To listen to today’s homily, select the audio below:
Cana and Nazareth, two small towns in Galilee, a mile or so apart, play a large role in Jesus’ early life and the beginning of his mission. They weren’t thought much of in Jesus’ day. Nathaniel’s remark, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” applies to Cana too.
Nazareth was situated on top of a mountain in upper Galilee; Cana was down closer to the plain of Esdraelon. The couple whose wedding Jesus and his mother attended likely came from a farm family, perhaps they were relations, perhaps only friends. It was a small town wedding. That’s all.
Yet, John’s gospel calls the miracle Jesus performed there, turning water into wine, the first “sign” of the promised kingdom to come. (John 2, 1-12) In John’s gospel “signs” are usually big miracles, like the raising of Lazarus from the dead or the cure of the man born blind. The miracle of water turned into wine doesn’t seem to measure up to signs like that.
What would have happened at Cana if there were no miracle that day? Well, there would be a family embarrassment, of course, but it would soon be forgotten.
Yet, this is the first sign of God’s kingdom coming, John says, and it happens in a small town for a couple whose names we don’t know. Could the miracle worked in Cana be a sign of God’s great love for nameless places like that and unknown people like them everywhere?
God loves everyplace, everything, everybody, small though they may be. God delights in the Canas of this world and the people living in them. Jesus not only gifted the wedding with wine but stayed for the feast.
Our reading from Isaiah today describes God as a bridegroom taking lowly Israel as a bride:
“No more shall men call you ‘Forsaken’
or your land ‘desolate’.
But you shall be called ‘ My delight’
and your land ‘espoused’
for the Lord delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your builder shall marry you,
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.”
Words fulfilled when Jesus came to the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. His first sign.