The Gospel story today is that of Christ’s first public display of power, at a wedding party in Cana. Like all Gospel stories it has many layers of meaning and depth.
It is a peculiar kind of story in some ways. The problem, the human need that invited this first miracle, really wasn’t anything all that earth-shaking. The party goers had run out of wine, hardly the stuff of tragedy.
We are told that Mary went to Christ and told him simply, “They have no wine”. Did she expect a miracle? More probably she just simply knew that somehow he would make it right. In any case, Mary was the first one in the Gospel to bring human needs to Christ and ask him to do something about it.
So, she went to the waiters and told them to do whatever Christ said, and what he told them to do was to gather up whatever they had, even if it was only water, and bring it to him. When they did, he changed what they had, he made it better. It became wine, and better wine than they had expected.
The evangelist John uses this passage as a symbolic representation of the use of power throughout the whole of Christ’s life. He uses this first and simplest display as a foreshadowing of Christ’s last and greatest display of power, his death and resurrection. The Gospel speaks of the coming of Christ’s hour, a phrase that is repeated throughout the Gospel, and finally at Christ’s trial before Pilate and Herod.
The partygoers, who have run out of wine and must turn to Christ if the party is to continue, are an image of humankind, who has run out of everything and must turn to Christ if anything is to continue.
It works. If a destitute people do turn to Christ, if they bring with them everything that they have, even if it is not much, even if it is only water, he will change it, make it better. He makes it possible to go on, stronger and better than before. But that will only happen if we bring it to him. If we let the water of our lives stay sitting in a jar somewhere over in the corner, while we moan and groan over the fact that we haven’t got any wine, then it will stay just that – water.
But if we draw it out, if we bring it to Christ, even if, like Mary, we really don’t know just what he is going to do about it; if we follow her advice to the waitress, “just do as he tells you”, then our lives will be changed. Christ’s changing, renewing power can fill the gaps in our lives. It can give to those lives a richness, a value we may never have thought possible. All we need to do is bring it to him.