The Wedding at Cana

by Sister Diane Heiss, SDSH

Picture of the Church in Cana taken by a Sacred Heart Sister

Many of us, upon hearing the opening strains of the Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn or being invited to a wedding, have nostalgic memories of our own or a loved one’s wedding. The couple, filled with hopes and dreams for their future, have radiant faces as the bride walks down the aisle and her groom awaits her in front of the altar, love shining forth from his eyes.

From experience we know what to expect when invited to a wedding: a Mass or Para liturgy in which the couple exchange vows and their union is blessed; a reception; possibly a meal and a dance; all within a one day time span.  No one would think of packing a suitcase to attend a wedding nearby, OR WOULD THEY? Not here, of course, but in the Middle East a few thousand years ago, perhaps.

In 1st century Israel at the time of Jesus, honeymoons were not the norm.  The couple celebrated with family and friends during the wedding feast which generally lasted a week. Imagine you are the parents of the newlyweds. For years you have planned and saved for this celebration and now the unthinkable has happened: you run out of wine. There are no supermarkets nearby to purchase more, so this lack will be a major humiliation for you and the couple, one which everyone will remember for many years.

This did occur in the village of Cana in Galilee nearly 2,000 years ago.  The parents of the bride and the groom had invited Mary and her son Jesus to attend the wedding. Since Nazareth and Cana were less than five miles apart, it is probable they were relatives or family friends. Their presence would add to the joy of the celebration, but then came a shock. Even though they had also invited Jesus’ disciples, had they known how many would come? While graciously welcoming the guests, the frantic parents might have been mentally calculating how much extra food and wine they would need. Perhaps they could stretch the food by preparing more bread, but wine?  The wine was already diluted according to custom, so people would notice the addition of more water.

At this point Mary, with a mother’s heart, noticed the situation and informed Jesus that there was no more wine. Initially he responded with “How does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”  (Jn. 2: 4) However, as the most loving and obedient of sons, he could never refuse a request from Mary, his mother, for she never refused a request from God, his father. Therefore, when she told the waiters to “Do whatever he tells you,” Jesus told them to fill the six stone purification jugs with water, which he then turned into wine, the best wine, according to the chief steward.

The Wedding Feast at Cana is one of the manifestations of Jesus when he revealed himself in a clearer way, thus helping others to believe in him. Jesus continues to show himself in numerous ways, inviting us to respond. What is the quality of our response? Is it wholehearted, halfhearted, or merely a token gesture? At Cana, Jesus performed a miracle, but it was up to the waiters to provide the water. Each jug held 20 to 30 gallons. What if they did not want to bother making quite a few trips to the village well and only added a gallon to each jug? The resulting six gallons would not have gone far. However, they did as requested, and received the gift of 120 to 180 gallons of the best wine.

For your family:

  • Share ways you recognize Jesus coming to you or acting in your lives.
  • Pray for the gift of fidelity for all married couples and support engaged couples as they prepare for marriage.
  • Talk to your children about the importance of a man and a woman receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony and inviting Jesus to be the
    “spiritual glue” that holds them together.
  • Speak with your children about what they will see and hear at a Catholic wedding. The Rite of Matrimony can be located by typing the
    following into your device’s space bar:   Celebration of Matrimony (The Order of Celebrating Matrimony #58-69)
  • Spend time in prayer with Jesus about the frequency and quality of your response to him.
  • As you slowly read John 2:1 – 12, use the gift of your imagination to place yourself there:  what do you see, hear and feel?
  • If you are anticipating your wedding and are not confirmed, contact your parish for information regarding Confirmation preparation
    classes for adults.

Published in Orange County Catholic paper 1/21/2024 – Click for original article