Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coming Up Short

This Sunday’s Gospel is John 2:1-11, the wedding feast miracle at Cana. It has always seemed a little strange to me that, when Jesus is told by His mother that the wine has run out, He replies by saying “My hour has not yet come.” Jesus’ "hour" in John is a reference to His impending crucifixion. Why does Jesus make that connection? What would running out of wine have to do with the cross?

Part of the connection, I believe, is revealed in the word used to describe the problem in John 2:3, husterasantos, meaning “lacking”: “When wine was lacking,” or “when they ran out of wine.” It’s the same word used in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short (husterountai) of the glory of God.” The reason that the things of this creation fail us and run short is because we ourselves have failed and come up short. This has not only brought the judgment of death on us; it has brought a curse on all creation. The blessings of God's good creation are passing and temporary. The Scriptures say that the world in its present form is in bondage to decay and is passing away (Cf. Romans 8:21).

So, when the wine ran out, that drew attention to the hour of Christ’s suffering and dying in order to redeem His sapped and fallen creation. Jesus reminds His mother that if she is going to appeal to him for a miracle, she must also deal with the cross, where He will break the curse of decay and death forever. Already here, then, Jesus was beginning to bring about the redemption of creation, which would come to fulfillment on Good Friday and Easter. For He was reversing the draining force of sin so that there was bounty and joy once again.

This miracle, like the greater miracle of Jesus' resurrection, occurs “on the third day” (John 2:1). In Him and through Him creation is renewed and revitalized. The prophet Amos (9:13) said of the Messiah’s kingdom, “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when . . . sweet wine will drip from the mountains and flow from the hills.” No lack here! And Isaiah (25:6) foretold a day when the Lord would swallow up death forever. Of that day he said this, “The Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine–the best of meats and the finest of wines.” In this miracle, then, we begin to see the very kingdom of God and the new creation breaking in, which will be revealed in all its glory on the Last Day.

The Gospel concludes by saying that through this miracle Jesus “manifested His glory.” We have fallen short of the glory of God, but Christ is the glory of God revealed and freely given to us in the cleansing water of baptism and the rich wine of His precious blood.

1 comment:

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Just as I was wondering how to approach the wedding at Cana this time around.

Thanks for this.