'I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending', said the Lord. (Revelation 1:8)
Sunday, October 14, 2012
The Marian Significance of Cana (John 2: 1-11)
Rev. Stephen Hartdegen, O.F.M.,
In the gospel narrative, Mary, the Mother of Christ, enters the scene of her
Son’s public ministry only three times: once at Cana (Jn. 2, 1-1 1); again,
among a great crowd outside a house in Galilee when it was said, "Behold, thy
mother and thy brethren are outside seeking thee" (Mk. 3, 32); and a third time
when she stood at the foot of the cross on Calvary (Jn. 19, 25-27). On three
other occasions, though she does not appear, reference is made to her: once by
the woman who exclaimed, "Blessed is the womb that bore thee" (Lk. 11, 27),
after witnessing Christ’s power over the evil spirit; again when Jesus was
rejected at Nazareth by His townsmen who offensively asked, "Is not this the
carpenter, the son of Mary?" (Mk. 6, 3); and a third time when the Jews murmured
about Christ for calling Himself "the bread that has come down from heaven," and
said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?
How then does he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?" (Jn. 6, 42). Twice when
Mary was referred to as His Mother, Jesus extolled fulfillment of His Father’s
will as being a motherhood of a higher order than that brought about by the
natural tie of flesh and blood (Mk. 3, 34-35; Lk. 11, 28).
These scenes and references, though small in number, are quite revealing as
regards Our Lady’s relationship both to Christ as Messias and to the messianic
people. The significance of Cana, which is our present concern, is far-reaching
not only because it is the first manifestation of a new and public relationship
to Christ, but also because it helps us understand more clearly the final scene
in which the dying Savior bequeaths to Mary the spiritual motherhood of redeemed
mankind. To appreciate the Marian significance of the Cana narrative a proper
understanding of the text and context is a necessary prerequisite.
The account of the marriage feast at Cana stands at the beginning of Our
Lord’s public ministry. Mary was present. Jesus and His disciples were also
invited. In the midst of the festivities Mary observes that the wine has failed,
and at once foresees the embarrassment to which the bridal pair are sure to be
exposed. In her maternal solicitude she calls the situation to the attention of
her Son, seemingly with the assurance that He will alleviate the embarrassment.
In answer to her statement, "They have no wine," she is told, literally, "What
is it to me and to thee, woman? My hour has not yet come." Despite this answer,
Mary seems confident of favorable action and addresses herself to the
attendants, "Do whatever he tells you." Jesus orders the six water jars used for
rites of purification to be filled with water. This He changes into wine and
then directs that the wine be drawn out and taken to the chief steward. The
latter, not knowing whence the wine came, regards it of superior quality,
remarking that, contrary to custom, the bridegroom has not served the good wine
first but reserved it till the last. The evangelist concludes the narrative with
the words: "This first of his signs Jesus worked at Cana of Galilee; and he
manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him." The concluding
sentence is the climax of the narrative and the key to the Messianic and Marian
significance of Cana.
From the literary standpoint the account of the marriage feast is a simple,
unembellished narrative. As with each of the seven miracles specifically
mentioned in the fourth gospel prior to the Passion, reference is made to its
intended effect of engendering faith in Christ. Unlike the others, however, the
two Cana miracles are not followed by discourses on the symbolism of the miracle
as, for example, the discourse on the Bread of Life which followed the
multiplication of the loaves and the fishes, or the Savior’s words on the
resurrection and the life in connection with the raising of Lazarus from the
dead. The simplicity of the account is no doubt due to its source, Our Lady
herself, who in her own quiet and discreet way became the occasion of the
miracle without drawing any attention to herself but only to her Son.
