John 2:1-12; Genesis 3:15; John 19:26
The Story in Brief
Early in Jesus' public ministry, Jesus, His mother, and His disciples were invited to a wedding at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother found out somehow that the hosts had run out of wine, and she came to Jesus with a simple statement, “They have no wine.” At first, Jesus seemed to deny His mother's implied request that He do something to help, but apparently their conversation extended more deeply than their words, for His mother instructed the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” Jesus told the servants to fill six stone water jars with water. Then He commanded them to draw out some of the liquid and take it to the chief steward. The servants did so, and probably much to their relief, the chief steward discovered a wine of superior quality to that previously served at the wedding. Jesus' glory was revealed, and His disciples began to believe in Him.
Points to Ponder
1. The wedding at Cana happened on “the third day.” Ponder the prophetic significance of this. Could it perhaps point toward the Resurrection?
2. Mary is always called the “mother of Jesus” in this text rather than by her given name. Why?
3. Meditate on Mary's loving care for those around her. She knew the situation of the wedding hosts even though she was only a guest. She was paying close attention, and she wanted to help.
4. Mary immediately approached Jesus on behalf of the hosts. Reflect on Mary's prompt and loving intercession.
5. Running out of wine doesn't seem like a very big deal, even though such a dilemma would have been embarrassing for the wedding hosts. Meditate on how Jesus and Mary care about our smallest problems.
6. Mary's statement, “They have no wine,” was so simple. It was just a statement, not even a request. Ponder her deep and abiding trust in Jesus.
7. Jesus called his mother “woman.” Look up Genesis 3:15 and John 19:26 and ponder the connection between all three passages. Many scholars use these texts to show how Mary is our Coremptrix who merits subordinately with Jesus the graces of our redemption and then distributes those graces as Mediatrix and prays for us as our Advocate.
8. At first, Jesus seemed like He would respond unfavorably to Mary's implied request. Why does God in His omniscience and mystery sometimes delay answering prayers?
9. Jesus' words may seem a little rude, but basically He was asking His mother why this lack of wine was their problem. Why would He ask that?
10. Jesus said, “My hour has not yet come.” What did Jesus mean by this? One author says, “As of that moment, Jesus' hour had not yet come. But, once He performs the miracle, then His hour will begin. His march to the Cross will begin. A course will be set that will cause great suffering for both Him and His mother. I think Jesus simply wants to make sure that Mary truly understands what is about to happen and the full scope of her request” (see phat catholic apologetics).
11. Think about the nonverbal conversation that took place between Jesus and Mary.
12. Mary said to the servants what she always says: “Do whatever He tells you.” That is Mary's primary message, for she always directs our attention to her Son. Ponder this truth.
13. The servants filled six stone water jars that were usually used for ritual purification. Why did Jesus put them to this new use? Could He have been suggesting the fulfillment and surpassing of Jewish rites?
14. Each jar held twenty to thirty gallons, more wine than strictly necessary. Meditate on how God is extravagant in His answers to our prayers, how He is lavish with us, and how He goes above and beyond our needs.
15. Ponder Jesus' simple orders. He merely commanded the servants to fill the jars with water.
16. The servants obeyed Jesus' orders. This act was a credit to them, for they had no idea what He was doing. Even so, they did not question Him. Reflect on this unquestioning obedience.
17. Jesus' next command was harder for the servants. There was some risk in drawing liquid out and taking it to the chief steward. The servants probably thought they were going to look like fools for bringing their boss a drink of water, but they obeyed anyway without question. Why?
18. Think carefully about the miracle of water turned into wine. Jesus never touched the water. He didn't speak any words over it. He silently willed it to be wine, and it was. Meditate on Jesus' power and complete control of the world around Him.
19. Think about the steward's cluelessness. He completely missed the miracle that had just occurred.
20. St. John makes a point of telling us that the servants knew. Ponder the blessing of the lowly, the humble, and the obedient.
21. Jesus is often referred to as the Bridegroom. Look deeply into this text about a wedding and a bridegroom to discover the message beneath its surface.
22. The water became wine of superior quality. What is the significance of this?
23. Ponder the symbolism of the water turned into wine on many levels. What might this miracle symbolize in the Church, in the Bible, and in our own lives?
24. This was the first of Jesus' signs, as miracles are called in St. John's Gospel. Why did Jesus choose this as His first sign?
25. Jesus revealed His glory, and the disciples believed in Him. Ponder the purpose of signs, which point to something beyond themselves.
26. Reflect on this mystery's message about marriage. After all, Jesus' first sign was in the context of a wedding celebration.
1. Do you immediately go to Jesus with any need or problem, even the small things? Why or why not?
2. How is your relationship with Mary, the Mother of God? Do you believe that she loves you and intercedes for you?
3. Do you trust Jesus to respond to all your needs, explicit or implicit, spoken and unspoken? How does that trust affect your life? How might you grow in trust?
