January 19, 2016
The wedding feast at Cana is a rich story, with many important messages for us. In preparing to preach, I wasn’t sure which direction to go, so I actually ended up preparing two homilies for last Sunday.
Here is the one that I didn’t use…maybe next time.
The Wedding Feast at Cana would not have made a very good movie.
In order to make a great dramatic movie, you need two things: There must be, of course, a primary dramatic event. However, in order to heighten the drama, you also need a trigger event. This is a smaller event that occurs first, putting us on a collision course with the bigger, more dramatic event.
Think of the Rocky movies. In every movie, Rocky is losing the fight. Then, while flat on his back and apparently down and out, he sees Adrian out of the corner of his eye. She’s crying and mouthing the words, “Stay down. Stay down.” Of course, he doesn’t stay down. Her words are the trigger. Suddenly, he’s back up, the Rocky soundtrack is playing, and he rallies to defeat the bigger, stronger, more talented opponent.
Every natural disaster movie ever made has had a trigger. A change in barometric pressure causing animals to act oddly, the ground shaking briefly, causing a knick knack to fall off the shelf; an eerie looking sky; a vagrant warning everyone that the end is near. Moments later the earthquake, or tornado, or tidal wave is in full force.
Which brings me back to the wedding feast at Cana.
Perhaps the most powerful event in history was taking place. God came to earth in human form as Jesus. He was God and man, fully divine and fully human. This wedding feast would be the site of the very first miracle of Jesus, and the secret would be out. It would finally be revealed that He was the long-awaited Christ. His recently begun public ministry would be off to an explosive start.
It had all the makings of a great Hollywood script.
But it was not to be.
What were the trigger events that led up to the first miracle of Jesus?
Well, I guess they ran out of wine.
While some, including my wife, might view this as a catastrophic event, it is actually pretty mundane. Sometimes wine runs out. While it may have been humiliating and brought dishonor to the host in those days, it’s not as though lives were at stake.
Then there was Mary’s involvement. Mary told Jesus there was no wine. She then ignored His objections and told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
So ultimately what led to Jesus performing His first miracle? His mom told Him to do it. Not much drama there.
Weddings were commonplace, so the venue was not out of the ordinary.
Even the actual event, the miracle itself, was not very dramatic. Turning 120 gallons of water into wine is no small feat, but it was performed for a very small audience.
Jesus and Mary knew it happened. The servants who filled the jars knew. The handful of disciples who attended the wedding with Jesus knew. The miracle was, at best, understated.
But then, that should come as no surprise. We’re talking about the same Jesus who was born in a manger, and was raised as the son of a carpenter and a peasant girl.
This is the same Jesus who would seek time alone in a deserted place to take a break from the crowds, and would slip away at the first mention of anyone wanting to make Him a king.
The same Jesus who refused to sit at a seat of honor when invited to a formal gathering and who often dined with sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes.
This is the same Jesus who would later perform countless other miracles and healings, most often telling those he healed, “Tell no one about this.”
Jesus Himself was understated.
That was not by chance.
Would we have responded the same to a Jesus born of royalty? Or to a Jesus dressed in lavish robes, who preached from the comfort of His balcony? Or to a Jesus who gathered people around Him in order to wow them with grand miracles in the public square?
We likely would have tuned Him out. How could we relate? How could He possibly understand us and understand our needs?
Jesus was fully divine, but also fully human – like us in all things but sin. He was out among the common people, with people like us – serving the poor, touching lepers, and eating with sinners.
Always the teacher, He wanted us to understand humility. It was never about Him, always about others.
Remember His words at the Last Supper as He finished washing the feet of his disciples: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
If you want to experience drama, pull up a chair and watch Rocky.
If you want to experience humility and love, pull up a chair at the sinners’ table.