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Holy Land Pilgrimage

Water and Wine

February 14, 2019

” And on the third day, there was a wedding in Cana, of Galilee and the Mother of Jesus was there…”

The text of this miracle story contains the saddest verse in all of sacred scripture: “…They have no wine!”

Some time ago, we had the opportunity to venerate the church in Cana, where there once was a wedding that Jesus attended. The church was small but beautiful. It’s a different experience than I thought it would be visiting these holy sites. There are so many people coming at once to see these churches. Even when you are in the middle of celebrating Mass there is a constant flow of people just behind you trying to see and experience the same thing. It teaches you perseverance in prayer for one thing, and for another, it tells you that the Gospel really is for everybody.

John the Gospel Writer places the wedding at Cana as the first of Jesus’s great signs. The wine runs out. It happens to the best of us. We know that at the time of Jesus a  wedding was a week-long affair. Plenty of parties, plenty of need for wine. And yet there’s a certain embarrassment when the wine runs out. What happens to us when our prayer runs dry? It’s normal, it happens to the best of us. Yet we feel embarrassed, or panicked, or unprepared. Sometimes we lose that connection with Jesus, or it becomes out of focus. Our lives seem to be unraveling. The things that were once good and beautiful for us turn as generic as water — sometimes to our own embarrassment.

One can see the true humanity of Mary and Jesus in this scene. Mary, like a good Jewish mother, sees fit to try to help in any way that she can, including volunteering her son, who had no idea that he was going to get dragged into this. When he realized he had, he acted — immediately!  The first of the great signs occurred in the water becoming wine. Jesus is doing the same for us. He turns our water into wine. He turns our dryness in prayer, our weak spirit, our very lives into something as beautiful as good wine at a wedding.

Jesus is doing the same thing for us, we who are on this pilgrimage together, we who are preparing for ordained ministry. We are preparing for our very lives to be changed into something different. The effects of our ordination, just like Jesus intervening in our lives, will be as instantaneous as the water becoming wine.

Danny Orris

Diocese of Grand Rapids
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