2 Sunday C - Wedding at Cana

Michel DeVerteuil Textual Comments
Sunday in the liturgy is always “the first day of the week,” so since Ordinary Time starts on the Monday after the Epiphany, this Sunday is called the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time. We might expect to start immediately with the continuous reading from the Synoptic Gospel for the year, which characterizes Ordinary Time. However, liturgical custom dictates otherwise: on this Sunday each year we meditate on a passage from the first chapters of St John’s gospel. It is as if the Church is reluctant to say farewell to the Christmas season – or perhaps reluctant to leave St John, since we have been reading from his gospel on the weekdays of Christmas.

On this Sunday of Year C we read the story of the Wedding Feast of Cana. As always with readings from St John, we take for granted that the passage is deeply symbolical, and so we can be very creative in our interpretation. By calling Jesus’ action a “sign” – the word this gospel always uses to refer to his miracles – the text invites us to see it as a living lesson leading us to understand God’s saving work in Jesus.
We celebrate God’s work from two points of view: as its beneficiaries, and as those called to collaborate with him in bringing it to fulfillment.

We can identify three aspects of the story:
– the miracle;
– how Jesus came to be involved;
– the intercessory power of Mary.

1. The miracle of Cana is the transformation of water into “the best wine”. What was colourless and bland becomes colourful and sparkling, a source of joy and energy.
Though we are free to apply the story to any experience of transformation, it is highly significant that the water was “meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews” ; this is a transformation of religion, therefore – it had become bland, self-centered, focused on personal purity, now it is renewed and brings joy into the world.

It is a common theme of the gospels that Jesus’ mission was to transform the religion of his time and make it more human – the Sabbath is for human beings, not human beings for the Sabbath. In Jesus’ parables the kingdom is often compared to a wedding feast; when the Pharisees complained that Jesus’ disciples did not fast, he answered that “the bridegroom was with them”; in contrast with John the Baptist, Jesus “comes eating and drinking.”
Another significant aspect of the miracle is that Jesus starts with the water that was there. This is a “sign” – the work of redemption, unlike creation, does not create out of nothing.

2.The was St John tells the story, Jesus chose to work the miracles as the conclusion of a personal journey in four stages:
a) Mary draws his attention to the need;
b) Jesus refuses to get involved on two counts,
– “Why turn to me?” (in the more common version, “What is that to me and to you?”)
– “My hour has not yet come”.
c) Mary tells the servants to do whatever Jesus says;
d) Jesus gets involved.
Scholars have offered different interpretations of Jesus’ journey. As always, personal experience is our most reliable guide. We can see the journey as the movement by which people of faith are led by God to enter into a new commitment, a new “hour” of grace, requiring a higher degree of self-giving.

Cana A3. Again starting with experience, we can see Mary as “the woman” – either within the human community or within each person. She is the compassionate one, sensitive to the needs of those around her, and sensitive also to the journey that Jesus must make, challenging him and yet leaving him free.

Prayer reflection
Lord, we thank you for times when, by a movement of grace,
we enter into a new level of commitment:
Cross and resurrection– begin praying more contemplatively;
– are reconciled with someone who has hurt us or our families;
– join a movement working for social change;
– enter a religious community;
– leave a secure job in order to serve the poor.
It always seems to happen suddenly.
We are doing things as we always have,
relating with family, friends and fellow workers as before.
When we hear that the people around us have no wine
we see no reason why they should turn to us;
like Jesus, we say, “My hour has not come yet.”
Then you send Mary into our lives,
someone who feels the pain of those around her,
someone who knows us so well that she perceives
that we are more ready to get involved than we realise.
She tells those around to trust us
and then leaves us to do things in our own way and at our own time.
Through some mysterious change of heart,
which neither others nor we ourselves can explain,
we find ourselves taking charge of the situation and answering the need,
transforming water into wine.
Your grace within us is revealed to others – and to ourselves.

“In Jerusalem, this holy city of three mighty religions,
no one seems to have the faith to make the peaceful decision.”
    …
David Rudder, calypsonian
Lord, the different religions of the world have as their special role
to preserve the vision of the world as a great wedding feast where
– ancient enemies are reconciled,
– ethnic groups work in harmony,
– human beings and nature are one,
– there is no more dualism between humanity and divinity.
But so often, when we find ourselves in a situation of conflict,
our groups act as if this is not our concern.
Like the water jars at the wedding feast of Cana,
which were meant for the ablutions that were customary among the Jews,
church unityour observances become a matter of preserving our identity
and of keeping ourselves pure, cleansing ourselves
from what we consider  the contamination of the world around us.
We pray that you will send us religious leaders like Jesus
who will transform our faith into a source of joy and vitality,
so that the men and women of our time will experience
that the religions of the world have kept their best wine till now.

A time will come when we will once again be called so to utter the Word of God that the world will be changed and renewed by it. It will be a new language, perhaps quite non-religious, but liberating and redeeming.”   ..Dietrich Bonhoffer
Lord, the preaching of your Word in our Church has so lost its power
that we are surprised when our contemporaries turn to us in their need.
We pray that the hour of grace will come
when the water which our preaching has become
will be transformed into delightful refreshing wine.


“We must find the courage to leave our temples and enter into the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with human suffering.”.
..
Buddhist saying
Lord, the hour always comes for your Church when, like Jesus at the wedding feast of Cana, we listen to the women among us and respond to the needs of the world.

“Night is our din our handsiocese and silence is our ministry, poverty is our charity and helplessness our tongue-tied sermon.”  Thomas Merton
Lord, give us the courage to come before you like Mary before Jesus,
Saying simply, “They have no wine,” and leaving the rest to you.

“The days are coming when harvest will follow directly after ploughing, the treading of grapes soon after sowing, when the mountains will run with new wine and the hills all flow with it.”  …Amos 9:13
Lord, your will is that the whole world should be a place of abundance
for the whole human family.
Yet Mary’s words to Jesus at the wedding feast of Cana
are echoing in many countries today.
Men and women have no wine to share with their families,
since the wine which nature provided for the festivals has all gone,
plundered by the modern economy, industrial estates and misdirected projects.
Forgive us that so often our Church says to them, “Why turn to us?”
We pray that like Jesus we will be moved to listen to the pain of your people
so that the hour of grace may come when we will work with them
to discover the untapped sources of abundance  among them,
and from the water jars standing there
they will draw out gallons of the best wine,
they will see your glory and believe in you.

