From: John 2:1-12
The Wedding at Cana
1. Cana in Galilee was probably what is now Kef Kenna, seven kilometers (four
miles) north-east of Nazareth.
The first guest to be mentioned is Mary: St Joseph is not mentioned, which can-
not be put down to St John’s forgetfulness: his silence here and on other occa-
sions in his Gospel leads us to believe that Joseph had already died.
The wedding celebrations lasted quite a while in the East (Gen 29:27; Judg 14:
10, 12, 17; Job 9:12; 10:1). In the course of the celebrations relatives and friends
would come to greet the newly-weds; even people passing through could join in
the celebration. Wine was regarded as an indispensable element in meals and
also helped to create a festive atmosphere. The women looked after the catering:
here our Lady would have lent a hand, which was how she realized they were
running out of wine.
2. “To show that all states in life are good, [...] Jesus deigned to be born in the
pure womb of the Virgin Mary; soon after he was born he received praise from the
prophetic lips of Anna, a widow, and, invited in his youth by the betrothed couple,
he honored the wedding with the power of his presence” (St Bede, “Hom. 13”, for
the second Sunday after the Epiphany). Christ’s presence at the wedding at Ca-
na is a sign that he blesses love between man and woman joined in marriage:
God instituted marriage at the beginning of creation (cf. Gen 1:27-28); Jesus con-
firmed it and raised it to the dignity of a sacrament (cf. Mt 19:6).
3. In the Fourth Gospel the Mother of Jesus — this is the title St John gives her
— appears only twice: once here, and the other time on Calvary (Jn 19:25). This
suggests Mary’s involvement in the redemption. A number of analogies can be
drawn between Cana and Calvary. They are located at the beginning and at the
end of Jesus’ public life, as if to show that Mary is present in everything that Je-
sus did. Her title — Mother — carries very special tones: Mary acts as Jesus’ true
Mother at these two points in which his divinity is being revealed. Also, both epi-
sodes demonstrate Mary’s special solicitude towards everyone: in one case she
intercedes when “the hour” has not yet come; in the other she offers the Father
the redeeming death of her Son, and accepts the mission Jesus confers on her
to be the Mother of all believers, who are represented on Calvary by the beloved
“In the public life of Jesus Mary appears prominently; at the very beginning when
at the marriage feast of Cana, moved with pity, she brought about by her interces-
sion the beginning of the miracles of Jesus the Messiah (cf. John 2:1-11). In the
course of her Son’s preaching she received the words whereby, in extolling a king-
dom beyond the concerns and ties of flesh and blood, he declared blessed those
who heard and kept the word of God (cf. Mk 3:35; Lk 11:27-28) as she was faith-
fully doing (cf. Lk 2:19, 51). Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage
of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where
she stood (cf. Jn 19:25), in line with the divine plan, enduring with her only-begot-
ten Son the intensity of his passion, with his sacrifice, associating herself in her
mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim which was
born of her. Finally, she was given by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross
as a mother to his disciple, with these words: ‘Woman, behold thy son’ (Jn 19:
26-27)” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium”, 58).
4. For the meaning of the words of this verse see the section on our Lady in the
“Introduction” above (pp. 35ff). It should also be said that the Gospel account of
this dialogue between Jesus and his Mother does not give us his gestures, tone
of voice etc.: to us, for example, his answer sounds harsh, as if he were saying,
“This is no concern of ours”. But that was not the case.
“Woman” is a respectful title, rather like “lady” or “madam”; it is a formal way of
speaking. On the Cross Jesus will use the same word with great affection and
veneration (Jn 19:26).
[The sentence rendered “What have you to do with me?” (RSV) is the subject
of a note in RSVCE which says “while this expression always implies a diver-
gence of view, the precise meaning is to be determined by the context, which
here shows that it is not an unqualified rebuttal, still less a rebuke.” The Navarre
Spanish is the equivalent of “What has it to do with you and me?”] The sentence
“What has it to do with you and me?” is an Oriental way of speaking which can
have different nuances. Jesus’ reply seems to indicate that although in principle
it was not part of God’s plan for him to use his power to solve the problem the
wedding feast had run into, our Lady’s request moves him to do precisely that.
Also, one could surmise that God’s plan envisaged that Jesus should work the
miracle at his Mother’s request. In any event, God willed that the Revelation of
the New Testament should include this important teaching: so influential is our
Lady’s intercession that God will listen to all petitions made through her; which
is why Christian piety, with theological accuracy, has called our Lady “suppli-
“My hour has not yet come”: the term “hour” is sometimes used by Jesus to
designate the moment of his coming in glory (cf. Jn 5:28), but generally it refers
to the time of his passion, death and resurrection (cf. Jn 7:30; 12:23; 13:1; 17:1).
