The result of the miracle at Cana is the first manifestation of Jesus’ glory and the consequent budding faith of his disciples. Today’s story, then, is above all about transformation: namely, the different dimension of reality that comes into being when Jesus is present, and when, as Mary tells the servants, people do whatever Jesus tells them. The transformation from water to wine is meant by John to signify the effect that Jesus can have on people’s lives, and can still have today. He came that we might have life, life in all its fullness.
Mary’s words are addressed to us: “Do whatever he tells you.” We all experience at one time or another that “the wine” in our life has run out. Life falls apart on us, in ways big and little. It is always a bitter moment to realize that it is beyond us to recover it, to replenish it. It is then that the mother of Jesus tells us simply: “Do whatever he tells you.”
But what does that mean? Typically we receive no dramatic directive from heaven of how to remedy a situation, no sudden strategic inspiration that can turn our life around. Rather, we can expect a simple, practical “word” addressed personally to us, such as in today’s Gospel: “Go fill some stone water jars and take them to the steward.” Or something as simple as what I’ve been hearing during unexpected and difficult moments these past few weeks: “Be still, and know that I am God.” This is a life-giving word not clearly aimed at fixing a specific problem but at changing me. Will I do “whatever” he tells me? Do I even have “ears to hear” in the first place?
It seems to me that Mary illustrates in this morning’s Gospel what is critical here. She knew better than anyone that her Son never meets us only “from without,” but always from within our deepest selves, within who we truly are. Like Mary, we must listen to Jesus, not as to someone who stands “outside of us” as an image of some sort, while we remain fragmentary and untouched in the deepest parts of ourselves. Rather, the Good News this morning is that every time he speaks to our hearts, and within our hearts, he manifests a moment when heaven is opened to us, a moment when the transforming power of God’s love bursts into our personal world – and like the disciples in today’s Gospel we consequently find ourselves coming to a deeper belief in Him. We are changed even more than the water was changed into the best of wines. Changed how? Fundamentally, as St. Paul tells the Corinthians, we come to know Him more truly as we are known by Him.