John 2:1
The full opening verse of the Gospel reads: “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee…”
Why the third day? To understand that, we have to drop back very beginning of John’s gospel. John’s gospel starts with the same phrase that the book of Genesis starts with: “in the beginning”. Then, through the first chapter of John, we hear of four days passing in which we hear the story of John the Baptist, and the call of the first apostles.
Then we face three days later, making it seven days into the story of John’s gospel. The book of Genesis faces six days of creation, and then God rested on the seventh day.
Here in John’s gospel, however, the seventh day is a wedding feast. This is not accidental. The book of Revelation speaks about the great wedding feast of the Lamb. And, John wrote the book of Revelation as well.
So, in effect, John is announcing the re-creation of humanity in terms of the sacred wedding between God and all of us. God’s initial creation, based on the completion of the seven days, is a covenant bond between God and us, in the persons of Adam and Eve. But they broke the covenant bond, and we have been suffering from that ever since.
Now, because of Jesus, this covenant is made new – in fact, we call it the New Covenant. It is the covenant sealed by the blood of Jesus, which we receive in the form of wine. And Jesus transformed the water into wine on this third day.
He does this at the request of his mother. And Jesus refers to his mother as “woman,” which is the way Eve was referred to in the Book of Genesis.
Do you see how all this folds in on the single idea that God wants a covenant bond of marriage with humanity? The relationship of marriage, and parenthood, reveal the most intimate and complete forms of love that we as human beings can understand. And this is what God has given to us!
So, what then are we to do? God wants us to understand that he desires a love affair with us. And no ordinary love affair. But an affair of love that is stronger than any marriage, more protective than any parent, and more filled with joy in this life and in the life to come than we can possibly imagine.
As an aside, I must also say that joy in this life does not mean there will not be trials, but it does mean that we will have the confidence of God’s presence with us.
So this joy is a virtue that God gives us that transcends the grave. It is part of what will remain with us for all eternity. So we need to pursue joy – not happiness, such as is often the giddiness of too much wine, or some other such worldly pursuits.
No, joy greatly surpasses any of the happiness of this world. Saint Ignatius of Loyola found this in his own work as he read the lives of the saints. It is this pursuit of a life of faith that brings us genuine, virtuous joy.
Yes, some joy is in each worldly happiness, but too many people are pursuing only happiness in these days without recognizing the power of joy. I believe this is what Jesus showed his disciples. I believe it is what he showed to the wedding guests. I believe it is what he offers to us today.
Lord Jesus, you transformed water into wine for the happiness of the wedding guests. Transform our lives from the simplicity of water to the splendor of wine; from seeking only this world to seeking only your kingdom; from grasping at the straws of this life to grasping you the author of life.
Transform our hearts to receive all the virtues that you have for us to live. Help us to live, especially in your joy while we are here on earth, that we may one day enjoy all you have to offer at your wedding feast. When the wine will not run dry, and the joy will not be only for a while.
Help us to look forward to the promises you revealed at Cana, and that you continue to reveal to our hearts of what heaven will be like. Keep us faithful to seeking for you now, that we will be with you forever. Amen.