For this week’s homily please watch the video below.
After his Baptism in the Jordan River Jesus began his ministry in Galilee. The four gospels offer three different places where Jesus began his ministry. Matthew and Mark say it was in Capernaum, a town along the Sea of Galilee where Jesus performed a series of outstanding miracles.Mark’s Gospel emphasizes the miracles he worked there, Mathew his preaching.
Luke indicates Jesus began his ministry in the synagogue at Nazareth when he read from the Prophet Isaiah and proclaimed he was fulfilling what the prophet promised.
John’s Gospel today has Jesus beginning his ministry at a marriage feast in Cana in Galilee when Jesus changed water into wine.
Cana and Nazareth are two small towns in Galilee a few miles apart, yet closely related.They played an important role in Jesus’ early life. He was raised in Nazareth and he performed the first sign of the promised kingdom to come in Cana. (John 2, 1-12)
The two towns weren’t thought much of in Jesus’ day. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” The same could be said about Cana. Nazareth is located on top of a mountain in upper Galilee; Cana is just down from it on the plain of Esdraelon.
The couple whose wedding Jesus, his mother and disciples attended were probably farmers from Cana, relatives or friends of Mary and Jesus. It was a wedding in a small town that took place over some days. like other weddings then. Those who came had to be put up and fed. It was a family embarrassment if anything spoiled the occasion.
It looks like that was about to happen when the wine for the celebration ran out. “They have no wine,” Mary said to Jesus, her Son.
Jesus turned large jars of water into wine and it was a better wine than before. The “first sign” John points to in his gospel is a miracle, yes, but it doesn’t seem to compare to the other “signs” in John’s Gospel, like the raising of Lazarus from the dead or new sight given the blind man.
Did others notice what happened besides the head waiter? Did most think, perhaps, the new wine was from choice reserves the family drew upon?
The celebration probably took three days, at least, and Jesus must have been there with his mother and disciples all those days. Just part of the celebration.
Were they signs of God’s ordinary presence in life, God’s unnoticed presence? Is the wedding feast of Cana a sign of God love for places like Cana, for its ordinary people, for couples who names we do not know?
God loves everyplace, everything, everybody, small as they are. God delights in the Canas of this world and the people living in them. Jesus not only brought good wine to that wedding, but he stayed for the feast as a sign of the ordinary presence of God.
Our reading from Isaiah today seems to indicate that. It describes God as a bridegroom taking Israel, small as she is, as a bride:
“No more shall men call you ‘Forsaken’
or your land ‘desolate’.
But you shall be called ‘ My delight’
and your land ‘espoused’
for the Lord delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your builder shall marry you,
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.”
Those words were fulfilled when Jesus came to the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. He was a sign of God rejoicing, delighting in his people, at home with them. He was a sign of the ordinary presence of God.