Mary at the wedding at Cana

So Jesus began his miracles in Cana of Galilee, manifested his glory and his disciples believed in him.

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Gospel - John [2, 1-12]

Three days later, there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee and there was the mother of Jesus. Jesus was also invited to the wedding with his disciples. Meanwhile, when the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him: "They have no more wine". And Jesus replied: "What have I to do with you, O woman? My hour has not come yet". The mother says to the servants: "Do whatever he tells you" There were six stone jars for the purification of the Jews, each containing two or three barrels. And Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water"; and filled them to the brim.

He said to them again, "Now serve some and bring it to the table master". And they brought him some. And when he had tasted the water that had become wine, the table master, who did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew it), called the bridegroom and said to him: "Everyone serves good wine from the beginning and, when they are a little tipsy, the less good one; instead you have kept the good wine up to now".

So Jesus began his miracles in Cana of Galilee, manifested his glory and his disciples believed in him. After this, he went down to Capernaum together with his mother, brothers and his disciples and stayed there only a few days.

Exegesis - John [2, 1-12]

In the episode of the wedding at Cana, St. John presents Mary's first intervention in Jesus' public life and highlights her cooperation in the mission of the Son.

From the beginning of the story the evangelist warns that "there was the mother of Jesus" and, as if to suggest that this presence is at the origin of the invitation addressed by the spouses to Jesus himself and his disciples, he adds: "Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding". With these notations John seems to indicate that in Cana, as in the fundamental event of the Incarnation, Mary is the one who introduces the Savior.

The meaning and role that the presence of the Virgin assumes is manifested when there is no wine. She, as an expert and wise housewife, immediately realizes this and intervenes so that the joy of all does not fail and, in the first place, to help the spouses in difficulty.

Addressing Jesus with the words: "They have no more wine", Mary expresses her concern for this situation, waiting for a solving intervention. More precisely, according to some exegetes, the Mother expects an extraordinary sign, since Jesus did not have wine available to her.

The choice of Mary, who could perhaps have procured the necessary wine elsewhere, shows the courage of her faith because, up to that moment, Jesus had not worked any miracle, either in Nazareth or in public life.

At Cana the Virgin once again shows her total availability to God. She who in the Annunciation, believing in Jesus before seeing him, had contributed to the prodigy of the virginal conception, here, trusting in the not yet revealed power of Jesus, provokes her "first sign", the prodigious transformation of water into wine.

In this way she precedes in faith the disciples who, as John relates, will believe after the miracle: Jesus "manifested his glory and his disciples believed in him". Indeed, by obtaining the prodigious sign, Mary offers support to their faith. Jesus' response to Mary's words: "What have I to do with you, O woman? My hour has not yet come", expresses an apparent refusal, almost putting the Mother's faith to the test.

According to an interpretation, from the moment Jesus begins his mission, he seems to question the natural relationship of a son, called into question by his mother. The phrase, in the spoken language of the environment, intends, in fact, to emphasize a distance between people, with the exclusion of communion of life. This distance does not eliminate respect and esteem; the term "woman", with which he addresses his mother, is used in a meaning that will return in the dialogues with the Canaanite, with the Samaritan woman, with the adulteress and with Mary Magdalene, in contexts that manifest a positive relationship of Jesus with her interlocutors.

With the expression: "What have I to do with you, O woman?", Jesus intends to place Mary's cooperation on the level of her salvation who, by engaging her faith and her hope, asks for the overcoming of the natural role of her mother. The motivation formulated by Jesus appears of greater importance: "My hour has not yet come".

"What have I to do with you, woman? Isn't my time yet?". Jesus makes Mary understand that by now he is no longer dependent on her, but he must take the initiative to do the work of the Father. Mary, then, docilely refrains from insisting with him and instead turns to her servants to invite them to be obedient to him.

In any case, her trust in her Son is rewarded. Jesus, to whom she has totally left the initiative, works the miracle, recognizing the courage and docility of the Mother: "Jesus said to them: 'Fill the jars with water'; and they filled them to the brim". Their obedience, therefore, also contributes to obtaining wine in abundance. Mary's request: "Do whatever he tells you" retains its ever-present value for Christians of every age, and is destined to renew its marvelous effect in everyone's life. It exhorts us to trust without hesitation, especially when we do not understand the meaning and usefulness of what Christ asks.

As in the Canaanite account, the apparent refusal of Jesus exalts the faith of the woman, so the words of the Son: "My hour has not come yet", together with the fulfillment of the first miracle, manifest the greatness of the faith of the Mother and the strength of his prayer.

The episode of the wedding at Cana exhorts us to be courageous in the faith and to experience in our existence the truth of the Gospel word: "Ask and it will be given to you".

General Audience of John Paul II
Wednesday February 26, 1997