The Wedding at Cana is found only in the Gospel of John. John’s gospel was written after the other gospels. Rather than give another chronological account of Jesus’ life as the others had, he focused on the meaning of these events. In the same way that Jesus used parables to teach about the Kingdom of God, John uses real events layered with symbols and reoccurring themes to reveal spiritual truths. In his telling of the Wedding at Cana John highlights the themes of compassion, the role of Mary, the sacraments and of faith.
It appears that Mary has been helping with the wedding festivities – it is she that notices the wine has run out. It was common for a wedding party to last many days. To run out of wine midway through the celebration would have been a cause of great embarrassment for the host. Mary in her compassion turns to Jesus for help.
We know that in the wilderness Jesus spent forty days in prayer and in fasting, devoting himself to knowing and submitting to God’s will. Yet here, he immediately adapts those plans at his mother’s request even though he says, “Woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come”. While Jesus’ response might sound like a rebuke to us, it causes Mary no distress. She knows that ‘Woman’ is a term of honour and respect. She confidently turns to the servants and instructs them to ‘Do whatever he tells you’. Mary’s compassion is rewarded and her role as intercessor is clearly established.
Jesus tells the servants to fill six water jugs to the brim. These jugs were used as part of the Jewish washing ritual. Then the water is turned to wine and the dirty made clean. Jesus not only creates wine out of wash water, he produces an abundance of the very best wine. We often see in Jesus’ miracles how he lavishes us with his grace! We are also reminded of the sacraments; the wine turned to blood in the Eucharist and the waters of Baptism. The disciples would have been well aware that both a wedding feast and an abundance of wine were prophecies about the coming of the Messiah. Their eyes were opened as they recognized who Jesus really was and believed in him.
The bible often uses the Wedding Feast to symbolize Heaven, and we know that Jesus loved to laugh and party with his friends. What a joy it will be when we are all gathered together with him in a celebration that will never end!