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 Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration
This is the time of year when we start new endeavours. Jesus beginsTherefore/ today/ we recall the beginning of the public preaching and ministry of Jesus. The wedding feast at Cana was like his ‘coming out’: ‘He let his glory be seen and his disciples believed in him’ is how St John describes it. We are his disciples now, but we often fall short in the way we follow him and we often fail to reflect his glory to those around us. So let us examine ourselves to see what sort of disciples we are.
Homily Notes
1. The liturgy presents us with an embarrassment of riches today for preaching. First, there is the Cana incident, which is the dramatic, and memorable, opening of the ministry of Jesus in John’s gospel. Second, there is the passage from Paul on the gifts given to each church by the Spirit, which is one of the very few occasions in Ordinary Time when the second reading is such a sufficiently contained unit, and is also ac­cessible to the gathering from just listening to the passage, that it could be the basis of a homily. However, since there is no intrinsic nor intentional link between the second and the gospel, one must choose to preach on either one or other readings. In either case, the content of the homily can be ap­proach fairly directly.
If you opt for the Cana story, then use notes 2 and 3; if Paul, then notes 4 to 6.
Jesus and wine Cana2. We think we know the Cana story – we all have heard it umpteen times, and it is so well told by John with its powerful image of gallons of the best wine in giant jars that it is firmly planted in our memory. But do we see it as a ‘sign’?
3. The key message of John’s first ‘sign’, and one of the very foundations of our believing, can be summed up in ten words: The Divine One is with us and knows our needs. That which was promised to Israel is now among his people. Israel thought of God as good and loving and caring – and a key image of that relationship was that God not only provided food – basic needs – but wine, wine in abundance and freely available – symbolising all that is pleasant and joyful in the world. Wine, in ancient culture as in our own, was associated with having a party – we still bring a bottle when going to a dinner or a party – and wine in abundance was the symbol of generosity – we still do not want to be stingy with wine and then as now people thought of ways of not appearing stingy as we see in the chef’s comments that people serve the good wine first. The abundance of the best wine shows that God is not only infinitely generous, but that his greatest gift was what was only made known in that moment: the Son of God has come among us. Like the best wine which only came at the end of a long period of waiting, so came Jesus in the his­tory of Israel. God is generous and loving and wine is a fit­ting image of his care, but his greatest generosity is sending his own Son among us. It is this gift of the Christ that we thank the Father for every time we gather for the Eucharist and we celebrate his gift in our banquet of bread and wine.
lay ministeries4. Paul looks at how the various members of the church to whom he is writing have received a variety of gifts. We Christians see the diversity of people with all the various tal­ents as an indication of the goodness and wisdom of God: it is all this variety working with co-ordination that makes the church and builds the kingdom.
5. However, while we know that there is a variety of gifts and the one Spirit, we are often slow to act on it. Until a gener­ation ago, for example, it was often said that only priests and nuns had vocations. Until just before 1970 everything at Mass, except bringing the cruets to the altar, was done by the priest, and all the people were just’ at Mass’ or were’ getting Mass’ or simply ‘hearing Mass’. All their gifts were simply ignored and the clergy acted as if they not only had all the gifts but that only they had the gifts of the Spirit. Moreover, many people liked it that way: the priests and nuns could do all the religious tasks and they could be left to get on with them, while other people could be Christians with minimal involvement.
6. So this reading prompts a series of questionings: first, each of us must ask what gifts have I for use within this community; second, as a community are we using all these gifts from the variety of all the members of the church for the good of the whole (or are ministries just in the hands of the priest and a little clique that do all the tasks in the community?); and third, to what extent are we still in the old two-class church where vocation and ministry could be dodged by leaving it to ‘the professionals’ (Le. priests and nuns)? These are hard questions, for both priest and communities have to have the courage to be able to change their minds.
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Sean GoanGospel 
The emphasis on Luke in Year C is set aside this week as the beginning of Jesus’ public life is considered from a highly symbolic perspective, the one offered by John in his story of the Wedding Feast of Cana. As we see in the first reading today, weddings are symbolic of the relationship between God and Israel. However, God and Churchthe marriage between God and his people is in trouble and this is indicated by the phrase of Jesus’ mother when she says ‘they have no wine’. Wine is the sign of joy and celebration arid this is what is missing, and all the gallons of water for rites of purification cannot put it right. But this is precisely why Jesus has come – to make the marriage happen, to bring us to union with God. What happens at Cana is a sign that points to the whole meaning of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, a meaning that can only be fully understood after his ‘hour’. As the disciples contemplate the marvellous outpouring (literally!) of God’s love, symbolised by the best wine, they come to believe in him – this is what is asked of us too.

Reflection
god's love for usIt is somewhat ironic that we find ourselves now in Ordinary Time for there is nothing ‘ordinary’ in what is being said of us in today’s readings. On the one hand, the prophet is asking his people to recognise God’s personal and passionate love for them while, on the other, Paul is celebrating the abundance of gifts which this loving God has bestowed on his people. All of this is symbolised in the story of Cana where the wine of God’s joy flows liberally among the guests. The readings all point to the extraordinary dignity which is given to each one of us as a child of God. If only we could truly believe it of ourselves then we might more readily respect it in others.
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Donal Neary S.J.
Gospel reflections

2nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Cana: New wine for life
The human side of the gospel today is the huge need of a young couple on the best day of their lives. Jesus hears of their need and the result is the wine for the wedding, but more so, it is the promise of the fullness of God.
We look for the fullness of life in money, food, sex, travel, security, reputation-none last. Only the simplest joys of life really satisfy in the end, like the joy of love, the thrill of friendship, the caring in family and the ways we enjoy the goodness of creation.
A man asked once in the hospice at the end of his life -‘what is happiness?’ ‘Find happiness now’ was his answer -‘be satisfied, be grateful, for what you have, for what you have received, for what God has given you.’ There is a fullness of life in being happy with who I am, what I have… and asking God for what he knows I need.
No matter what our .age, we can do good for others, we can share the graces of life and the soul can grow. That’s what I hope can happen for me as life goes on. In any group of people, some look happy and some look miserable. The happiest are not always the ones who had or are having the easiest life. They are the ones who have found peace with themselves, others and God.
Jesus the bridge
Because of the gift of the fullness of God in ‘new wine’, we always have a home, here and after – in the heart of our God in Jesus Christ now and for eternity.
Jesus of the wedding feast of Cana, give us the faith and hope to know that you can always make a change for the better in our lives, and the love to live by what we receive.
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THE WORD:
Today’s Gospel is John’s account of Jesus’ first great “sign”: the transformation of water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana.  For the churches of the East, the miracle at Cana is the fourth great event of their celebration of the Lord’s Epiphany or manifestation to the world (the first three: his birth at Bethlehem, the adoration of the magi and his baptism at the Jordan by John).
     
Cana evokes two important Scriptural symbols that point to the Messiahship of Jesus:
   
First, wine in abundance was considered a sign for Israel of the Messianic age to come (one example is Isaiah 54: 5-14, Reading 4 for the Easter Vigil).  The water in the six large stone jars used for the ritual washings mandated by the first covenant law is transformed by Jesus into Messianic wine, prefiguring the new covenant to be sealed in Jesus' blood (which we celebrate in the wine of the Eucharist).
   
Second, the limitless love of God for his people is described throughout Scripture in terms of marriage.  Today's first reading from Isaiah is a beautiful example of this tradition.  It is the strongest (yet still far from perfect) image we have to understand the depth of God's love for his holy people.
   
The evangelist John pulls together these two power Messianic symbols of wine and marriage together to introduce the public ministry of Jesus, the promised Messiah and bridegroom.
   
A final note:  In verse 4 of today's Gospel, Jesus is not as brusque toward his mother as he sounds to us in the English translation of the text.  The address “Woman” was a common courteous form of address in Jesus' time.  We do not have in modern English an equivalent of this idiomatic expression.


HOMILY POINTS:
The love of God is manifested at its most powerful in the love between husband and wife, in marriages that are sacraments, in marriages in which Christ is the always-present Wedding Guest. 
As ministers of the marriage sacrament, husbands and wives, in their love for one another, mirror for all of us the great love of God in our midst.
At Cana, Jesus offers for the first time the “new wine” of Gospel hope and re-creation.  We, too, are called to see our world with eyes of faith in order that we might bring the possibilities of such hope – hope that transforms hurt into reconciliation, despair into confidence, alienation into community.

 
The ‘changing’ of wine
The marriage begins with champagne on the magical evening of the wedding reception.
But over time, the wine changes.
It becomes a much cheaper vintage as spouses struggle to build a home together.  It is replaced by formulas and juice boxes and medicines as they raise their children.  With every milestone, with every crisis, the vintage is patience and forgiveness; with every check written to cover the mortgage, insurance and tuition, selflessness and generosity are the spirits shared in chipped glasses.
The wine tastes sweeter with the grandchildren and the opportunities to help a new family get started. 
The wine becomes increasingly bitter and hard with the visits to the doctor, the long wait for the test results, the necessary changes in lifestyle, the round-the-clock care.  And eventually they sip their last glass together until they find places next to each other at the wedding banquet of heaven.
In marriages where Christ is the always welcomed Wedding Guest, the wine of compassion and understanding, of humble love and generous grace, never runs out.  The wine served at the marriage feast — a feast that continues over many years from the banquet table to the family dinner table to the workbench to the play table to the quiet table for two — is always “new” and richer and sweeter with every glass poured and shared. 

The love of God is manifested at its most powerful in the love between husband and wife: in marriages in which spouses have navigated together life’s hard road of fear, disappointment, heartache and illness; in marriages that are living sacraments of God’s presence in our midst; in marriages in which Christ is the unseen but always-present Wedding Guest.  Throughout Scripture, God speaks of his love for humanity in terms of espousal.  Christ, who performed his first miracle at a wedding, called himself “the Bridegroom” who comes to bring his people to the wedding feast of the Father.  As ministers of the marriage sacrament, husbands and wives, in their love for one another, help all of us to realize the great love of God the Father and Christ his Son, the Bridegroom.  
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Illustrations:

From Fr. Jude Botelho:

The destruction of their city and the temple by the Babylonians shattered the Israelites. They needed encouragement and this came through the prophet Isaiah. When Isaiah wrote his poem, Jerusalem was still in ruins. The city’s plight had come to symbolize that of God’s people: once God’s spouse, she was rejected, divorced, so to speak, a barren widow devoid of children. But her beloved husband, the Lord promises to return to his bride. There will be a New Jerusalem which would prove to the people that God is faithful to his promises. Her shame will be removed and she will be ‘God’s delight’ the ‘wedded one’. God will bring about the change. He will change the water of Jewish religion into true wine.

His presence a blessing
Francis Thomson in his poem ‘The Hound of Heaven’ very beautifully expressed the fear of a soul in possessing God. He wrote that he fled from God. ‘Down the nights and down the days; and the labyrinthine ways…’ and at one point he wrote, ‘For though I knew God’s love who followed, Yet I was sore distressed. Lest having Him, I must have nothing besides.’ – We often have an unexpressed and hidden fear that God’s presence in our lives may become a hindrance or an embarrassment. We have a fear that having God we may have to give up many good things in life. Does God make the world grey with his breath? No! Not at all! Jesus is never an inconvenience. He is never an embarrassment in our lives. His presence is always a blessing.
John Rose in ‘John’s Sunday Homilies’
In today’s gospel we hear of water changing into wine in Cana at the wedding feast. A wedding feast would last for seven days according to Jewish customs. A large number of guests would be invited for the wedding and it was a sacred duty to lavish the guests with hospitality. Any deficiency in the hospitality would be an indelible disgrace. Mary, the mother of Jesus was present at the wedding in Cana. Jesus and his disciples were also present. At the wedding the wine ran short. We do not know the reason for the shortage, but Mary noticed the shortage and decided to do something about it. The wedding party never expected the disgrace of running short of wine. They had no wine, they could be embarrassed, but they had Jesus and Jesus is never an embarrassment to anyone. Mary, as a matter of fact, brings this to the attention of Jesus: “They have no wine.” Jesus’ response appears strange: “Woman why turn to me? My hour has not yet come.” Yet he accedes to her request. He asks the servants to fill the jars with water and after they were filled he asks the servants to draw some out and take it to the steward. Jesus had changed the water not by any incantation or any show but by his sheer will. What God does in nature under a slow process –changing of water into wine in the vineyard, He did it in an instant at the wedding at Cana. One of the signs of the Messianic times according to the Old Testament is an abundance of wine. The changing of water into wine at Cana signified that the Messianic times had arrived. When Jesus changed the water into wine at Cana, there was an abundance of wine –almost 600 liters! When God gives he is not stingy and calculating, he gives in abundance! The wine that Jesus provided was the best wine, not the cheap or ordinary variety that people supply when the guests have plenty to drink. Jesus gives the best and it comes at the end! The best is yet to come in our lives, when we have Jesus with us!

