Of his fulness we have received…
We are, so to speak, well into the Church’s new liturgical year, but as yet we have still to begin in earnest our reading of Luke’s gospel. This will begin next Sunday with the drama of Jesus’ appearance at his home synagogue at Nazara. Instead today, what we have to contemplate is a beautiful introduction from John’ gospel which leads us into a profound appreciation of the glory we have received in the person of Jesus Christ. Therefore today’s gospel can act as a cross over in our thinking between the mystery of the incarnation, about which we have been thinking through our celebration of Christmas and Epiphany, i.e. the divine revelation of Jesus as the word made flesh, and the revealing of the human reality of Jesus as a person like you and me, as he begins to teach and instruct us in our encounter with him through his words and deeds.
Like every story in John’s gospel, the wedding feast at Cana has many layers of symbolism which can be mined to discover so many meanings. Beginning with the simple reality of the event – a wedding party which suffers a rather embarrassing occurrence – to its majestic conclusion – a moment of revelation about Jesus and his identity – we are able to extract so much which we can apply to our own lives and our own experiences.
The unexpected and the unforeseen can strike at any time. You may well consider that the wedding organisers were a bit negligent in not ensuring enough wine for the celebration, but we shouldn’t point the finger as often our own efforts in making adequate preparations regularly fall short, particularly in our spiritual and prayer lives. The response of Jesus’ mother to this shortfall has much to say to us. She turns to her son and asks us to do the same. And whilst Jesus’ response may in the first instance seem a bit strange and dismissive, it is perhaps a moment of challenge to us because it causes us to examine ourselves. Jesus constantly asks us to realise that in turning to him we are asked to become aware of the paths our lives will take. It is a journey towards the “hour” which in John’s gospel means the cross. Thus when we turn to Jesus for help and guidance we must realise how the cross will have its impact within the reality of how our difficulties and problems are to be overcome.
Yet we know they will be overcome because of what happens in the story. The steward is told to fill the water jars to the brim and when he draws some out the water has changed into wine and the quantity generated is a massive 5,400 glasses! What is the symbolism of this miracle? I think that John is telling us something quite unique. As with the miracle of the loaves, so here with the miracle of the wine shouldn’t we recognise a eucharistic connection? Bread and wine being offered in an abundance which can never be exhausted. The presence of Jesus in the sacrament of the Eucharist is his dwelling amongst us. It is the symbol of his life in us, overcoming our human weaknesses and frailties by inviting us to his banquet. It is his fulness which we receive as we come to the table and partake of the food and drink which he so bountifully provides for us. It is the greatest of gifts which we should treasure above all else.
Of his fulness we have received one gist relaxing another; the law came through Moses, grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.