4. Has there ever been a time when God seemed to delay in answering your prayers or a time when He didn't seem to answer them at all? How did you feel? Why do you suppose God responded in the way He did? Have you learned a lesson from an unanswered prayer?
5. Do you ever share in nonverbal conversation with Jesus? Is your prayer ever beyond words? What is that experience like?
6. How do you imitate Mary in pointing to Jesus? How do you accept her message of “Do whatever He tells you” and pass that message along?
7. How has God been extravagant with you?
8. Have you ever noticed that God's commands are very simple yet are not always easy to fulfill?
9. Do you unquestioningly obey God even when you don't understand?
10. Do you understand that God is in control? How might your life and attitude be different if you kept that truth always in mind?
11. Are you humble enough to see miracles? Why or why not?
12. In which areas of your life do you need to ask Jesus to change water into wine?
Prayer, Prayer, and More Prayer
Blessing and adoration – Lord Jesus, You turned water into wine by silently willing it. Your power and control are greater than we can ever grasp. We bow our heads in silent adoration and worship You, our omnipotent God.
Praise – Jesus, we praise You for always answering our prayers, even when You give us an answer we don't expect. We praise You for changing water into wine, both at the wedding and in our lives. We praise You for Your power and Your glory and Your awesome signs, Lord Jesus.
Thanksgiving – Jesus, how can we ever thank You enough for Your answers to our prayers? We thank You for answering our largest prayers and our smallest prayers. We thank You for answering our prayers even when You do so in ways we don't understand. We thank You for answering our prayers even when You say “no”. And we thank You for giving us Your Mother Mary as our mother and intercessor.
Intercession – Lord, we lift up to You all newlyweds and those preparing for marriage. We lift up those who are lacking something they need, whether it is something major or minor. We lift up those who need to have the water of their lives changed into the wine of God's grace.
Petition – Jesus, help us, please, to be obedient to You even when we don't understand Your commands. Inspire our hearts to intercede with You for those around us who are in need. Grant us, Lord, the kind of intimate communication with You that does not always require words but is a communion of hearts.
Quotes from the Saints
“Nor is it without some mysterious allusion, that the marriage is related as taking place on the third day. The first age of the world, before the giving of the Law, was enlightened by the example of the Patriarchs; the second, under the Law, by the writings of the Prophets; the third, under grace, by the preaching of the Evangelists, as if by the light of the third day; for our Lord had now appeared in the flesh. The name of the place too where the marriage was held, Cana of Galilee, which means, desire of migrating, has a typical signification, viz. that those are most worthy of Christ, who burn with devotional desires, and have known the passage from vice to virtue, from earthly to eternal things.” - St. Bede
“But how came it into the mother's mind to expect so great a thing from her Son? for he had done no miracle as yet: as we read afterwards This beginning of miracles did Jesus. His real nature, however, was beginning now to be revealed by John, and His own conversations with His disciples; besides that His conception, and the circumstances of His birth, had from the first given rise to high expectations in her mind: as Luke tells us, His mother kept all these sayings in her heart. Why then did she never ask Him to work a miracle before? Because the time had now come that He should be made known. Before He had lived so much like an ordinary person, that she had not had the confidence to ask Him. But now that she heard that John had borne witness to Him, and that He had disciples, she asks Him confidently.” - St. John Chrysostom
“Water is poured into the waterpots; wine is drawn out into the chalices; the senses of the drawer out agree not with the knowledge of the pourer in. The pourer in thinks that water is drawn out; the drawer out thinks that wine was poured in. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was, (but the servants who drew the water knew,) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom. It was not a mixture, but a creation: the simple nature of water vanished, and the flavor of wine was produced; not that a weak dilution was obtained, by means of some strong infusion, but that which was, was annihilated; and that which was not, came to be.” - St. Hilary
“Our Lord wished the power of His miracles to be seen gradually; and therefore He did not reveal what He had done Himself, nor did the ruler of the feast call upon the servants to do so; (for no credit would have been given to such testimony concerning a mere man, as our Lord was supposed to be,) but He called the bridegroom, who was best able to see what was done. Christ moreover did not only make wine, but the best wine. And (the ruler of the feast) said to him, Every man at the beginning does set forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but you have kept the good wine until now. The effects of the miracles of Christ are more beautiful and better than the productions of nature. So then that the water was made wine, the servants could testify; that it was made good wine, the ruler of the feast and the bridegroom.” - St. John Chrysostom
“But see the mysteries which lie hid in that miracle of our Lord. It was necessary that all things should be fulfilled in Christ which were written of Him: those Scriptures were the water. He made the water wine when He opened to them the meaning of these things, and expounded the Scriptures; for thus that came to have a taste which before had none, and that inebriated, which did not inebriate before.” - St. Augustine