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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories: They have no wine – God`s Great Sign

In the Gospel of John (2:1-11) we hear the story of what John calls the first of Jesus` signs. It takes place at a wedding in Cana. The first part of John`s Gospel, (chapters 1-12) is often referred to as the Book of Signs. Through the wonders and miracles that John describes in this section we are give a whole series of signs which show forth the action of God amongst on the part of Jesus. They express God`s care and love through the touch of Jesus, divine and human.

Cana presents Jesus in action for the first time. He is launching his mission to make the Reign of God present and active in the world. The Good News is announced in the great sign – Jesus himself, but also, for John in a series of signs that reveal the divine presence amongst us in a saving and life-giving way. Is it possible that perhaps such signs are ever present in our lives? To recognize such signs around us is important.

The story begins with Mary at the wedding turning to her son and calling on him for help. She says something to Jesus that might seem a mere observation an expression of concern. Mary remarks: They have no wine. What a sensitive and caring appeal on Mary`s part. In John`s telling of the story, it is the Good News unfolding and it takes on much more significant meaning.

They have no wine expresses something is missing. The couple, the wedding, lacks something. Mary, in the account, speaks for all humanity. In this first of Jesus` signs, she declares a fundamental reality of human existence – we lack. We are not, in the end, self-sufficient. Our fulfillment will only come when we allow God to act in our life and in our world.

This sign at Cana becomes an expression of the God`s great sign – God`s touch of humanity in Jesus. At the wedding, Jesus` action fills the lack in the occasion. The story of Cana in this Gospel takes us to something deep within us. As much as we desire fulfillment, as much as we want to understand what life means for us, as much as we seek happiness and contentment – we cannot gain this on our own. They have no wine speaks to us of our human insufficiency.

We have many lacks. The lack of peace and harmony in our world and in our own relationships, our inability to communicate fully with one another, our incapacity to respect and care abundantly for each other, these are all expressions of our human insufficiency. Our great human lack lies in our loss of union with God and with one another.

The story at Cana is the first indication in the Gospel, that Jesus comes to fulfill God’s dream for humanity and all creation. His presence, active among us bring the dream to life among us. In fact the image in the action of Jesus is beyond what Mary could ever have imagined.

The abundance that Jesus brings in response to Mary’s comment is revealed in the marvelous volume of wine that Jesus provides. What a sign of God`s love poured out on all. This is God`s reign among us. With this Reign comes the transformation of our world into a communion both with God and with one another. By ourselves we lack the means to be what God dreams for us. But then, it is not beyond God. The beginning for any of us is to recognize that the glory of God in Jesus and in one another is always present among us.

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