I. Some Problems of Interpretation1
1. Mary’s Request
First among the problems in the Cana narrative is the nature of Mary’s
remark, "They have no wine." For Boismard, Brunet, Maeso, and Van den Busche,
Mary’s words to her Son merely imply common concern or anxiety over the
embarrassment of lack of sufficient wine. For Braun, Gächter and Deiss, Mary
does not ask for a miracle explicitly but for relief from embarrassment for the
bridal pair by some natural means; for Migliorini, Mary’s words are an
observation which Jesus accepts as a command from His Mother. For Galot, Ceroke
and many others, Mary’s words in the light of the context imply a request for a
Mary’s statement, "They have no wine," is neither a mere womanly observation
of the bridal couple’s impending embarrassment nor anxiety over it with a hint
to her divine Son to supply or have supplied in a natural manner a quantity of
wine that might relieve the embarrassment. Certainly it is not a demand of her
Son that wine be supplied by whatever means. It is an expression of sympathetic
concern for the spouses, implying a delicate request of Christ to manifest His
divine power in their behalf with full faith in His power, and confidence that
He would perform a miracle, yet without any restriction of His complete freedom
It cannot be objected that the request for a miracle is a gratuitous
assumption. To expect that Jesus who had no material means would Himself furnish
a supply of wine in a natural manner would be still more gratuitous. The
expectation of an extraordinary means is to be gauged from Our Lord’s reply, "My
hour [for beginning to manifest my Messianic power] has not yet come"; from
Mary’s command to the attendants, "Do whatever he tells you"; and from the fact
that Our Lord did actually work a miracle in response to Mary’s plea for
assistance from Him. We cannot view Mary’s part in this event as the mere
natural reaction of a sympathetic woman, without any religious import, without
any thought on Mary’s part of invoking His messianic power. Her supernatural
faith in the power of her Son which inclined her to expect faith and obedience
even of the attendants, indicates further that her words were no mere
observation of an embarrassing situation, no mere hint to obtain more wine to
prolong the festivities, but a tactful request to alleviate the need of the
bridal couple by the power with which He was endowed in His public ministry. The
same faith on Mary’s part moves the "power of the Most High" to accomplish the
miracle of the Incarnation in her, as the witness of her cousin Elizabeth
clearly demonstrates: "Blessed is she who has believed, because the things
promised her by the Lord shall be accomplished."
2. "What is it to me and to thee."2
Interpretations of this response of Jesus range from the notion of hostility
to that of complete agreement. It occurs frequently in Sacred Scripture, also in
Greek and Latin literature. In Judges 11, 12, the exact counterpart of
the Cana passage, literally "What to me and to you," "What have you against me
that you should come to fight with me in my land?"3 The implication is that
there is nothing in common between Jephte and the king of the Ammonites that
would justify the latter in coming to take Israel’s land by force.
In 2 Sam. 16, 10, "What have I in common with you, O sons of
Sarvia,"4 King David rejects the offer of Abisai, the son of Sarvia,
to defend him by beheading Semei who had cursed the king. Cf. also 2 Sam.
19, 23. In 3 Kings 17, 18 the widow of Sarepta asks Elias, "What have
I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me that my iniquities should be
remembered, and that you should kill my son?"5 The same phrase and the
same sense is found in 4 Kings 3, 13 and in 2 Par. 35, 21. In the
former passage the prophet Eliseus shows his opposition to the king of Israel
with the words, "What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father
and your mother." In the latter passage, Nechao, king of Egypt, who came to
Charcamis by the Euphrates to fight, tells Josias, king of Juda, through a
messenger, that he did not come to fight against him. Moreover he warns him not
to fight, "What have I to do with you, 0 king of Juda?. . .
Forbear to do against God who is with me, lest he kill you." Cf. also 4
Kings 9, 18f; Os. 14, 9; Jer. 2, 18. In all these instances of
the Scriptures a negative, never a positive, answer is expected to the
rhetorical question, as Gächter rightly remarks.6
In Mt. 8, 29, "What have we to do with you, Son of God? Have you come
here to torment us before the time?" and in the parallel passages, Mk. 5,
7, Lk. 8, 28, also in Mk. 1, 24 and Lk. 4, 34 the same
negative answer is expected, meaning that we have nothing in common. In Mt.
27, 19 the wife of Pontius Pilate warns her husband concerning Christ, "Have
nothing to do with that just man."
The formula under consideration has the same sense in its frequent
occurrences in classical and koine Greek, as well as in that of the Hellenistic
period, besides in classical and in later Latin.7
The preponderance of evidence concerning the biblical as well as
extra-biblical use of the formula "Quid mihi et tibi" clearly indicates a lack
of common bond between persons relative to the particular situation found in the
context. Though the question is formulated positively, a negative reply is
If then we turn our attention to the passage in question, "Quid mihi et
the sense is, "What have I to do with you" or "What is there common to us"
uttered in a tone of friendliness in this context, not of reproof. The context
shows that Jesus is now engaged in His public ministry. The authority Mary had
over her Son in His hidden life no longer constitutes the bond, that is, no
longer exists in His public ministry. This is not to be taken as an affront any
more than other passages of the Gospel in which Our Lord clearly shows the
difference between natural and supernatural relationship to Him, e.g. "Who is my
mother and who are my brethren? Whoever does the will of my Father, he is my
brother and sister and mother." (Mt. 12, 48, 50). When Mary and Joseph
found the boy Christ in the temple after they had sought Him three days
sorrowing and asked, "Son, why hast thou done so to us?", He replied, "Did you
not know that I must be about my Father’s business?". Jesus’ reply was meant to
inform and to teach, not to reprove. He had just reached the legal age of
responsibility for fulfilling the Law. In His Father’s designs He was to
manifest even to the doctors of the Law in the temple the true wisdom and
knowledge of the Law and its purpose.
