With the month of October underway, the Catholic world has commenced the Month of the Rosary. During this month, Catholics are encouraged to pray the rosary more often and meditate on the mysteries of Christ’s life. In 2002, Pope John Paul II gave the faithful a fourth set of mysteries, the Mysteries of Light, which focused on the public ministry of Christ. It is the second Mystery of Light that I wish to focus my reflection on today—the Wedding Feast of Cana. (If you need a refresher, see John 2:1-12)
For the purposes of this reflection, I’d like to focus on each character of the wedding feast, their role and significance in the manifestation of Jesus’ first miracle during his public ministry. In so doing, I hope this reflection can aid your meditation on this mystery of Christ’s ministry.
The Bride and the Groom
This couple just celebrated one of the happiest moments of their life and, as a result, they throw a great celebration for their guests, including the incarnate Son of God, His disciples, and Blessed Mother. Think of the embarrassment that overcame them when they realized the wine was running low. They must have worried about what they would do or what others would say.
Oftentimes, we focus so much on Jesus’ miracle and Mary’s intercession that we overlook the Bride and the Groom, but they are important characters in this gospel. Their need, their crisis, is the impetus for Christ’s miracle.
The Blessed Virgin Mary
The gospel is quick to point out that the Blessed Mother is there; she is part of the first sentence: “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.” One of my favorite titles of Our Lady is the Attentive Virgin. Marialis Cultus explains this title of Mary, saying that she was attentive to the Word of God (MC, 17). Even more so, Mary was attentive to the needs of her cousin Elizabeth when it was announced that she too was with child.
At the wedding feast, Mary is attentive to the needs of others, the bride and the groom. She notices the wine is running low, and so she goes to her son and shares her concern and instructs the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” At this wedding feast, we see Mary as an intercessor and mediatrix of grace. If it were not for this wedding feast, these roles of Mary might never have been recognized. Thank God for that bride and groom!
In response to his mother, Jesus says His hour has not yet come. Yet, he inaugurates this hour, which means the hour will eventually culminate with the climax of the Paschal Mystery—the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. He turns the water into wine, a foreshadowing of another future miracle of Jesus, which continues to this day, the changing of bread and wine into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus. This is only the first wine; the best is yet to come!
The servants received simple instructions: fill these jugs with wine. After doing so, the head waiter tasted the water turned into wine, what were his thoughts? What did the servers think? They were cooperators with Christ in this miracle. Did they realize their cooperation? Like them, we must cooperate with the grace of God so He can work His miracles in the lives of others through us.
The wine was running short because the guests had perhaps already had their fill. Were they aware of what had happened? Did they notice that the wine served last was superior to the inferior wine served first?
John tells us that Jesus and his disciples were also at this wedding feast. At the end of the gospel, John says “in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.” Wine running low and Mary’s attentiveness in bringing the need to her son become a catalyst for belief among those whom Jesus has called to follow Him.
Each one of us should give thanks to God for the bride and groom whose wedding brought Jesus and Mary to Cana in Galilee. They have contributed much to the ministry of Jesus and the role of Mary in the Church. Today, Mary still goes to her son as the Attentive Virgin; she tells him “they have no wine.” She intercedes for us as we cry out our Ave’s: “pray for us now and at the hour of our death.” Mary wishes to intercede and serve as a mediatrix of grace in our lives.