Ongoing miracle
John was always attacking Joe about his religious beliefs and practices. Joe took it all in good spirits. John was really annoyed that his intellectual arguments were getting him nowhere. One day, in desperation, he tackled Joe about Jesus, asking him if he had ever seen one single sign of evidence of Jesus’ presence in his life. He scornfully referred to Cana, and asked Joe about the chances of Jesus turning a glass of water into wine, if Joe asked him. Joe smiled. He himself had been a chronic alcoholic earlier in life before he met John, and John was unaware of that. John simply said: “I don’t want Jesus to turn that water into wine. When I really needed him, I fell on my knees and asked for help, and he turned wine back into water for me. That was miracle enough for me, because it certainly was something I myself could never have done. There was a time when I would have died for wine, and I would have killed for wine, but, thanks to Jesus, all of that hell and misery is completely in the past. The miracle continues, because today, I would prefer one drop of water to a whole barrel of wine!”
Jack McArdle in ‘And that’s the Gospel truth’

The best is yet to be
In a drama written for television entitled Love Among the Ruins, Lawrence Olivier and Katharine Hepburn star as two old friends who were childhood sweethearts forty years ago. Still a single man Lawrence Olivier is now a prominent lawyer near the age of retirement. Katharine Hepburn is now a widow who comes by chance to Olivier’s office for some legal help. Their old romance flares up again, and this time Olivier gets enough courage to ask Hepburn to marry him. To convince her to say ‘yes’ he quotes these verses from Robert Browning’s poetry: “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be. The last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hands.” -This television drama about love and marriage, and about “The best is yet to be,” throws some light on today’s gospel story about the wedding feast at Cana. In his book John: The Different Gospel, Fr. Michael Taylor points out that unlike the other evangelists, John calls Jesus’ work of wonder, signs instead of miracles. John does this because they reveal in a visible way the inner spiritual identity of Jesus. Besides the other symbols in the Cana story, The Old Testament, symbolized by the water, is not being cast aside; it is being transformed by Jesus into something better –the new wine of the New Testament. Indeed, this hour that has finally come is the best that is to be in human history because it is characterized by the abundance and excellence of God’s glory being revealed in Jesus.
Albert Cylwicki in ‘His Word Resounds’

Lady, are you rich?
They huddled inside the storm door -two children in ragged outgrown coats. “Any old papers, lady?” I was busy. I wanted to say no-until I looked down at their feet. Thin little sandals, sopped with sleet. “Come in and I’ll make you a cup of hot cocoa.” There was no conversation. Their soggy sandals left marks upon the hearthstone. I served them cocoa and toast with jam to fortify against the chill outside. Then I went back to the kitchen and started again on my household budget…The silence in the front room struck through to me. I looked in. The girl held the empty cup in her hands, looking at it. The boy asked in a flat voice, “Lady … are you rich?” “Am I rich? Mercy, no!” I looked at my shabby slip covers. The girl put her cup back in its saucer-carefully. “Your cups match your saucers.” Her voice was old, with a hunger that was not of the stomach. They left then, holding their bundles of papers against the wind. They hadn’t said thank you. They didn’t need to. They had done more than that. Plain blue pottery cups and saucers. But they matched. I tested the potatoes and stirred the gravy. Potatoes and brown gravy, a roof over our heads, my man with a good steady job-these things matched, too. I moved the chairs back from the fire and tidied the living room. The muddy prints of small sandals were still wet upon my hearth. I let them be. I want them there in case I ever forget again how very rich I am.
Marion Doolan in ‘Stories for the Heart’Make the miracle happen!At a festival in India, each villager was asked to contribute to the celebrations by pouring a bottle of mahuda (country liquor) into a large barrel. When the festivities began, people began to drink from the barrel and realized that it was only water. One man thought, “If I pour a bottle of water into a large barrel of mahuda, nobody will notice the difference.” He did not think that everybody would have the same thought! – What gift has God given you that you are ready to share with others? If Jesus were to put his barrel before you what gift would you share with him? Surrender all, Then Life will be like Cana wine jars: bubbling and overflowing over!
Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’


Unaware of blessings
There is a story of some people who were travelling on a raft off the coast of Brazil. They were perishing of thirst, for as you know, ocean water is undrinkable. What they did not know, however, was that the water they were floating over was fresh water. A nearby river was coming into the sea with such force that it went out for a couple of miles, so they had fresh water right there where they were. But they had no idea that they were floating on fresh water. “In the same way, we are surrounded with love, joy, and happiness, but we fail to realize it.”
Anthony De Mellow

That’s amazing!
A pilgrim returning from Lourdes tried to smuggle an extra bottle of Vodka through the green channel at the customs, but was stopped. “What is this?” asked the customs officer. “It is just a bottle of holy water,” declared the pilgrim. The customs officer took a good swig from the bottle, then said, “It tastes more like Vodka to me.” “Amazing,” said the pilgrim, “another miracle!” – In the Eucharist, we exchange our old ways and enter into new life, our empty hearts are filled. So, let us try to drink deeply today!
John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’

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Fr Tony Kadavil:

1. A Sense of Awe 
I consider it divine good fortune that we have a scripture lesson so early in the year which encourages us to ponder a miracle. You and I need to become more sensitive to the possibility of miracles. Such a sensitivity will help us recognize present miracles, which we either do not see or which we take for granted; and it will prepare us to receive still more miracles.

