiphany of the Wedding at Cana
January 7th Readings Reflection: Christmas Weekday
There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
"They have no wine."
And Jesus said to her,
"Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come."
His mother said to the servers,
"Do whatever he tells you."
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told them,
"Fill the jars with water."
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
"Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter."
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
(although the servers who had drawn the water knew),
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
"Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now."
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.
Today’s Gospel tells of Jesus’ first public miracle, which began His three years of public ministry. St. John began his account of this miracle by saying that the wedding feast occurred on the third day, perhaps alluding to Jesus’ Resurrection that would occur on the third day after His Passion and Death. This also relates to the response Jesus gave His Mother when she told Him that they had run out of wine.
“Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” Many Christians read this as a rebuke, as though Jesus was answering His Mother coldly and seeming indifferent toward the married couple’s plight. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In those days, “woman” was a common expression that could be spoken in a loving manner. When He hung dying on the Cross, Jesus entrusted His Church to Mary, addressing her once again as “woman.” Thus, it seems that Our Lord used this as a term of affection toward His Mother. At the wedding feast, Mary was clearly not offended in any way by His words; instead, she immediately told the servers, “Do whatever [H]e tells you.”
Also, in St. John’s Gospel, the Evangelist always referred to Christ’s Passion and Death as Jesus’ “hour.” When the hour of His Passion came, Jesus stopped working miracles to fulfill what had been foretold about His sufferings in the Scriptures. Since His hour had not yet come at the wedding feast in Cana, He was able to perform this miracle that Mary had requested.
A couple years ago, I heard a beautiful homily on today’s Gospel passage, in which the priest connected the wedding at Cana to the Epiphany. The Feast of the Epiphany was yesterday, although the Church will observe it this Sunday. The word “Epiphany” means “manifestation.” The Church recognizes three manifestations — or Epiphanies — of Jesus in the early years of His life and ministry: first, to the Magi, who symbolized the Gentiles; second, at His Baptism in the Jordan River; and third, through His miracle at the wedding in Cana.
This third manifestation occurred through the intercession of Jesus’ Blessed Mother; at her request, Jesus performed His first miracle and began His public ministry. Mary continues to intercede for the faithful before the throne of her Son in Heaven, and as we pray in the Memorare, “never was it known that anyone who… sought [her] intercession was left unaided.” As we commemorate these two Epiphanies in the life of Jesus this weekend, may we remember to always seek Mary’s powerful intercession for all our needs, trusting that she will bring them to her Son, Who will answer them in accordance with His holy Will.