Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Holy Spirit and the Wedding of Cana

Today's readings speak about God and His marriage covenant toward His people. This is ever so evident not only in the first reading where we hear the prophet say specifically that our God will marry us, but also in Gospel of the Wedding of Cana. Jesus, the Bridegroom of the Church, announces the new covenant by providing choice wines, a prophetic annunciation of Messianic victory (if you look at the link, check out verse nine especially!). The water made wine is also a figure of the wine of the new and everlasting covenant, the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Calvary (the mountain spoken of in Isaiah 25). The wine provided for this wedding feast was an immense quantity, symbolizing the overabundance of God's love (or so says the priest who gave the homily at mass today). Also, it symbolizes the feast of the wedding banquet... the feast mentioned by Jesus in reference to the Kingdom of God in Mt 22.

Our friend St. Bonaventure (at least I think it was him, please correct me if I'm wrong) adds another aspect to this miracle at Cana. He looks at the wine in reference to Psalm 104 "wine to gladden our hearts." In this respect, Mary asks Jesus to give them "wine", of which they have run out. So, instead of just being an issue of beverages and Jesus coming to the aid of an embarrassed couple who did not have enough wine for their wedding feast, the wine at Cana is a deeper issue of Jesus giving joy to humanity.

There is another aspect I want to bring into this, in light of my recent reflections on the Holy Spirit (also in case we think the second reading from 1 Cor 12 is completely out of place... it's not). When we speak of the wine of the new covenant, of course we think of the blood of Christ poured out on the cross, and of course we think about Holy Thursday and the institution of the Eucharist. But we must not forget, that the new covenant is initiated on the cross, but ratified on the day of Pentecost. They are connected. They cannot be separated. Just as the passover of the old covenant does not make sense without the ratification of the covenant with the receiving of the law on Mount Sinai, so too does the liberation of the new passover, the paschal mystery of Christ, not make sense without the ratification of that new covenant in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. And should we not recall what it was that people said about the apostles, albeit scoffing, when they were rejoicing in the Holy Spirit and proclaiming Jesus as Lord and praising God? "They have had too much new wine" (Acts 2:13). And the Holy Spirit, is He not called the "oil of gladness"?

So, let us not forget the Holy Spirit's role in this wedding feast. Is He not the one who actuates our union with Christ? For without Him, we are not in union with the Body of Christ. And what does Saint Seraphim of Sarov tells us about the virgins waiting for the Bridegroom? Is it not that those who "had oil" and were allowed into the wedding banquet were the ones who had acquired the Holy Spirit? (See The Aim of the Christian Life).

So, let us remember that this wedding feast we celebrate is the wedding of God and man, the Holy Trinity and sinners made saints! It is a Trinitarian mystery!

I just feel like singing right now! During the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom after receiving the Eucharist, our brothers and sisters in the east sing this refrain:

We have seen the true light. We have received the heavenly spirit. We have found
the true faith, worshiping the Holy Trinity, for the Trinity has saved us!
Indeed the Trinity has saved us. Let us rejoice and be glad!

Hodie est dies quam fecit Dominus exultemus et laetemur in ea!

(See also Father Cantalamessa's homily (2007 01 12) for the meaning of the Wedding of Cana and Christian marriages today.)


forget me not said...

This is a beautiful reflection. As I understand it, wedding feasts in those days were whole town or whole neighborhood affairs, and they lasted a week! So that's why the headwater was so amazed that the good wine was saved for last. We should always strive for the "good wine" of true Christian values and not give in to the temptation of inferior things, which the world is constantly throwing our way at what seems to be a lower price.

Br. Chris Gaffrey, ofm said...

Thanks for the comments, Forget Me Not. They are always appreciated. You're right, the wedding party would have been for a week or so.

jsdiamond37 said...

Thanks for your insightful thoughts. I have been doing a lot of thinking lately on,"the best wine until last." Through the ages God spoke in different ways to His people, but in these days He has spoken by Son. Is,"the best wine till last" referring to Jesus & the Holy Spirit in place of getting a temporary lift from intoxicating wine?

Br. Chris Gaffrey, ofm said...

Thanks jsdiamond37 for your comment. To try to answer your question, the simple answer is "yes," the best wine, in as much as it respresents the blood of Christ and is a source of ultimate joy does represent Jesus and the gift of His Spirit. But one should be careful about drawing any negative conclusions about wine. No where in the passage is Jesus saying that the wine previously provided was bad. He doesn't condemn having wine and neither should we out of some idea that one can have no other consolation except some spiritual idea of consolation in Christ. God did indeed give us "wine to cheer man's heart," but of course this means we need not abuse wine or any other alcohol in excess, but use it responsibly and knowing our limits.

paolina said...

So glad I stumbled over your blog page reg. The wedding feast at Cana..some wonderfull insights I gladly steal in my heart for my meeting tomorrow.
Blessings and Peace.