Walt Whitman felt that "each part and tag" of his own person was a miracle, and that "a mouse is miracle enough to confound sextillions of infidels." He reminded us that we are surrounded by the glorious and the miraculous and do not know it. Science ought to have increased our sense of awe, as it has unfolded the marvels of the heavens above and mysteries of our bodies within; but we take the attitude that if we know how far it is to a given planet, we have, therefore, encompassed all its significance. We need to know that God is at work in our world. The affairs of this world, and of our individual lives, often seem to be out of control. At such times we can be reassured by the knowledge that God has worked wonderfully in days past, and that he is still at work.

J. Ellsworth Kalas
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2. Soaking Up God's Goodness

A friend of mine is one of the best chefs in the United States (and has been so acclaimed by people who know what they are talking about). The celebrity chefs on Food Network notwithstanding, most chefs tend to be introverts. My friend, too, is certainly a rather shy and retiring person. He'd rather stay in the background than be center stage with a spotlight shining on him. But like most chefs, the one thing that brings my friend joy is seeing others enjoy his food. More than once when eating in his restaurant, I have seen him standing in the shadows near the kitchen, watching people delight in his culinary creations, and beaming in happiness at seeing the diners' enjoyment. Most will never shake hands with my friend. Most will never bother to seek him out to say "Thank You" or send a letter of appreciation to the restaurant at some later point. Nor does my friend stroll through the dining room tacitly and subtly soliciting praise. He's mostly content to look upon people's delight from afar.

I wonder if God is not accustomed to this as well. At Cana, Jesus watched people enjoy an outstanding wine whose origin most people never learned (and maybe would not have believed even had they been told). And if people did not thank him, it was nothing new. As Augustine first observed - and as C.S. Lewis later enjoyed pondering - what Jesus did at Cana (as in many of his miracles) was really no more than a speeded-up version of what he does every year on a thousand hillsides as vines silently turn water into wine. Millions of people enjoy that wine every year without for a moment recognizing the divine origin of it all. It's a reminder that we serve a God whose effusive overflow of providential gifts knows no bounds. It's a reminder that God is also often content to watch people-sometimes even Christian people who should know better-from afar as they soak up the goodness of his creative work. 

Scott Hoezee
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3. Inviting Christ Brings Joy

Why do we bring Christ into the wedding ceremony? Because if we would only bring Christ into our marriages, we would have better marriages! A few years back psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers was quoted as saying that for about half of all American couples, marriage is a "quiet hell." Many other marriages have degenerated into a "tired friendship," as someone put it. I submit to you that this is a tragedy, and in order to prevent such tragedies, we ought to take the traditional marriage ritual seriously and invite Christ to be a guest at our weddings, just as He was invited to the wedding at Cana in Galilee.  

Above all, in this quaint and lovely little story, John is proclaiming the Good News that Jesus Christ is the Life of every party, that he is the one who livens things up, brings life abundant for all, even anonymous brides and bridegrooms in an out-of-the-way peasant village located somewhere (where, we are not sure) in the Galilee. As William Barclay put it in his commentary on this passage: "...whenever Jesus comes into our lives there enters a quality which is like turning water into wine. The trouble with life is that we get bored with it. Pleasure loses its thrill. There is a vague dissatisfaction about everything. But when Jesus enters our lives there comes a new exhilaration!"

Donald B. Strobe
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4. Signs and Hidden Significance 

I returned yesterday from San Antonio, Texas. While I was there I remembered my first visit to Houston when I was a student at seminary. As I was interested in history, I visited the battlefield outside the city. There, at San Jacinto, General Sam Houston defeated the Mexican army and won independence for Texas. The Texans have erected a huge memorial tower -- it looks much like the Hoover Tower at Stanford University -- and with typical Texas modesty placed a sign in front of it that says. "This tower is ten feet taller than the Washington Monument."

That is what signs are for: to tell you something that you would not otherwise know; to manifest a significance that might otherwise be hidden. That is what John means when he says that this miracle was a sign. What it pictured was the normal outcome of the combination of human and divine activity. Men can fill water jars; only God can turn water into wine! Men do the ordinary, the commonplace, the normal activity, but God touches it, and brings it to life and gives it flavor, fragrance and effect. That is the meaning of this sign: it is an indication of what the ministry of Jesus is going to be like whenever he touches a human life, not only during his lifetime on earth, but also through all the running centuries to come, whenever his ministry would be present in the world.

Thus it affects us today as well. Bring God into your situation and all the humdrum, commonplace activities are touched with a new power that makes them fragrant, flavorful, enjoyable and delightful, giving joy and gladness to the heart. That is the meaning of this sign.

Ray C. Stedman, Water to Wine
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5. A Whole New Era

What about the underlying meaning? What did this strange first miracle signify? In a departure from custom, John fails to interpret for us the miraculous "sign," which for him almost always means a symbol, a kind of acted parable. Some commentators see in it a preview of the last Supper, when Jesus transforms not water into wind but wine into blood, his blood shed for all humanity. Maybe. But, I think not. 

I prefer a more whimsical interpretation. Tellingly, John notes that the wine came from huge thirty-gallon jugs that stood full of water at the front of the house, vessels that were used by observant Jews to fulfill the rules on ceremonial washing. Even a wedding feast had to honor the burdensome rituals of cleansing. Jesus, perhaps with a twinkle in his eye, transformed those jugs, ponderous symbols of the old way, into wineskins, harbingers of the new. From purified water of the Pharisees came the choice new wine of a whole new era. The time for ritual cleansing had passed; the time for celebration had begun.

Prophets like John the Baptist preached judgment. Jesus' first miracle, though, was one of tender mercy. The lesson was not lost on the disciples who joined him at the wedding that night in Cana. Don't let it be lost on you! 

