2 Sunday C - Wedding at Cana


Gospel reading: John 2:1-11 
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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 characterises 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, selfcentered, 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.

Cana A2.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.

3. 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

Cross and resurrectionLord, we thank you for times when, by a movement of grace,
we enter into a new level of commitment:
– 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.

church unityIn 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,
our 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 diocese 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.
in our hands“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. Therefore/ 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

Jesus begins1. 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.
2. 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’?
Jesus and wine Cana3. 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.
4. 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 makehe church and builds the kingdom.
lay ministeries5. However, s twhile 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 Goan

Gospel 
God and ChurchThe 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, the 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
It 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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god's love for usDonal Neary S.J.
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.
Jesus the bridgeNo 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.
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. 


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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
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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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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.
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From Fr. Tony Kadavil's Collection:


1: Transformation at the hand of Christ: It is said that the writer Leo Tolstoy experienced that kind of transformation. He told about it in a book titled, My Conversion. Tolstoy wrote, “[When] Faith came to me; I believed in Jesus Christ, and all my life suddenly changed. I ceased to desire that which previously I had desired, and on the other hand, I took to desiring what I had never desired before. That which formerly used to appear good in my eyes appeared evil and that which used to appear evil appeared good.” Before his conversion, Tolstoy had acquired fame and fortune through his great writings. But he was unsatisfied. “I fought duels,” he wrote. “I gambled, I wasted my substance wrung from the sweat of peasants and deceived men. Lying, robbery, adultery of all kinds, drunkenness was my life.” His conversion, one of the most dramatic of modern times, gave his life a new purpose, a new meaning and, he affirmed, an abiding satisfaction. [William E. Thorn, Catch the Little Foxes That Spoil the Vine (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1980).] All of us remember the story of the old alcoholic who ended his addiction. When asked about Jesus’ miracle of turning the water into wine replied, “I don’t know about that, but I do know that in my house Jesus changed whiskey into furniture.” Many millions of people over the centuries have experienced that kind of transformation at the hand of Christ. The miracle of Cana gives us that lesson

# 2: “I have two wives: 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 rings 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 rings. 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 ring and handed it to Patrick. Surprised, he placed the gold ring on his left middle finger, next to his wedding ring. There it has remained. He told the stranger that he wears his father’s wedding ring 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 ring 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. Jesus demonstrated it honoring his mother’s wish and saving the family reputation of the bridegroom at Cana. (Adapted Rev. by King Duncan in www.Sermons.com and quoted by Fr. Kayala).

# 3: “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.
Joke of the Week:
1) 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?”
2) Whisky: A Congressman was once asked about his attitude toward whiskey. “If you mean the demon drink that poisons the mind, pollutes the body, desecrates family life, and inflames sinners, then I’m against it.  But, if you mean the elixir of Christmas cheer, the shield against
winter chill, the taxable potion that puts needed funds into public coffers to comfort little crippled children, then I’m for it. This is my position, and I will not compromise.”
3) The same service? 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.”
4) Countdown! One woman 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!”
 

18- Additional anecdotes: 

1) 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 when the first cup of wine was poured out at the Cana wedding and offered to the steward of the banquet, the wedding feast was transformed.

2) What happens when you run short of wine in your family life? Three men were sitting together bragging about how they had given duties to their new wives when the week-long honeymoon was over. The first man had married a [Baptist] woman and had told her that she was going to do the dishes and housecleaning. It took a couple days, but on the third day he came home to a clean house and dishes washed and put away. The second man had married a [Presbyterian] woman. He had given his wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, dishes, and the cooking. The first day he didn’t see any results, but the next day he saw it was better. By the third day, he saw his house was clean, the dishes were done, and there was a huge dinner on the table. The third man had married a [a Catholic] woman, a black belt holder in karate. He told her in a commanding voice that her duties were to keep the house cleaned, dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed and hot meals on the table for every meal. He said the first day he didn’t see anything, the second day he didn’t see anything, but by the third day some of the swelling had gone down from below his eyes which received karate punches from his new wife and he could see a little out of his left eye, enough to fix himself a bite to eat and load the dishwasher. We laugh to keep from crying, don’t we? (http://kentcan.xanga.com/376404947/item/). The moral: We need Jesus’ presence in the family for its smooth running.
 

