Gospel: John 2:1-11
1On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
The gospel story for today is a wedding story. It is a Jewish wedding. Jewish weddings during the time of Christ were gala occasions, festive events, and grand parties. Jewish weddings usually began on Tuesday nights, and the groom and his friends would go over to the bride’s house at night. On the way over, the groomsmen would be swinging their olive-oil lamps, having a fun time. The men would gather in front of the bride’s home, and she would come out to the front steps. Now, for the first time in her adult life, she would take off her veil and show off her beautiful face. This removal of the veil was a special event. Then, the groom and the groomsmen, would again walk down the streets with their olive-oil lamps swinging and they would go over to the groom’s house to begin a seven-day party. Yes, a seven-day party. During those seven days, family and friends would bring their gifts, their hot dishes, and their good humor. They would party for seven days.
Seven days? As a one-time Father of the Bride, I can only imagine what the bill would be for a seven-day wedding! My mantra for the wedding planning time was the statement, “It costs how much?”
Someone once said paying for a wedding celebration is like buying a new car and driving it off a cliff after one day.
Okay, enough ranting about wedding costs.
Jesus attends a wedding. His mom is there too. And during the event, an embarrassing situation arises. The reception wine has run out!
Colleague David Lose writes these words on this passage:
Well, you know the rest of the story. Jesus instructs the servants to fill six large stone basins with water and to draw some of that water, now turned to wine, and take it to the steward. And once again timing is an issue. Most hosts, you see, serve the best wine up front, wanting to make a good impression, and save the cheap wine for later, when the palettes of the guests have been, shall we say, sufficiently dulled so as to not recognize the drop in quality. But this host, the steward assumes, has bucked the traditional timing and saved the best wine for last. And suddenly this couple has six huge basins – 180 gallons – of fantastic wine, more than enough for even three more days. No one, that is, could now leave this wedding thirsty, for abundance and blessing overflowed.
Timing is everything, and not just in this scene but across John’s Gospel. In fact, there are two kinds of time that animate John’s imagination. One is the kind of time with which we count and track the everyday events of our lives. It is the time that is measured in minutes and seconds, hours and days. It is the time we spend standing in lines, or clocking in at work, or waiting at the stoplight. It is mundane, ordinary time and it beats on relentlessly until that time when we close our eyes and escape it’s dull, predictable cadence.
But there is another kind of time at play, as well, a royal kind of time, where all that is predictable fades and what emerges in its place is sheer possibility. This is God’s time, and it punctures through the ordinary canvas and clock of our lives at unexpected intervals to reveal a glimpse of the divine. So when Jesus speaks of his “hour” he isn’t speaking of a time and date on his calendar, he’s talking about the time when God will reveal his glory through his cross, resurrection, and ascension, the time when God will be accessible to all, once and for all.
That time, that hour, Jesus says, has not yet come.
Or has it? Once again, pay attention to Mary, who seems to know what time it is better than we might expect. For Mary seems not only to believe that Jesus can do something about this disastrous loss of blessing, but expects him to. And the Fourth Evangelist would seem to agree. After all, it’s the third day of the wedding, John says, wanting to grab our attention. And in response, careful readers throughout history have asked, “Wait a minute? Did you just say it was the third day? As in ‘after the third day he was raised from the dead?” That’s right. Because whenever there is need and Jesus is on the scene, resurrection and abundance are right around the corner.
God is a God of abundance. There is always more than enough. More than enough grace, love, forgiveness and hope.
May we rejoice in God’s abundance, and be generous in our giving back to God what God has first given us!
Let us pray. God of abundance, we thank you for your blessings that overflow. Open our hearts to receive and to share what you give. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen