REFLECTIONS ON JOHN 2:1-12 - JEN MATIAS, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY
John 2: 1-12
“Woman,[a] why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.
The first miracle that Jesus performed was turning water into wine. I used to joke about this miracle with my grandmother, as she lived her entire life without enjoying a glass of anything fermented. After reaching adulthood, when I tried to convince her that she might enjoy it and even Jesus approves, as evidenced by this miracle in particular, she would smirk and say that in the lesser known but more accurate accounts, he actually turned the water into grape juice.
When I’ve read this passage in the past, or heard a sermon reflecting on it, it has always been with the emphasis on the counter-cultural nature of Jesus’s wine being even better than the one served first. Today, however, it’s not the wine but rather the water that makes an impression. The jars that were filled with water were used for cleansing. It seems poetic and symbolic and purposeful. Each jar held 20 or 30 gallons each, and there were six of them. As a Kindergarten teacher, I come equipped with the math skills to deduce that it took the servants many trips to fill, carry, and methodically pour nearly 180 gallons of water that day. But they did, because a woman told them to listen to her son and do what he told them to do. They did, because they were desperate, and he was their only hope. And Jesus exceeded everything they could have hoped for...
This past year more than any, I think we all understand a little bit better what it is to be desperate for hope. I know I do. Hope for an end to a pandemic. Hope for all people to be treated fairly and equally. Hope for peace amidst what seem to be new tensions every day.
In the face of problems that seem insurmountable, we are called to continue on with the work entrusted to us even when we don’t yet understand why. We trust that even the smallest thing, done with great love, can make a difference. And so we continue pouring, over and over again, believing that Christ can cleanse us and transform our collective desperation into salvation sweeter than anything we could imagine.
Lord, help us to be faithful in whatever we find before us today. Empower us to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly every step of the way. We trust you to be our hope, and to work through us today. Amen.
~Jen Matias, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.