3) The Touch of the Master’s Hand:” I suppose at one time or another we have all heard Myra Brooks Welch’s poem “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.” She was called “The poet with the singing soul.” The poem goes, “’Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer thought it scarcely worth his while / to waste much time on the old violin, but held it up with a smile; / “What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried, “Who’ll start the bidding for me?” / “A dollar, a dollar; then two!” “Only two? Two dollars, and who’ll make it three? / Three dollars, once; three dollars twice; going for three.” But no, / from the room, far back, a gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow; / Then, wiping the dust from the old violin, and tightening the loose strings, / he played a melody pure and sweet as a caroling angel sings. / The music ceased, and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low,/said; “What am I bid for the old violin?” And he held it up with the bow. /A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two? Two thousand! And who’ll make it three? / Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice, and going and gone,” said he. / The people cheered, but some of them cried, “We do not quite understand. /What changed its worth?” Swift came the reply: “The touch of a master’s hand.” /And many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin, / is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the old violin. / A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine; a game – and he travels on. / “He is going” once, and “going” twice, He’s going and almost gone.” / But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd never can quite understand / the worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought by the touch of the Master’s hand.“ Jesus touches the wedding and lifts it, not just with the miracle but also by his presence. He takes this ordinary wedding, and he transforms into that which is extraordinary. He takes a fisherman by the name of Peter and transforms him into the great preacher of Christendom.

4) Powerful Guest: Some time ago a woman wrote a fascinating article about redecorating her family home. Things went well until her husband overruled the interior decorator and hung a 16-by 20 inch picture of Jesus in the most prominent place in the house. She tried to get her husband to reconsider, but he absolutely refused. Then during a discussion with him, she recalled those words of Jesus: “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my Heavenly Father.” That settled it. Her husband won. Now she says she is glad her husband won, because she thinks that picture of Jesus had a remarkable effect on her family and on visitors. The picture’s most striking impact is on conversations, says the woman. It inevitably draws them to a higher level. The woman ends her article by saying she knows people will smile at her remarks and even ridicule them, but she doesn’t care. “This much I know,” she says. “When you invite Jesus into your home, you’re never the same again.” It is the message of the miracle of Cana. (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies).

5) “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’ works of wonder signs instead of miracles. John does this because they reveal in a visible way the inner spiritual identity of Jesus. Further, the other symbol 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).

6) His presence a blessing: Francis Thomson in his poem “The Hound of Heaven” very beautifully expressed the fear of a soul challenged to yield to God. He writes that he fled from God. “Down the nights and down the days; and the labyrinthine ways of my own mind…” and at one point he writes, “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).