Adapted from Phillip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew,
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 6. The Power of Christ  

Nearly one hundred years ago, there was an American inventor named Louis Enricht who announced that he had discovered a cheap additive that would turn ordinary tap water into automotive fuel. At the time World War I was raging in Europe and gasoline was enormously expensive. Enricht claimed that his new additive would bring the per-gallon cost down to a single penny. That certainly got everyone's attention. 

Enricht even gave a demonstration to a crowd of reporters. He had the reporters check that his jug was full of ordinary tap water, then poured in a small amount of greenish liquid, stirred it up, and invited everyone to test this miraculous mixture in their own vehicles. They did and it worked! Enricht's demonstrations were so convincing that even the world-famous automaker Henry Ford offered him millions to buy the rights for his additive. And no wonder. We're still looking for such a cure to our energy ills today. 

Actually, Enricht had merely discovered that if you add a very cheap chemical called acetone to water it will run an engine for a while. Then it will destroy it. But before anyone found that out, Enricht had managed to convince not only Henry Ford, but several other famous American businessmen who should have known better, to give him millions of dollars for his worthless invention.  

Enricht was a scam artist. His invention looked convincing, but ultimately it destroyed the engine it was supposed to power. The power of Christ, on the other hand, took that which was inferior ordinary well water and made it rich and full and delightful.

 Anything Christ touches is going to be improved by that touch. The water was not only going to be transformed to wine. It would be the best wine possible. In this he was but reflecting the nature of God. God is a giving God. The God who has given us a beautiful and a bountiful world does so because that is God's nature. 

Andreas Schroeder

7. “Make sure you invite Jesus and Mary!"   

Johnny Carson (who hosted the Tonight Show for 30 years), was interviewing an eight-year-old boy one night.  The young man was asked to appear on the Late Show because he had rescued two friends from a coal mine outside his hometown in West Virginia.  As Johnny questioned him, it became apparent that the boy was a Christian.   Johnny asked him if he attended Sunday school.  When the boy said he did, Johnny inquired, "What are you learning in Sunday school?"  "Last week,” the boy replied, “our lesson was about how Jesus went to a wedding and turned water into wine." The audience burst into laughter and applause.   Keeping a straight face, Johnny asked, "And what did you learn from that story?"   The boy squirmed in his chair.   It was apparent he hadn't thought about this. But then he lifted up his face and said, "If you're going to have a wedding, make sure you invite Jesus and Mary!"  And that is precisely the message of today’s gospel: make sure you invite Jesus and Mary wherever you live and wherever you go – they are the only ones you'll ever need.   In other words, today's gospel lesson is about the sufficiency of Christ in our lives and the power of His mother’s intercession.
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8. The chicken soup is a sacrament:  

J. D. Salinger’s third book Franny and Zooey (1961), was originally a series of two stories in The New Yorker in 1955 and 1957. There is a scene in the book in which Franny, a 20-year-old theology major, has just come home from college for a long weekend in November 1955. She’s a nervous wreck. Her concerned mother, Bessie Glass, brings her a cup of chicken soup. Franny, unhappy, impatient, depressed, pushes the steaming cup of soup away. Franny’s brother Zooey sees this rejection and is indignant. “I’ll tell you one thing, Franny,” he says. "If it’s theology and religious life you’re studying, you ought to know that you are missing out on every single religious action that’s going on in this house. You don’t have enough sense to drink of cup of consecrated chicken soup, which is the only kind of chicken soup that Mom ever brings to anybody?" What was Franny missing? The kitchen is the church. The mother is a priest. The soup is a sacrament; an external sign of God’s healing grace. The pouring out of the soup is a healing. “Mom’s chicken soup” is “poured out” as a sacrament to soothe the soul, to quash the queasiness of a depressed daughter. That is why we read in today’s gospel that first cup of wine poured out at the Cana wedding and offered to the steward of the banquet, the wedding feast was transformed.
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9. Little Tommy was so impressed by his oldest sister’s wedding that he announced.
 
“I want to have a wedding just like Linda had.” “That sounds great,” said his father. “But whom will you marry?” Tommy announced: “I want to marry grandma because she loves me and I love her.” “You can’t marry grandma,” his father said. “Why not?” Tommy protested. “Because she is my mother.” ”Well,” reasoned Tommy. “Then why did you marry my mother?”
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 10.  A man who had been a husband for ten years was consulting a marriage counselor.
 
“When I was first married I was very happy. When I came home from a hard day at the shop, my little dog would race around barking and my wife would bring me my slippers with a heart warming smile. Now after all these years everything is changed. Now when I come home, my dog brings me my slippers and my wife barks at me.” “I don’t know what you are complaining about,” said the counselor. “You are still getting the same service.”
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11. Two senior ladies met for the first time since graduating from high school.
 
One asked the other, "You were always so organized in school, meticulously planning every detail. How did you plan your married life?" "Well," said her friend, "My first marriage was to a millionaire; my second marriage was to an actor; my third marriage was to a preacher; and now I'm married to an undertaker." Asked the friend, "What do those marriages have to do with a well-planned life?" "The first marriage was for the money, the second for the show, the third to get ready and the fourth to go!"
 *****
Sermons.com: 


The Jews attached great importance to the high moments of life. Thus a wedding was not just a brief ceremony, but an experience shared by the entire community. The typical wedding feast could last up to seven days. That sounds strange to our modern way of thinking, but this offered a bright interlude in an otherwise dreary existence. The ceremony would begin on Tuesday at midnight. After the wedding the father of the bride would take his daughter to every house so that everyone might congratulate her. It was a community experience. Weddings were a time of joy.