In the Greek text the equivalent of "woman" is in the vocative case.
Wackernagle’s treatise on some ancient forms of address contains numerous
examples of this usage in Greek antiquity: (a) a husband to his wife; (b) a man
to any woman, spoken with deference and respect; (c) as an address to women of
royalty; (d) of servants to their mistresses; (e) an honorable address commonly
used toward women.9
In the gospels Our Lord addresses the Samaritan woman (Jn. 4, 21), the
woman taken in adultery (8, 10), Mary Magdalen (20, 15), the Canaanite woman
(Mt. 15, 28), and the woman suffering from a curvature (Lk. 13,
12) with the same term "woman." Certainly the use of the term implies honor and
respect in each instance. The same is true of Jn. 2, 4 and 19, 26. The
difference in the last two instances from all the other examples cited is the
fact that Our Lord is not addressing just any woman, stranger or well known, but
His own Mother. Since the Johannine use is without parallel, the exact nuance is
still difficult to determine. Neither in antiquity nor today does the usage
prevail of a son addressing his mother as "woman."10
Jesus surely used this designation purposely. This change from the name
"mother" to woman at this time would seem to indicate that Jesus did not wish
the relationship of natural motherhood and authority to be the basis of Mary’s
dealings with Him in His public life and ministry of salvation. If anything, the
address "woman" instead of "mother" confirms our interpretation of "Quid mihi et
tibi?" Recalling that later in His ministry Jesus said, "Who are my mother and
my brethren? . . . Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and
mother,"11 we may infer that faith and adherence to His Father’s will,
rather than natural motherhood and authority are to be the bases of the
relationship of Mary and Jesus in Our Lord’s ministry of salvation. This is also
in accordance with His teaching, properly understood, that "if anyone comes to
me and does not hate his father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers
and sisters, yes and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."12
Considering the fact that Our Lord did heed His Mother’s request, even to the
extent of working His first miracle, the title "woman" with which He addressed
her must in some way be related to His public ministry. Father Gächter considers
the title to have had a messianic import deriving from the messianic context of
Our Lord’s response, "My hour has not yet come."13 While subscribing to this
messianic implication of Christ’s deliberate and special use of the title
"woman" in response to His Mother’s request, Galot maintains that the messianic
use was only implicit, and that as far as Mary was concerned, the substitution
of "woman" for "mother" signified for her that Jesus did not wish to consider
the natural title of mother in her regard. He considers that Mary understood
this address of Our Lord to have a broader intent, without knowing precisely
what intent, and that this address was rather a messianic orientation than a
clearly formulated messianic expression.14 In the relatively small
number of instances in which Mary appears, or is referred to, in Our Lord’s
public ministry, Jesus seems persistent in setting aside her natural
relationship of mother, even when He was dying on the Cross. It may rightly,
therefore, be inferred that He wished only His messianic relationship toward
Mary to prevail in His entire public ministry. What this relationship is, seems
also capable of more precise determination. The performance at the beginning of
His ministry, and at Mary’s request, of His first miracle to which the beginning
of the public manifestation of the glory of His messiaship was attached, and the
bequest at the close of His ministry which Jesus made of His Mother to redeemed
mankind through the beloved disciple, inclines us to the conclusion that the
address "woman" was a counterpart of the designation of Himself as "Son of man."
Both "Son of man" and "woman" would indicate in the first place that both
belonged to the ordinary race of human beings, but also that both enjoyed an
altogether and singular position, Christ, that of Son of God and Messias besides
mere man, and Mary that of "the woman" in God’s plan of salvation, i.e. the
Mother of the messianic people.