5. Like a good mother, the Virgin Mary knows perfectly well what her son’s reply
means — though to us it is ambiguous (”What has it to do with you and me?”):
she is confident that Jesus will do something to come to the family’s rescue.
This is why she tells the servants so specifically to do what Jesus tells them.
These words of our Lady can be seen as a permanent invitation to each of us:
“in that all Christian holiness consists: for perfect holiness is obeying Christ in
all things” (St Thomas Aquinas, “Comm. on St John, in loc.”).
We find the same attitude in Blessed John Paul II’s prayer at our Lady’s shrine
at Knock, when he consecrated the Irish people to God: “At this solemn moment
we listen with particular attention to your words: “Do whatever my Son tells you”.
And we wish to respond to your words with all our heart. We wish to do what
your Son tells us, what he commands us, for he has the words of eternal life. We
wish to carry out and fulfill all that comes from him, all that is contained in the
Good News, as our forefathers did for many centuries. [...] Today, therefore, [...]
we entrust and consecrate to you, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church,
our hearts, our consciences, and our works, in order that they may be in keeping
with the faith we profess. We entrust and consecrate to you each and every one
of those who make up both the community of the Irish people and the community
of the People of God living in this land” (”Homily at Knock Shrine”, 30 September
6. We are talking about 500-700 liters (100-150 gallons) of top quality wine. St
John stresses the magnificence of the gift produced by the miracle — as he also
does at the multiplication of the loaves (Jn 6:12-13). One of the signs of the arri-
val of the Messiah was abundance; here we have the fulfillment of the ancient pro-
phecies: “the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase”, as
Psalm 85:12 proclaims; “the threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall
overflow with wine and oil” (Joel 2:24; cf. Amos 9:13-15). This abundance of ma-
terial goods is a symbol of the supernatural gifts Christ obtains for us through
the Redemption: later on St John highlights our Lord’s words: “I came that they
may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10; cf. Rom 5:20).
7. “Up to the brim”: the evangelist gives us this further piece of information to em-
phasize the superabundance of the riches of Redemption and also to show how
very precisely the servants did what they were told, as if hinting at the importance
of docility in fulfilling the will of God, even in small details.
9-10. Jesus works miracles in a magnificent way; for example, in the multiplica-
tion of the loaves and fish (cf. Jn 6:10-13) he feeds five thousand men — who eat
as much as they want — and the left-overs fill twelve baskets. In this present mi-
racle he does not change the water into just any wine but into wine of excellent
The Fathers see in this good wine, kept for the end of the celebrations, and in its
abundance, a prefiguring of the crowning of the history of salvation: formerly God
sent the patriarchs and prophets, but in the fullness of time he sent his own Son,
whose teaching perfects the old Revelation and whose grace far exceeds the ex-
pectations of the righteous in the Old Testament. They also have seen, in this
good wine coming at the end, the reward and joy of eternal life which God grants
to those who desire to follow Christ and who have suffered bitterness and contra-
diction in this life (cf. St Thomas Aquinas, “Commentary on St John, in loc.”).
11. Before he worked this miracle the disciples already believed that Jesus was
the Messiah; but they had too earthbound a concept of his salvific mission. St
John testifies here that this miracle was the beginning of a new dimension in
their faith; it became much deeper. “At Cana, Mary appears once more as the
Virgin in prayer: when she tactfully told her Son of a temporal need, she also ob-
tained an effect of grace, namely, that Jesus, in working the first of his ‘signs’,
confirmed his disciples’ faith in him” (Paul VI, “Marialis Cultus”, 18).
“Why are Mary’s prayers so effective with God? The prayers of the saints are
prayers of servants, whereas Mary’s are a Mother’s prayer, whence flows their
efficacy and their authority; and since Jesus has immense love for his Mother,
she cannot pray without being listened to. [...]
“To understand Mary’s great goodness, let us remember what the Gospel says.
[...] There was a shortage of wine, which naturally worried the married couple.
No one asks the Blessed Virgin to intervene and request her Son to come to
the rescue of the couple. But Mary’s heart cannot but take pity on the unfortu-
nate couple [...]; it stirs her to act as intercessor and ask her Son for the mira-
cle, even though no one asks her to. [...] If our Lady acted like this without
being asked, what would she not have done if they actually asked her to inter-
vene?” (St Alphonsus, “Sunday Sermons”, 48).
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.
Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.
|First reading||Isaiah 62:1-5 ©|
|Psalm||Psalm 95:1-3,7-10 ©|
|Second reading||1 Corinthians 12:4-11 ©|
|Gospel||John 2:1-11 ©|