Years ago when Johnny Carson was the host of The Tonight Show he interviewed an eight year old boy. The young man was asked to appear because he had rescued two friends in a coalmine outside his hometown in West Virginia. As Johnny questioned the boy, it became apparent to him and the audience that the young man was a Christian. So Johnny asked him if he attended Sunday school. When the boy said he did Johnny inquired, "What are you learning in Sunday school?" "Last week," came his reply, "our lesson was about when Jesus went to a wedding and turned water into wine." The audience roared, but Johnny tried to keep a straight face. Then he said, "And what did you learn from that story?" The boy squirmed in his chair. It was apparent he hadn't thought about this. But then he lifted up his face and said, "If you're going to have a wedding, make sure you invite Jesus!" The little boy was on to something. Weddings are time of Joy. 
At the wedding, which Jesus attended in Cana of Galilee, there was great joy but a problem developed. There was a shortage of wine. Not only was that a social embarrassment, it was also a symbol. For a wedding to run out of wine was an omen that there was little chance of this particular marriage reaching its full potential, maybe joy was not meant for this couple. 
So Mary approaches Jesus and asks him to do something. His response? "Why do you involve me woman?" Sounds harsh, so unlike him, and it has long puzzled biblical scholars...
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I consider it divine good fortune that we have a scripture lesson so early in the year which encourages us to ponder a miracle. You and I need to become more sensitive to the possibility of miracles. Such a sensitivity will help us recognize present miracles, which we either do not see or which we take for granted; and it will prepare us to receive still more miracles. 
Walt Whitman felt that "each part and tag" of his own person was a miracle, and that "a mouse is miracle enough to confound sextillions of infidels." He reminded us that we are surrounded by the glorious and the miraculous and do not know it. Science ought to have increased our sense of awe, as it has unfolded the marvels of the heavens above and mysteries of our bodies within; but we take the attitude that if we know how far it is to a given planet, we have, therefore, encompassed all its significance. We need to know that God is at work in our world. The affairs of this world, and of our individual lives, often seem to be out of control. At such times we can be reassured by the knowledge that God has worked wonderfully in days past, and that he is still at work. 
So I direct our attention today to a story from the Gospel of John, generally referred to as Jesus' first miracle. I am impressed that this miracle came to pass, not in the confines of a place of worship, nor even in a uniquely religions occasion; but where people were celebrating one of the happy social events of our common life -- a wedding... 
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Soaking Up God's Goodness 
A friend of mine is one of the best chefs in the United States (and has been so acclaimed by people who know what they are talking about). The celebrity chefs on Food Network notwithstanding, most chefs tend to be introverts. My friend, too, is certainly a rather shy and retiring person. He'd rather stay in the background than be center stage with a spotlight shining on him. But like most chefs, the one thing that brings my friend joy is seeing others enjoy his food. More than once when eating in his restaurant, I have seen him standing in the shadows near the kitchen, watching people delight in his culinary creations, and beaming in happiness at seeing the diners' enjoyment. Most will never shake hands with my friend. Most will never bother to seek him out to say "Thank You" or send a letter of appreciation to the restaurant at some later point. Nor does my friend stroll through the dining room tacitly and subtly soliciting praise. He's mostly content to look upon people's delight from afar.
I wonder if God is not accustomed to this as well. At Cana, Jesus watched people enjoy an outstanding wine whose origin most people never learned (and maybe would not have believed even had they been told). And if people did not thank him, it was nothing new. As Augustine first observed-and as C.S. Lewis later enjoyed pondering-what Jesus did at Cana (as in many of his miracles) was really no more than a speeded-up version of what he does every year on a thousand hillsides as vines silently turn water into wine. Millions of people enjoy that wine every year without for a moment recognizing the divine origin of it all. It's a reminder that we serve a God whose effusive overflow of providential gifts knows no bounds. It's a reminder that God is also often content to watch people-sometimes even Christian people who should know better-from afar as they soak up the goodness of his creative work.
Scott Hoezee, Comments and Observations on John 2:1-11.
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What Are You Going to Do When the Wine Runs Out? 
The Nobel Prize author Earnest Hemmingway, well known for his book "The Old Man and The Sea," was a person who went for it all. A newspaper reporter, ambulance driver during WWII, involved in the Spanish Civil War, friend to bullfighters as well as authors--he did it all. And, when he did it he did it to the fullest. In a manner of speaking he enjoyed the wine of life. But there came a day when the wine ran out.
Carlos Baker records it in his biography of Hemmingway in this way: Sunday morning dawned bright and cloudless. Ernest awoke early as always. He put on the red "Emperor's robe" and padded softly down the padded stairway. The early sunlight lay in pools on the living room floor. He had noticed that the guns were locked up in the basement, but the keys, as he well knew, were on the window ledge above the kitchen sink. He tiptoed down the basement stairs and unlocked the storage room. It smelled as dank as a grave. He chose a double barreled shotgun with a tight choke. He had used it for years to shoot pigeon's. He took some shells from one of the boxes in the storage room, closed and locked the door, and climbed the basement stairs. If he saw the bright day outside, it did not deter him. He crossed the living room to the front foyer, a shrine-like entryway five feet by seven feet, with oak-paneled walls and a floor of linoleum tile. He slipped in two shells, lowered the gun butt carefully to the floor, leaned forward, pressed the twin barrels against his forehead just about the eyebrows and tripped both triggers. 
What are you going to do when the wine runs out?
Brett Blair, www.Sermons.com.
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Care for Your Relationships 
There was an article in Reader's Digest recently by a man named Patrick Cooney titled, "Why I Wear Two Wedding Bands." Cooney says that he has worn two wedding bands for more than a dozen years. When he's asked about them, he responds, "I have two wives." He's kidding, of course.
One day a stranger would not let him off with this glib answer about why he wears two bands. So Cooney spilled the whole story. He explained his father died in 1999. As they were saying their final farewells at his funeral, his mother, who had been married to his father for 50-plus years, removed his father's wedding band and handed it to Patrick. Surprised, he placed the gold band on his left middle finger, next to his wedding band. There it has remained. He told the stranger that he wears his father's wedding band to honor his father and his parents' marriage. He also wears it to remind himself to be the son, brother, husband, and dad that his father wanted him to be. He is now 60 years old and has been married for 30 years. The stranger walked away, then turned back and said, "Sir, you know, I have my father's wedding band in my sock drawer at home, and beginning today, I am going to start wearing it."  
 
