The Third Sunday after the Epiphany
Today, Epiphany III, ends our short Epiphany season this year.
Two weeks ago we heard the story of Jesus, as a young man,
being in the midst of the elders at the Temple,
listening and asking questions,
and they were amazed at his knowledge.
Last week, we heard the words from heaven, “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,”
And Fr. Allen spoke of the New Exodus in which we follow Jesus Chist
as we flee, not from an Army, but from sin.
And today we continue the revealing of Jesus,
at a wedding celebration, in Cana.
Why do you suppose this to be the first miracle of Jesus?
Why start with a marriage,
why not start with some dazzling miracle, like raising someone from the dead –
surely that would have a more immediate impact
than turning water into wine?
As we look at a strange conversation between Mary and her son,
Is there more?
Would the Jews, the lost sheep of Israel,
have heard something different than what we hear today?
When one reads the narrative, several questions might arise:
Why does Mary tell Jesus, who was simply a guest at this wedding,
that “they have no wine.”
was this his responsibility (?),why not take the matter to the host of the wedding?
And why would Jesus call his own mother “woman”?
Is Jesus breaking the commandment of Honor thy father and your mother?
Many Biblical scholars will tell you that in the Jewish context
the word “Woman” could easily refer also to Eve,
as Eve was referred to as “woman” some eleven times in Genesis,
And all these occasions were before the Fall.
For this, and other reasons,
some identify Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as the new Eve,
thus the “Mother” of a New Creation. Dare I say the Mother of a New Covenant
(a new sacred, permanent family bond.)
From a Jewish perspective,
Mary’s words, “they have no wine” could refer to the Jewish scripture as
is very similar to a prophecy in the book of Isaiah,
which any devout Jewish family would have known;
as it describes the desire of the people of Israel
for the wine of salvation.
(Isaiah 24th chapter)
“no more do they drink wine with singing – …
there is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine – …
all joy has reached its Eventide – …
the gladness of the earth it’s banished – …”
And this prophecy does not end with Israel running out of wine.
Isaiah also says that the Lord himself will respond
by providing it in the future,
(a very special Feast of wine it is called in Isaiah 25.)
Later, Jewish tradition of this Feast calls it
a return to Eden.
The righteous would drink the miraculous wine
of which, some ancient religious texts,
speaks of it being
“preserved in grapes … since the six days of creation.”
(Numbers Rabbah 13:2 – a collection of rabbinical interpretations on the Book of Genesis)
So is Mary (?) asking Jesus to provide the sacrificial and supernatural wine
of the Salvation spoken of in the Book of Isaiah?
We do not know for sure, for only Mary and Jesus would know the secrets of their conversation,
but if so,
then his reply does not seem so out of place.
“Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come”
And if the turning of 120 to 180 gallons of water into wine
may seem a little excessive
remember the wedding feast lasted the entire week.
Amos also speaks of “The mountains shall drip sweet wine and all the hillside
flow with it (Amos 9: 11 ,13.)
And in that day the mountains shall drop sweet wine: Joel 3:18.
And now, it seems Jesus takes on the role and duties of the bridegroom
at the wedding of Cana, of which he was a guest.
Could this be for us a reflection upon a “Divine Love Story” –
a story of God’s love for His Creation?
For at Creation we read:
“And the rib,
which the Lord God had taken from man,
… made he a woman,
and brought her unto the man (Genesis 2: 22.)
In this first marriage, of Adam and Eve,
God himself acted as the best man and witness (the shosbin),
as He brought Eve (a woman) to Adam (a man.)
And in today’s reading, now it is Jesus taking on that role of the Bridegroom
as He now participates in this marriage by providing the wine.
“mine hour is not yet come” he says to His mother,
Soon his hour will come
as he will provide His Church with the true wine of salvation, His blood.
At the Last Supper, He starts A New Exodus for His People (the New Moses – and so much more,)
And this Exodus is one … in which you are participants
In Matthew 26:27 Jesus speaks of
“my blood of the New Covenant”
And Mark 14:24 he says
“my blood of the New Covenant”
This is followed in Luke 22:20 by
“poured out for you – is the New Covenant in my blood”
And finally in 1 Corinthians 11:25 “the New Covenant in my blood”
Many first-century Jews who would have heard these words from Jesus
of the blood of the “New Covenant”
and would have recognized them
as an allusion to the covenant between God and Israel.
This covenant, Old and New, is now between God and each of you,
as His adopted children, who call unto Him as
Abba, … Father (Roman 8:15).
So this conversation between Mary and Jesus could have been about more than a wedding;
but of Jesus’ role as the Messiah and the Salvation of God’s people.
As the Man and Woman became “One Flesh” at the first wedding,
This is also the story of Jesus and His relationship with His Church,
as being one.
This oneness between a man and woman, in Holy Matrimony,
is still made possible only by the Blood of Jesus Christ.
Yes, His love will flow out of His side, along with water, for His people.
That is why in Holy Matrimony, a Sacrament of His Holy Church,
is not to be entered into
unadvisedly or lightly,
but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God”
(done in respect, awe, and submission to Him)
thus Holy Matrimony is to be cherished.
For Holy Matrimony is unlike “a Marriage”, being a document signed outside of the church,
for Holy Matrimony involves “of living together after God’s ordinances”
Of which the joining together of Man and Woman is an honorable estate,
instituted by God,
signifying the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and His Church.
Holy Matrimony is to be adorned and beautified by His presence,
as His real Presence is in the midst of us today in His Church.
as it was at the wedding in Cana.
A great price has been paid for us
as we partake in all of His Holy Sacraments.
Jesus is the foundation upon which our faith is built,
and is the foundation upon which is built
Christ’s oneness with His Church,
It is upon this union between a man and a woman that the world depends and survives.
A Man and a Woman,
united in Him,
is established by God Almighty.
Yes, the Gospel this morning is more than His first miracle, it is about a Divine Love Story of you and God,
So do come unto Him.