4. My hour has not yet come.15
This text is usually regarded as the key to the understanding of the Cana
narrative. The term "hour" in St. John’s Gospel may refer to: (a) a moment of
time, e.g. "the tenth hour" (1, 39); (b) a short time, e.g. "a while" (5, 35);
(c) the time for something to take place, e.g. "when the time for them has come
you may remember" (16, 4); the emphasis is more on what happens than on the time
it happens; (d) a new phase of Christ’s messianic work, already begun, or still
to begin, e.g. "the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers
will worship the Father in spirit and in truth" (4, 23). In many instances,
"hour" refers to the death, resurrection and Ascension of Christ (13, 1; 17,
1f); in others it refers to the time of Christ’s passion and death. In 7, 30
"they [the Jews] wanted therefore to seize him [to put him to death, cf. v. 20]
but no one laid hands on him because his hour had not yet come." Cf. also 8, 20;
12, 23, 27.
In Jn. 2, 4 "my hour" refers to a time for doing something pertaining
to the messianic work of Christ. The context as well as the general framework of
the gospel must determine the sense of "my hour" in this passage. Cullmann
considers it to be a reference to the time or hour for changing wine into the
blood of Christ at the Last Supper. Brunet considers "the hour" to mean the time
of Christ’s death when His power to work miracles will cease. At present He
possesses that power. Braun, Gächter and Van den Busche understand "my hour" to
refer to Christ’s death. When it comes, Mary will again find Jesus submissive to
her. In this way Jesus draws Mary’s attention to spiritual rather than temporal
realities to be concerned about. Boismard regards "the hour" as that of Christ’s
glorification, exaltation, the hour of returning to the Father. The hour of
miracles whereby Jesus manifests His glory is the beginning, or complement of
the full manifestation of His glory through His resurrection. Ceroke understands
it to be the hour of miracles which Jesus is awaiting as soon to take place.
understand Our Lord’s reply to be, not a declaration, but a question: "Has not
my hour come yet?" This solution finds the word "yet" difficult to explain, and
still more difficult the Savior’s previous question, "What have I to do with
Unlike the texts alleged which refer to Christ’s passion, the context of
Jn. 2, 4 does not contain any immediate reference whatever to the passion
and death of Christ. Such a reply would have been unintelligible to His Mother
by whom it was intended to be understood.
The evangelist’s remark in the context of the Cana narrative, "This first of
his signs Jesus worked . . . and he manifested his glory, and his disciples
believed in him," indicates that the "hour" in question is to be understood of
the time of beginning to manifest His glory through the messianic power of
miracles. True, it is the beginning of this hour or time which will continue, as
the remainder of the gospel shows, through further such manifestations until it
reaches its climax in the final and complete glorification of Christ in the
miracles of His resurrection and Ascension (cf. Jn. 13, 1; 17, 1f).
A difficulty still remains to be solved: if Christ’s hour of manifesting His
glory through His messianic power of miracles has not yet come, and if He is
unwilling to permit any intervention of Mary on the basis of the ties of natural
motherhood, why then does He commence that "hour" almost at once by working a
miracle and thereby manifesting His glory?
Though Mary’s request is not to be granted on the basis of natural
motherhood, it can be granted, and in reality is granted on the basis of divine
faith. If flesh and blood in themselves have no part in the messianic kingdom,
faith is the very foundation of the kingdom and the beginning of new life in the
kingdom. It was altogether fitting that the first of Christ’s followers to
manifest this faith in His divinity should be His own Mother. Because she
believed that those things were fulfilled which were "promised her by the Lord"
(Lk. 1, 45), the Son of God became man in her womb. "The word was made
flesh and dwelt among us. And we saw his glory—glory as of the only-begotten of
the Father—full of grace and truth" (1, 14). Again, because of her faith in
Christ’s divinity, and her willingness to put aside the authority deriving from
her natural maternity, Christ begins His "hour" of manifesting His divinity.
The hour of Christ, otherwise seemingly decreed to begin under different
circumstances, is now freely willed by the Father and His co-equal Son to
commence at once in response to the humble request of the woman whose faith, by
the will of the Father, brought His Son from heaven to earth at Nazareth, and
whose faith is again instrumental in having Him publicly manifested to others at
Since the term "hour" refers not so much to the time as to the event which
begins or continues to take place, there is no contradiction in Our Lord’s
repudiation of natural relationship as the motive for asserting His divinity,
while quickly granting the request that persists on the basis of perfect faith
in the same divinity.