Powerful story. But isn't it true of all our relationships? It's important not only to be faithful and attentive to our spouse, but to our children or our parents and our friends. I can tell you right now, without any hesitation at all that it is God's will for us to take care of our relationships.
Adapted by King Duncan, www.Sermons.com
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Inviting Christ Brings Joy 
Why do we bring Christ into the wedding ceremony? Because if we would only bring Christ into our marriages, we would have better marriages! A few years back psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers was quoted as saying that for about half of all American couples, marriage is a "quiet hell." Many other marriages have degenerated into a "tired friendship," as someone put it. I submit to you that this is a tragedy, and in order to prevent such tragedies, we ought to take the traditional marriage ritual seriously and invite Christ to be a guest at our weddings, just as He was invited to the wedding at Cana in Galilee.  
Above all, in this quaint and lovely little story, John is proclaiming the Good News that Jesus Christ is the Life of every party, that he is the one who livens things up, brings life abundant for all, even anonymous brides and bridegrooms in an out-of-the-way peasant village located somewhere (where, we are not sure) in the Galilee. As William Barclay put it in his commentary on this passage: "...whenever Jesus comes into our lives there enters a quality which is like turning water into wine. The trouble with life is that we get bored with it. Pleasure loses its thrill. There is a vague dissatisfaction about everything. But when Jesus enters our lives there comes a new exhilaration!"  
Donald B. Strobe, Collected Words, www.Sermons.com
______________________
Signs and Hidden Significance 
I returned yesterday from San Antonio, Texas. While I was there I remembered my first visit to Houston when I was a student at seminary. As I was interested in history, I visited the battlefield outside the city. There, at San Jacinto, General Sam Houston defeated the Mexican army and won independence for Texas. The Texans have erected a huge memorial tower -- it looks much like the Hoover Tower at Stanford University -- and with typical Texas modesty placed a sign in front of it that says. "This tower is ten feet taller than the Washington Monument."  
That is what signs are for: to tell you something that you would not otherwise know; to manifest a significance that might otherwise be hidden. That is what John means when he says that this miracle was a sign. What it pictured was the normal outcome of the combination of human and divine activity. Men can fill water jars; only God can turn water into wine! Men do the ordinary, the commonplace, the normal activity, but God touches it, and brings it to life and gives it flavor, fragrance and effect. That is the meaning of this sign: it is an indication of what the ministry of Jesus is going to be like whenever he touches a human life, not only during his lifetime on earth, but also through all the running centuries to come, whenever his ministry would be present in the world.
Thus it affects us today as well. Bring God into your situation and all the humdrum, commonplace activities are touched with a new power that makes them fragrant, flavorful, enjoyable and delightful, giving joy and gladness to the heart. That is the meaning of this sign.  
Ray C. Stedman, Water to Wine
___________________________
A Whole New Era 
What about the underlying meaning? What did this strange first miracle signify? In a departure from custom, John fails to interpret for us the miraculous "sign," which for him almost always means a symbol, a kind of acted parable. Some commentators see in it a preview of the last Supper, when Jesus transforms not water into wind but wine into blood, his blood shed for all humanity. Maybe. But, I think not.
I prefer a more whimsical interpretation. Tellingly, John notes that the wine came from huge thirty-gallon jugs that stood full of water at the front of the house, vessels that were used by observant Jews to fulfill the rules on ceremonial washing. Even a wedding feast had to honor the burdensome rituals of cleansing. Jesus, perhaps with a twinkle in his eye, transformed those jugs, ponderous symbols of the old way, into wineskins, harbingers of the new. From purified water of the Pharisees came the choice new wine of a whole new era. The time for ritual cleansing had passed; the time for celebration had begun. 
Prophets like John the Baptist preached judgment. Jesus' first miracle, though, was one of tender mercy. The lesson was not lost on the disciples who joined him at the wedding that night in Cana. Don't let it be lost on you! 
Adapted from Phillip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew, Grand Rapids: Zondervan 1995, p. 168.
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Humor: Miracles 
There is a time-honored story about a skeptic who was continually harassing the local pastor. His one delight in life seemed to be making the pastor appear inadequate intellectually. The pastor bore these challenges to his theology and faith with great restraint.  
One day the skeptic was heckling the pastor about his views on miracles. "Give me one concrete example of a miracle," the skeptic taunted. "One concrete example." Whereupon the pastor hauled off and kicked the skeptic furiously on the shin.
 The skeptic couldn't believe it!
The pastor asked, "Did you feel that?"
"Yes," the man said as he nursed his sore leg.
"If you had not," said the pastor, "it would have been a miracle!" 
King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
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Is Vodka Allowed? 
There is a legend which states that in the late middle ages, the Russian Czar had come to the conclusion that in order to unite his country, there would have to be one state religion to which everyone should belong.
He considered carefully all of his options. Finally, he settled on a short list of three, Islam, Buddhism or Christianity. He called representatives from each of the three religions to his court in Russia, and asked them each to state the case for their religion before himself and his advisors. 
The Muslim representative spoke first. He spoke of the humaneness of Islam, of its tolerance for others, its respect for science and culture, and how it came with a complete legal system that had been refined and perfected through the centuries. When he had finished his pitch, he asked the Czar if there were anything else he would like to know. "One thing," the Czar told him, "Does Allah look favorably upon Vodka?"
The Muslim emissary shook his head and told him no, that alcohol was an abomination to Allah, and was not permitted. 
"Next!" cried the Czar, and the Buddhist missionary was ushered in. The Buddhist monk explained the basic teachings of the Buddha, how all of life was suffering and how the Buddha showed the way to end suffering. Finally the King was getting bored and said, "I'll tell you how I stop suffering. Vodka! What does your Buddha have to say about that?"
The Buddhist monk told him that intoxicants were a hindrance to enlightenment, and were not permitted in Buddhism. 
"Next!" cried the Czar, and a Christian Orthodox monk was ushered in. But before he could even begin teaching his elementary catechism, the Czar stopped him short. "Just tell me one thing, does your Jesus allow vodka?"
"Are you kidding?" the monk said, "We will give you wine and bread at every service of worship."
"Now I know what I am!" proclaimed the Czar, "I am a Christian! Baptize me, and all of my people." We can imagine that he also ordered them to break out the vodka in celebration. 
 
Now, many people use this story of Jesus turning the water into wine as a way of showing that Jesus didn't have anything against alcohol. While this is true it's the wrong emphases to place on the story. Look at verse 11. The miracle was a sign to reveal Christ's glory. It was a way to help his disciples understand who he was that they might put their faith in him.