Sunday, January 20, 2013

The marriage at Caana

Christmas and the Epiphany give two aspects of Christ's coming.  Christmas celebrates His birth and coming to the Jewish people.  Epiphany is about His manifestation to the whole world, ie to the non-Jews or gentiles.  (The word Epiphany is from the Greek word phainein, meaning to show).

In celebrating the Epiphany, the Church meditates on three events: the visit of the Magi, the Lord's baptism by St John the Baptist, and the marriage at Caana.  So it's appropriate for yesterday's Gospel to be about the third of these.  (In the Novus Ordo lectionary, even if though today is listed as a Sunday in ordinary time, rather than a Sunday in theEpiphany season.) 

While the wedding feast at Caana shows the practical  charity of Mary and Our Lord, this is not the main point.  St John includes it in his gospel because it manifested [Jesus'] glory and His disciples believed in Him (John 2:11).  And it does this in three ways.

First, St John (who was actually present) quotes the Master of Ceremonies.  While other people used the best wine first, and brought out the cheaper wine when the guests were inebriated and less critical, the MC says in surprise But you have kept the good wine until now.  For St John, this indicated a deeper truth.  After the Mosaic dispensation, Christ has now come and provides the good wine.

Second, when Mary points out the lack of wine, the Lord says, My hour has not yet come.  For St John, this was a reference to the passion on Calvary, and the water and wine at the wedding feast pre-figure the water and blood that come from the Lord's pierced side.

Again, John was an eye-witness at the Crucifixion and later mentions the water and blood coming from the Saviour's side (John 19:34).  He continued to meditate on this, noting in one of his letters (1 John 5:6) that Jesus Christ [came] not by water only but with the water and the blood.

Third, the humble wedding feast prefigures Heaven, which is characterised as the marriage of Christ and His Church. 

This is touched on in the other Gospels, which quote Our Lord's statement that He is the Bridegroom and the parable about the wedding feast. But it is St John who - in the Book of Revelation/the Apocalypse - describes how the marriage is celebrated at the end of time, after all this world's tribulations have passed (Rev 19:7-9). 

As the angel said to St John, Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.  The point is adverted to in the Novus Ordo, when the priest proclaims, This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper

And, as wine is meant to bring joy (Ps 104:15), let's ask Our Lady to pray that we may be admitted to the feast.  Cause of our Joy, pray for us.   

No comments:

Post a Comment