Sunday we celebrated the feast of the marriage at Cana. Saint John tells us that “the mother of Jesus was there” and that Jesus and His disciples were invited as well.
Despite the varying opinions of several fathers, I think Cardinal Baronius (who edited the Martyrlogy in the sixteenth century) offers the best answer as to whose wedding this was. It was not that of Saint John the Apostle, he says, as that supposition raises too difficult a question regarding the beloved Apostle’s virginity. In other words, if he were the groom, as some fathers alleged, he would have had to have been called to follow Christ from the very day of his wedding, leaving the marriage unconsummated. This seems unlikely, as the marriage feast was indeed a celebration, a huge one in fact, and by it Christ honored the holy state of matrimony. Baronius thinks that the groom was Saint Simon, Our Lord’s cousin, who is also called “the Cananean” in Matthew’s Gospel. He would later be called to the Apostleship by Christ along with his brothers, James the Less and Jude, who were the sons of Our Lady’s first cousin, Mary of Cleophas.
Then, too, we have another possibile candidate, if we are looking among the Twelve for the groom. That is Nathanael, also know by his Greek name, Bartholomew. Nathanael was also “from Cana of Galilee” were are told in the Gospel of John.
The fact that Our Lady was invited would indicate that the espoused were, if not relatives, certainly close friends. (That is my opinion.) Jesus, apparently, came to the feast separately than with His mother. He came with disciples. This was not long after His Baptism in the Jordan and His forty day fast in the desert. Andrew and Peter had already attached themselves to the Savior, as had Philip and Barthomew (Nathanael). Remember, it was Philip who came from Our Lord’s cousin John the Baptist to his friend Nathanael announcing that he had found the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth. John had just previously publicly testified to Jesus calling Him, “the Lamb of God who who taketh away the sin of the world.” Others among those early disciples of Christ may have been Our Lord’s “brethren” (kinfolk, cousins), James and Jude. Perhaps, too, were Our Lord’s nephews, James the Greater and John the Beloved himself, who were the sons of Our Lady’s niece, Mary Salome, daughter of Mary of Cleophas.
In any event, Our Lord had not yet worked any miracle before the wedding of Cana. Our Lady, feeling with sympathy, the embarrassment of the espoused couple over the depletion of the wine, came to her Son simply stating the fact. Then, with the authority of a mother — such a mother and such a Son — she told the waiters to “do whatever he tells you.” The water was then turned, at His command, into the most exquisite wine, a prefiguring of the Eucharist — the water of purification made way for the Wine, the Blood of salvation.
In his Sunday homily, our chaplain noted that the water jugs, which the Jews used for purification, were very large. At this wedding there were six of them, each holding possibly 150 gallons, although there is no way of knowing exactly what the Gospel’s “two or three measures apiece” amounted to. How much water then was turned into wine for this feast? Perhaps 750 gallons, the huge vessels being filled “to the brim” by Jesus’ command. One could guess, then, that there may have been a couple of thousand guests. No doubt the groom was wealthy because we are told that he had “servants.” No doubt, too, that there were a lot of servants. Just imagine the work involved pouring 150 gallons of water into six of these vast jugs. Of course, there had to have been a lot of wine left over, but we must remember that a Jewish wedding feast lasted about three days.
Our Lady was still pondering so many things in her heart before she asked her Son to perform this miracle. One of those things was her Son’s words to her when he was “lost” to His parents and teaching in the temple at twelve years of age, eighteen years before. “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” He asked His grieving mother and Saint Joseph when they found Him in His Father’s house.
I believe that Mary remembered these words on another occasion, when she met her Son carrying His cross to Calvary. And, perhaps, too, He said silently to her upon that sorrowful encounter as He gazed into her eyes, “Yes, now my hour is truly come; now I make all things new; now I am about the fulfillment of My Father’s business.” And Mary replied with her eyes: “Do whatever He [your Father] tells you.”