The Chanaanite woman was also refused her request for curing her daughter as
she invoked Jesus’ natural relationship as son of David, only to be told that He
"was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But the faith
and perseverance of the woman who came and worshiped him, saying "Lord, help
me," and again, "Yes, Lord, even the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their
masters’ table," drew an immediate favorable response of the miraculous cure of
her daughter. "Jesus answered and said to her, "Woman, great is thy faith. Let
it be done to thee as thou wilt" (Mt. 15, 22-28).
The "hour" of Christ then in this context is understood to mean the time for
beginning the public manifestation of His glory through the messianic power of
miracles as a means of
accomplishing His work of salvation. This hour now begun would reach its
fullness in the glory resulting from the Passion, namely, the resurrection and
return to the Father.
5. Mary’s Word to the Attendants
"Do whatever he tells you." The text implies that Mary expected Jesus to tell
the attendants what to do, without implying that she knew what He would tell
them. The indetermination of what Jesus would command lies in the use of the
indefinite relative pronoun. It is expected that He will give some order to the
attendants. We noted above that this confidence, even assurance, which Mary
manifests concerning the intervention of Jesus cannot be construed as a hope
that He would obtain wine through some natural means provided directly or
indirectly by Himself. Such action on her part would have had little bearing on
His messianic work. Through her faith in the messianic power of her Son, Mary
confidently expects that Jesus will assist the bridal couple by this power. She
manifests her own strong faith, and by exacting obedience of the attendants,
also tests their faith, or rather inspires faith in them. The faith of Mary is
all the more marvelous because she does not importune Jesus beyond her original
request, yet perseveres in believing and trusting for help from Him.
The efficacy of prayer was well known to Mary. The angel’s assurance at the
hour of the Annunciation that Mary had found favor with God continued throughout
her life. She was further assured at that time that "nothing is impossible with
God" (Lk. 1, 37). It was her faith in the same divine omnipotence that is
so richly rewarded at the commencement of Jesus’ public life just as it was
rewarded at the beginning of His hidden life. It causes Christ’s hour of
supernatural manifestation of His power to benefit the disciples of Jesus with
the beginnings of divine faith.
II. Theological Significance of the Cana Narrative
In the light of our understanding and interpretation of the Cana narrative,
of its text and context, the broad features of Marian significance stand forth
in bold relief. These features can best be arranged and presented according to
the influence which Mary had over the various persons or classes of people who
attended the marriage feast. First and foremost is Christ Himself. During His
hidden life attention was focused on His humanity and on Mary’s motherhood
according to the flesh. In commencing His public life attention must be drawn to
His divinity veiled by His humanity, and to a new relationship of Mary to Christ
since she is not the mother of His divinity.
Mary’s motherhood, therefore, must not be a hindrance to acceptance of, and
belief in Christ’s divinity since she is not the mother of His divinity. Yet it
pleased God that Mary’s association with her divine Son should not be limited to
the mysteries of Christ’s hidden life. There was to be a new relationship of
Mary to Christ in this new phase of His life, namely, His public ministry. This
new relationship is well expressed both by referring to the inadequacy of the
natural bond or relationship alone. "What have I to do with you?" and by the use
of the new title "Woman." By this title Mary is placed among the common ranks of
all women who follow Him through faith in His divinity, but more than this,
because of her perfect faith in His divinity, she is given first place as the
woman through whose influence Jesus worked His first miracle and thereby
manifested the glory of His messianic power so that others too might believe in
Christ through the benefit of her intercession. Mary thus becomes the close
associate and collaborator with her Son in achieving the work of His public
ministry, namely, the manifestation of His office as Messias and Son of God. Her
function as collaborator is demonstrated by the part she played in bringing
about the performance of Christ’s first miracle and the accomplishment of its
purpose, belief in Him on the part of the disciples.
Though the hour, that is, the time for beginning Christ’s public
manifestation of His glory, could have been later, and under different
circumstances, in reality it begins at Cana during the marriage feast, through
Mary’s intercession, with the consent of the Father and the Son.
In the light of the gospel of St. John, this new relationship of Mary becomes
even clearer. In the "hour" of Nazareth and of Bethlehem Mary’s personal
relationship of Mother of Christ is revealed. Since the Word, first and
foremost, was born "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will
of man but of God," we see here the first manifestation of His glory "as of the
only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (Jn. 1, 14).
