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John 2:1-12 — On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him: “They have no more wine.” “Lady, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.
One can read the Gospel of John for all eternity and keep discovering more and more connections. It was Tuesday. Jesus and Mary were attending a rather large wedding feast, the kind that lasted several days. Thirsty guests had consumed all the wine. Someone noticed and Mary was informed. I always wondered why Mary noticed the lack of wine. It is most likely that Mary lived a consecrated life. That included avoiding wine. In her account of the life of Mary, Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich observes that Mary even made limited use of vinegar (necessary to purify water in those days, vinegar is a natural disinfectant.) To my mind, perhaps there were rumors about Mary’s son being a worker of miracles. A passage in John 7 seems to indicate that Jesus’ ability to do miraculous things was known to his immediate family.
John 7:7-9 — After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him. Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.
Here we can see that Jesus had a time in mind to “manifest himself to the world” and when Mary urges him to act, he gives her the same response that he will later give to his brothers, my time is not yet arrived. At the urging of Mary though, he decides to help his hosts with some extra wine for the wedding banquet. Mary manages to make him “reveal his glory.” The Logos, the Word of God incarnate was secretly living in this world. He had arrived through Mary and in that wedding his glory was revealed. The same woman that had volunteered to be the mother of the Logos incarnate was now instrumental in making him begin his mission.
Why did this happen during a wedding? Why on the third day of the week? Why did he appears to ever so slightly resist Mary’s petition? There are so many questions! Obviously, Jesus was aware that they were running out of wine. Nothing escapes the attention of Logos because he is the will, the acting force, the principle, and the underlying logic (the words logos, and logic are intimately related) of the universe. This was the beginning of his signs and a wedding both signify a beginning of a new life for a young couple and the promise of future life. Saint John talks about the beginning of the universe in his first chapter, and the theme returns in the second chapter. In this other beginning, the Logos –the Word– is also there with one little addition: he is God, he is with God, and he is also man. He willed that wedding to happen on the third day of the week.
Genesis 1:9-13 — And God said, ‘Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
The “first of his signs” occurred on “the third day” thus connecting his actions to the third day of creation. The two basic actions of Logos on the third day of Genesis are a division (sea and firm land) and the creation of the first level of material life (fruitful vegetation.) This time is not different. He has come to divide:
Luke 12:52 — “Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against.”
That division he is beginning to cause —already mentioned in John 7:7-9— will be the main theme of his preaching, and he will often compare it to a harvest where the fruitful part of the wheat is kept while the useless chaff is burned. In fact, John the Baptist had prophesied of him:
Luke 3:17 — “His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
The whole image reveals a new creation is under way. The Logos has come to a world lost to error, sin, and death. His will is to order the chaos by means of a new creation that began secretly when Mary was conceived without sin, so she could be the perfect vessel that can contain the life of God without being in the least conflict with it. That had been the first day of the new creation, when the Spirit of God descended upon that unique woman in a similar manner to the first day of the material creation:
Genesis 1:1-2 — In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Compare carefully with …
Luke 1:26-37 — God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit (pneuma hagion) will come upon you (epeleusetai epi,) and the power of the Most High (dynamis hypsistou) will overshadow (episkasei)
you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God […]”
Notice how the words of the angel to Mary resemble the words of Genesis. In the beginning of the new creation the Spirit of God descends upon Mary from on high to generate life in her. This time that will be the very life of God himself in the mystery of the Incarnation. That was the first day of the secret new creation by Logos. The world that was made by him is now going to contain its own Creator.
Light was created also in the first day. In John 1:4-5 Saint John reveals us that “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” The first events of the new creation follow the same logical order of the material creation.
“Do whatever he tells you”
The response of Jesus to Mary’s gentle prodding is enigmatic: “Why do you involve me in this, Lady? My hour has not yet come.” The English rendering conceals the honor and respect of that expression. Jesus talks to Mary as a Prince would address a Queen Mother. Jesus’ response sounds like a negative but Mary understands like only a mother can understand a son. She calmly says to the servants “Do whatever he tells you” and the mission of the Logos begins to roll. A new kind of life is sprouting, just as described in the third day of Genesis. Jesus —the vine— will show the lucky guests at Cana a tiny advance of the fruits of this new vine. (John 15:5).
The servants obey Mary and follow Jesus’ instructions. Those servants are a prophetic model of you and me, and the whole Church. We are here to obey Mary and do what Jesus tells us to do. Six large water vessels reserved for washing purposes are filled to the rim. Six is the number of man, those vessels also are a symbol of us mortal men. Both are made from mud and filled with impure contents at best. Logos turns that water into the finest wine. “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) — The mission of Logos will be accomplished, the vine will give its fruit and that will turn in time into the most perfect wine. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37).
What do you think of the third day being related more to Jesus’ Resurrection on the Third Day, and the Wedding signifying Jesus committing His Blood to His Communion with His ( to be) Church? I took the third day being the third day after His Baptism, but I don’t know anything.
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Hello, Monica! Yes “third day” certainly evokes the Resurrection which comes in the third day after Jesus died on the cross. In this case St John is talking about the day of the week. Basically St John is saying that it was Tuesday. Having said that, the Holy week follows –to the best of my very personal belief– a certain order that can serve as a prophetic model of the life of the Church. The time before his death, Christ ascends from Jericho to Jerusalem, that is from the first city conquered by Joshua (same name as Jesus in Hebrew) all the way to Jerusalem (City of Peace) the last city conquered by David. So Israel is a prophetic model of the coming Church (St Paul agrees) and the last days of Jesus can be used as a eschatological model of the last days of the Church. All of it is intertwined and makes for a fascinating meditation material. So your observation is meaningful. Notice how many things in the Bible happen in periods of three days… there are many instances of that.
P.S. I touched that subject on my series “You know neither the day nor the hour” (1 through 6) in this blog.
Wonderful, as always. Thanks, Carlos.
The opening of John’s Gospel has always been my favorite part of the Bible. You can read it like a great poem, a philosophical treatise, and a theological overview all at the same time.
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