Characters of Cana

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wedding-feast-fullWith 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

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 Guests

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? 

The Disciples

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.

Fr. Edward Lee Looney

Fr. Edward Lee Looney

Fr. Edward L. Looney was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Green Bay on June 6, 2015. Fr. Looney has a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother, is a member of the Mariological Society of America, and has researched and written extensively on the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, recognized as the first and only approved Marian apparition in the United States. His most recent work is A Rosary Litany. To learn more visit: Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author are his alone, and do not reflect those of his diocese. He seeks to always remain faithful to the Magisterium.

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4 thoughts on “Characters of Cana”

  1. Avatar

    Augustine interpreted Christ’s response to Mary on the wine shortage at Cana as confrontational and 95% of subsequent translators followed his unfortunate interpretation and therefore they then gave not literal translations of what Christ said to Mary but they gave “sense for sense” translations of what he said. The result was translation disaster. Translations should have stuck with Christ’s original words: “what to me and to you “….which is not rude and is a rarely used idiom in scripture.
    Instead of those harmless words we get instead Augustine’s son/mom arguing ( Augustine had many confrontational moments with his mom over being an heretical Manichaean prior to conversion).
    Here are Protestant and Catholic sense for sense son/mom cold words from Christ:

    John 2:4Revised Standard Version (RSV)
    4 And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”

    John 2:4New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
    4 [a][And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”

    Pretty self involved Christ thanks to Augustine. But the literal Christ was actually assuring Mary that He would do the miracle by using the rare idiom (what to me and to you) ( see Vulgate) …because it is used by Eliseus in 2 Kings 3 ( in the Vulgate) right before he miraculously produces water that looks like blood to the distant enemy, the Moabites. Christ had explained that passage to Mary before Cana in terms of water, blood, wine previously in one of the most important veiled prophecy sections of the OT…2 Kings 3 and 4 concerning Christ as Messiah. They didn’t have gadgets like we do…they discussed scripture after supper like the gadgetless Amish do. And no one knew veiled scripture better than Christ who inspired them all in union with the Holy Spirit.
    Christ by using Eliseus’ “what to me and to you” brought Mary’s mind to the water/ blood passage and she immediately knows Christ just said YES I’ll change the water into wine like Eliseus changed water into blood in the perception of the Moabites. Augustine and his millions of followers could never understand how Mary heard an immediate yes where Augustine saw resistance by Christ. Now y’all know. It’s all about 2 Kings 3. And ps…Christ was assuring Mary in that moment that He would not be killed soon…but that’s an even deeper level of this moment. Mary feared that if Christ went public with a miracle, He would be arrested and killed quickly as the prophecies called for….but that was three years in the future but Mary didn’t know that. As she approached Christ with anxiety on her face yet wanting help for the couple, Christ saw the anxiety in her eyes and expression and voice tenor….and He assuaged it with those same ancient words…” what to me and to you”… ” woman” ( mother of all the living)…. my hour has not yet come ( my hour to be arrested and killed is several years off….don’t fret mom).
    That all is why Mary heard an immediate yes….where Augustine placed his own son/ mom baggage which colors 95% of English translations. Stay with the Vulgate…” what to me and to you”.

  2. Avatar

    I have to remember where the idea comes from, but I like the idea that one of the Saints put forth where Jesus’s reticence to comply with Mary’s request was his realization (per Simeon’s prophecy) of the pain that his ministry and death would cause his mother, and him basically double-checking that she understood what his doing a miracle like that in public entailed for both His life and for hers from that point forward.

    Also, those bride and groom were lousy at throwing a party — or at being hosts (seems that they weren’t thinking of their guests). They couldn’t plan worth a damn and their social status was only saved by His miracle. Of course, since Jesus was a single guy going stag to said wedding and hanging out with his mother, it’s not like the couple or any of the other married folks there would have even paid attention to what the Lord was doing!

    1. Avatar

      There’s a bad tendency among the modern Idolaters of Marriage to make this sense ABOUT a wedding rather than AT a wedding (a.k.a. where Jesus would have encountered large amounts of wine that would be quickly drunk — even through the Late Middle Ages, “revelries” as a word referred to wedding feasts because that’s the only place where such drinking occurred). That the Gospel Narrative focuses on the *servants* rather than on the *hosts* is a KEY signifier of the Gospel message, lost to modern couples who focus only on the money blown on their own receptions.

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