Cana is then the scene of the second phase of Christ’s manifestation of glory
which in turn prepares the way for the third and final scene. At the "hour" of
Calvary, when through His words "Woman, behold thy son; Son, behold thy mother"
(Jn. 19, 26 f) Jesus reveals the fullness of Mary’s role, seen less
clearly and through the sign of the first miracle at Cana, but now in the
fullness of her office of Mother of all the redeemed, of the Woman
through whom countless others come to "receive," i.e., believe in Christ, and
who also are born now, "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the
will of man but of God" sharing through Mary in the very life of her Son of
whose fullness of grace we have all received. But the hour of Calvary would be
meaningless as an hour of glorification without the necessary complement of
Christ’s Resurrection and return to the Father where Mary’s relationship to
Christ in glory continues through endless ages.
Having just referred to Mary’s spiritual motherhood at Calvary, we need but
see its relation to the hour of the manifestation of Christ’s glory at Cana,
according to the text, "He manifested his glory and his disciples believed in
While the faith of the disciples in Christ’s messiaship is directly related
to Christ’s miracle at Cana, Mary’s part in obtaining this miracle applies also
the effects of the miracle. She is therefore the instrumental cause of their
faith in the messiaship of Christ, and of the beginning of their faith in His
divinity. And since even the beginning of faith in Christ’s divinity is also the
commencement of the new life of grace, we see here the beginning or sign of
Mary’s spiritual motherhood.
The purpose of the entire gospel of St. John is contained in his epilogue:
"Many other signs also Jesus worked in the sight of his disciples, which are not
written in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is
the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in his name"
(Jn. 20, 30).
Christ’s purpose in performing His miracles is no different from the
evangelist’s purpose in recording them: "that you may believe that Jesus is the
Christ, and that believing, you may have life in his name." Christ’s own words
express the same thing: "If you are not willing to believe me, believe the
works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in me and I in the
Father" (Jn. 10, 38).
The Cana narrative also reveals the function of Mary in relation to the
attendants. We have seen their confidence in Mary and their willingness to obey
Christ’s command after being disposed to do so by Mary, "Do whatever he tells
you." This role of Mary of disposing people to obey, and through obedience to
come to believe in Christ, is another phase of collaboration in the messianic
activity of her Son.
The bridal couple also experience the benefits of Mary’s presence through the
dignity she brought to the marriage
feast, and the relief of their embarrassment to fulfill satisfactorily their
hospitality toward the marriage guests.
Thus, the ordinary things of human life, even material things, are not
beneath the sphere of Mary’s care and influence, nor are they to be excluded
from entering the sphere of the life of the spirit.
III. Marian Significance in the Universal Framework of the
Economy of Salvation
The Marian significance of the Marriage Feast of Cana extends still further
when viewed in the universal framework of the economy of salvation. In this way
the Cana narrative expands into new dimensions which enhance Mary’s role in the
messianic work of salvation.
In the relationship of Mary to Jesus in His public ministry, a relationship
of the "woman" who collaborates with Him in His work of salvation, we recognize
the New Eve. The first Eve, through disobedience and pride in wishing to be like
God, disfigured the image of God in herself and became the instrumental cause of
her husband doing the same. Thus the whole human race was involved in sin and
death. Mary, on the contrary, with firm faith in Christ as Messias and Son of
God, submits completely to His will and that of the Father. She is thus made the
instrument in directing mankind back to God by belief in the messiaship of His
Son (and incipiently, at least, in His divinity) and by obedience to His will.
This submission to Christ through faith and obedience elevates men and disposes
them for the restoration of what was lost through the first Adam, influenced by
the first Eve. We have already seen how Mary’s faith and complete adherence to
God’s will disposed her to become the Mother of the Messias at Nazareth and the
Mother of redeemed humanity on Calvary.
The Savior’s use of a wedding feast to introduce His messianic work is an
appropriate and altogether fitting concrete expression of His own later teaching
concerning the king who prepared a wedding and its accompanying feast for his
son (Mt. 22, 1-13). The wedding in the parable is the marriage between
divinity and humanity in Christ. The manifestation of Christ’s glory to the
guests and the benefit to them of the beginnings of faith in Christ is the feast
or banquet. Again the symbol of the water jars for ritual purification is seen
by some authors as a type of the marriage feast of the Old Covenant which is no
longer able to supply its guests with refreshment, and is therefore to be
replaced by the wedding feast of the New Covenant. At this feast the Bridegroom
furnished an unlimited supply of the wine of new life. Christ is the source of
supply and Mary becomes the channel through which this new life flows.