7) And “they lived happily ever after”: In The Odyssey, Homer (ca. 850 BC) wove an epic poem of 24 books around the wanderings and adventures of the mythic Odysseus, King of Ithaka. With his ships scuttled and lost at sea after the Trojan War, Odysseus angered the sea-god, Poseidon, who blocked his every attempt to return to Ithaka, forcing him to roam the earth. While he encountered and coped with one calamity after another, his faithful wife Penelope remained in Ithaka awaiting his return. Years passed with no word from Odysseus.  At last, Telemachus, their only son, had grown to manhood. Suitors, wishing to take for themselves Odysseus’ wealth and kingdom had been seeking Penelope’s hand in marriage. In an effort to fend them off, Penelope promised that she would choose one of them after she had finished weaving a shroud for her father-in-law. Still hoping for her husband’s return, Penelope stalled for time by secretly unraveling each day’s weaving during that evening. Eventually, but only after years of suffering and separation, the loving couple was reunited. Current statistics in western countries give us the impression that “happily ever after” endings now exist only in the world of myth. In the book The Moral Compass, William J. Bennett says, “In recent history, marriage has devolved from being a Sacrament to a contract to a convention to, finally, a convenience, and the wedding vow changed from ‘as long as we both shall live’ to ‘as long as we both shall love.’” Today’s Gospel teaches us that if Jesus and Mary are invited into the marriage and are permanently, honorably retained in the family, they will help us solve the tough problems of our family life. (Patricia Datchuck S├ínchez)
8) “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 them 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 slipcovers. 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). May we discover how rich we are because we have invited Jesus into our lives!
9) When wine runs out: Carlos Baker records it in his biography of Hemingway 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 carpeted 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 if for years to shoot pigeons. 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. It happens in our own lives. The wine runs out. We become strangers to our selves and we have nowhere to go.
10) An additional set of vows : Larry Davies in his book, Sowing Seeds of Faith in a World Gone Bonkers, tells about a wedding he performed once on a wooden boat dock over a beautiful pond in Amelia county, Virginia. To his surprise, on the night before the wedding the bride (we’ll call her Pamela) called to ask him to read a special set of marriage vows to her new husband after the formal ceremony was through. She would give him a copy of the vows just before the service started. The next morning, the groom (we’ll call him Paul) also pulled Davies aside and handed him a set of vows to be read to his new wife. This was going to be interesting. The people were in place and the simple ceremony began without a hitch. Then, after the formal ceremony was over and as he was instructed, Pastor Davies pulled out the additional set of vows written by the bride for her new husband. “Paul,” the vows began,
“. . . do you agree to cook steak and potatoes on Friday?
“. . . do you agree to cut the grass and take out the trash?
“. . . do you agree to keep the truck and the car clean?
“. . . do you agree to have my coffee ready when I awake?
“. . . do you agree to take me shopping once a week without complaining?”
Davies’ next instructions were to have the bride take the groom by the hand, look into his eyes and repeat the vows the groom had written for her: “I, Pamela, agree to lovingly serve you breakfast in bed every Saturday morning and to learn how to bake homemade pies and cobblers. I will also never insist that you go shopping with me for more than one hour at a time.” Afterwards, Davies commented: “They don’t need a minister. They need a lawyer to work out this agreement.” A proper ending, he decided would have been for him to push both the bride and the groom in the pond and declare them both insane, but he resisted the impulse. Then, as he had a chance to reflect on this unusual ceremony, he decided he admired a couple who could laugh in the midst of such a serious commitment. “If they can hold on to this ability to joke and poke fun at each other, there is hope for the survival of their marriage,” he wrote. “Maybe this same lesson can apply to each of us.” (Amelia Court House, VA: ABM Enterprises, Inc., 1996, pp. 75-76)
11) “It would have been a miracle.” There’s an old story about a skeptic who continually harassed the local pastor. His one delight in life seemed to be making the pastor appear inadequate intellectually. The pastor bore those 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.” This pastor hauled off and kicked the skeptic in the shin as hard as he could. The skeptic couldn’t believe it! “What did you do that for?” The pastor asked, “Did you feel that?” “Yes,” the man said as he nursed his sore leg. “Well, if you hadn’t,” said the pastor, “it would have been a miracle!” I’m not sure that was the best way to explain miracles, but there have been times when I’ve wanted to explain things that way. Today we look at the very first miracle performed by Jesus as recorded in John’s Gospel.