The fullness, indeed the consummation of the Bridegroom’s love, for His
bride, the Church, occasions another banquet, a further development of the
first. At this banquet of the Last Supper Jesus gives to His guests the drink of
His own blood, supplied at the cost of His very life. It is the life-giving wine
that will never fail because it is His Blood which is shed for the life of the
Mary was not present at the banquet of the Last Supper. Presence at this
table was reserved to Christ’s priests. Her part in it, however, is soon to be
made clear, for just as her intercession obtained the miracle of the wine at
Cana, her presence at the foot of the Cross, and her share in Christ’s passion,
helped to obtain for all Christ’s followers the saving gift of His life-giving
Blood of the Eucharistic’ banquet held the evening before in anticipation of the
fruit of His passion and death on the morrow.
Through Mary, Christ’s miracle at Cana introduces to the world the beginning
of the public manifestation of His divinity which till then was hidden from the
world by the humanity
which Mary gave to Christ. This public manifestation also marks the beginning
of the revelation of the mystery of the union of divinity and humanity in
Christ, within the framework of the historic, yet also symbolic, occasion of the
wedding feast at Cana. The presence of Christ, God and Man, sanctified human
marriage and engendered what was destined to develop into the mystical marriage
between Christ and the Church through His sleep of death on the Cross. The
banquet of this marriage we have seen to be the Eucharistic feast of His body
Through the role of the Woman the personal marriage of Christ in the
Incarnation took place at the hour of Nazareth; at the hour of Cana the presence
and mediation of the Woman brought about the beginning of the public
manifestation of the mystery of Nazareth, and at the same time planted the seed
of the mystical marriage of Christ with mankind; at the hour of Calvary the
Woman is not only present at the consummation of Christ’s mystical marriage with
redeemed mankind through His saving death; she is not only a co-operator in
providing the Eucharistic banquet; indeed she is the first fruits of the
redemption, and as such becomes the Mother of all the redeemed. As this banquet
continues through the temporal life of the Church, the Woman continues to use
her intercession until the full and lasting manifestation of Christ’s glory
takes place when "the marriage of the Lamb" will have come and His spouse, the
Church triumphant, will have prepared herself "clothed in fine linen" of just
deeds, and all will rejoice to hear the welcome, "Blessed are they who are
called to the marriage supper of the Lamb," where the Mother of Jesus, and
indeed the Mother of all the just, will ever be (Ap. 19, 7-9).
REV. STEPHEN HARTDEGEN, O.F.M.,
Holy Name College,Washington, D.
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M. Brunet, Les noces de Cana, in ER 8 (1952) 9-23; C. Charlier,
Les noces de Cana, in BVC 4 (1953-1954) 81-86; 0. Cullmann, Les
sacrements dans l’évangile johannique (Paris, 1951) 37-40; P. Gächter, S.J.,
Maria im Erdenleben (Munich, 1953) 155-200; J. Jeremias, Jesus als der
Weltvollender (Gutersloh, 1930); R. Schnackenburg, Das erste Wunder
Jesu (Freiburg-i-Br., 1951) 46; P. Boismard, O.P., Du baptême a Cana
(Paris, 1956); II. Van den Busche, Het Wijnwonder te Cana, in CG 3
(1952) 1-33; D. G. Maeso, Una leccion de exegesis lingüistica sobre el pasaje
evangélico de las bodas de Caná, in CB 11 (1954) 352-364; L.
Deiss, Marie, fille de Sion (Paris, 1959) 216-226; B. L. Migliorini,
O.F.M., Annosa questione. "Nondum venit hora mea," in PM 31 (1956)
138-139; C. P. Ceroke, O.Carm., Jesus and Mary at Cana: Separation or
Association?, in TS 17 (1956) 25; J. Galot, S.J., Marie dans
l’évangile (Paris, 1958) 98-160.
2Ti emoi kai soi, gynai.
6Gächter, op. cit., 176.
8Ti emoi kai soi.
Wackernagel, Über einige antike Anredeformen (Göttingen, 1912)
10Cf. E. Power, "Quid, mihi et tibi, mulier? Nondum venit
hora mea," in VD 2 (1922) 130.
13Gachter, op. cit., 190.
14Galot, op. cit., 126.
15Oypö ëkei ë öra moy.
16Cf. Boismard. op. cit., 156f.; 3. Michl,
Bemerkungen zu Johannes 2:4, in Bibl 36 (1955) 492-509.