12) Love isn’t love till……Quite a while ago, there was a famous singer named Mary Martin who, on one occasion, was to perform in the popular musical, South Pacific. Moments before the show, she was given a note from the composer, Oscar Hammerstein himself, who was on his deathbed. This is what it said: “Dear Mary, A bell is no bell till you ring it, A song’s not a song till you sing it. Love in your heart is not put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away.” Inspired by these words, Mary Martin went on to give one of her finest performances. After the curtain call, all the other actors and actresses warmly congratulated her, saying, “Mary, your performance is always very good. But today it was just extraordinary.” Bringing out Oscar Hammerstein’s note, Mary confessed that it was the inspiring words of the famous composer that made all the difference: “A bell is no bell till you ring it. A song’s not a song till you sing it. The love in your heart is not put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away.” -All this is clearly shown in the miracle at the wedding feast at Cana. Somebody had inadvertently failed to provide an adequate supply of wine for the week-long celebration. And just one person noticed -Mary. Something had to be done urgently, and only Mary knew the only One who could do it. Like her, Jesus, too, was concerned about the happiness of the couple and their reputation and he promptly and marvelously worked his first public miracle. That was a touching and notable demonstration of true love, both by Mary and Jesus. (James Valladares in “Your Words O Lord, are Spirit and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
13) Love: What it is: In a scene of the stage play and movie, Fiddle on the Roof, the hero Tevye on one occasion keeps nagging his wife Golda, asking her whether she loves him or not. He keeps pestering her to say she does…. But she is in no romantic mood and brushes him off, until finally she turns to him and says, “Look at this man…. Look at you….. I am your wife, I cook your meals, wash your clothes, milk the cows, raise half a dozen daughters for you, my bed is yours, everything I have and am, I share with you – and after all that, you want to know whether I love you? Oh, well… I guess I do…..” Most grown-up people, religious included, don’t go telling people they love them…. even if Jesus tells us we have to love one another. But they do express this love by what they do for those people around them every day. (Frank Michalic in Tonic for the Heart; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Let’s invite Jesus into the ordinary events of daily life; he can make them new!
14) ‘What hast thou to give me?”. Rabindranath Tagore describes the reward for total surrender in Gitanjali. The beggar went from door to door on the village path. Then he saw the golden chariot of the king in distance. His hopes rose high and he thought his evil days were at an end, and he stood waiting for alms. The chariot stopped where he stood. The king came with down from the chariot with a smile. The beggar felt that the luck of his life had come at last. Then suddenly the king held out his right hand and asked, ‘What hast thou to give me?”. The beggar was confused and then from his wallet he slowly took out the least little grain of corn and gave it to him. At day’s end he emptied the bag on the floor he found a little grain of gold among the heap. He regretted that he had not given the whole thing to the King. Dear friends whatever is submitted to God is turned into something precious. The insignificant city, Cana, the stone jars, the insignificant people at Cana all became significant with the presence of Jesus. “The only condition is to fill them to the brim”- total and unconditional submission without any reservation. (Fr. Bobby).
15) “Where did you get that much money?” : Mother Teresa of Calcutta told this story: “A few weeks ago two young people came to our house and gave me a quite sum of money to feed the poor. In Calcutta, we cook for 9,000 people every day. The two of them wished their money to be used to feed these hungry people, I then asked them, ‘Where did you get that much money?’ They answered, ‘Two days ago we were married. Before our wedding, we decided that we would not spend any money on special wedding clothes nor would we have a wedding banquet. We wanted the money we would spend on these things to go to the poor.’” For high caste Hindus, to act like this was a scandal. Their friends and relatives found it unthinkable that a couple from such outstanding families should get married without bridal gowns and a proper wedding feast. So Mother Theresa asked them, “Why did you give all this money?” They gave her this surprising answer: “We love one another so much that we wanted to make a special sacrifice for each other at the very start of our married life.” In today’s Gospel Jesus works his first miracle to save a marriage. (Fr. Benitz).
16) Logic: The popular belief that “Jesus was not a teetotaler,” but a moderate drinker of fermented wine who even “miraculously ‘manufactured’ a high-quality (alcoholic) wine at Cana” and instituted the Last Supper with alcoholic wine, has no doubt influenced the drinking habits of millions of Christians around the world more than anything else that the Bible says about drinking. The reason is simple. The example and teachings of Christ are normative for Christian belief and practice. If Christ made, commended and used fermented wine, then there can hardly be anything intrinsically wrong with a moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages! Simply stated, “If wine was good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for me!”

17) 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, he was involved in the Spanish Civil War, became ambulance driver during WWII, was a 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 carpeted 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) quoted by Fr. Kayala.

18) 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 Eucharistic celebration.” “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. (Fr. Kayala).