The Traditional Catholic Liturgy

Adapted from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger

The Second Sunday after Epiphany

Wedding Feast of Cana

The third Mystery of the Epiphany shows us the completion of the merciful designs of God upon the world, at the same time that it manifests to us, for the third time, the glory of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Star has led the soul to faith; the sanctified Waters of the Jordan have conferred purity upon her; the Marriage-Feast unites her to her God. We have been considering, during the Octave of Epiphany, the Bridegroom revealing Himself to His Spouse, the Church; we have heard Him calling Her to come to Him from the heights of Libanus; and now, after having enlightened and purified Her, He invites Her to the heavenly feast, where She is to receive the Wine of His Divine Love.

A Feast is prepared (John 2); it is a Marriage-Feast; and the Mother of Jesus is present, for it is just that, having cooperated in the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, She should take part in all that Her Son does, and in all the favors He bestows on His elect. But, in the midst of the Feast, the wine fails. Wine is the symbol of Charity or Love, and Charity had failed on the earth; for the Gentiles had never tasted its sweetness; and as to the Synagogue, what had it produced but wild grapes (Is. 5: 2)? The True Vine is our Jesus, and He calls Himself by that name (John 15: 1). He alone could give that wine which gladdeneth the heart of man (Ps. 103: 15); He alone could give us that chalice which inebriateth (Ps. 22: 5), and of which the Royal Psalmist prophesied.

Mary said to Jesus: They have no wine. It is the office of the Mother of God to tell Him of the wants of men, for She is also their Mother. But Jesus answers Her in words which are seemingly harsh: Woman, what is it to Me and to Thee? My hour is not yet come. The meaning of these words is that, in this great mystery, He was about to act, not as the Son of Mary, but as the Son of God. Later on, the hour will come when, dying upon the Cross, He will do a work, in the presence of His Mother, and He will do it as Man, that is, according to that human nature which He has received from Her. Mary at once understands the words of Her Son, and She says to the waiters of the Feast, what She is now ever saying to Her children: Do whatsoever He shall say to you.

Now, there were six large water-jars of stone there, and they were empty. The world was then in its Sixth Age, as St. Augustine and other Holy Doctors tell us. During these six ages, the earth had been awaiting its Savior, Who was to instruct and redeem it. Jesus commands these water-jars to be filled with water; and yet water does not suit the Feast of the Spouse. The figures and prophecies of the ancient world were this water, and until the opening of the Seventh Age, when Christ, Who is the Vine, was to be given to the world, no man had contracted an alliance with the Divine Word.

But, when the Emmanuel came, He had but to say, Now draw out, and the water-jars were seen to be filled with the wine of the New Covenant, the wine which had been kept to the end. When He assumed our human nature—a nature weak and unstable as water—He effected a change in it; He raised it up even to Himself, by making us partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1: 4); He gave us the power to love Him, to be united with Him, to form that one Body, of which He is the Head, that Church of which He is the Spouse, and which He loved from all eternity, and with such tender love, that He came down from Heaven to celebrate His nuptials with Her.

St. Matthew, the Evangelist of the Humanity of Our Lord, has received from the Holy Ghost the commission to announce to us the Mystery of Faith by the star; St. Luke, the Evangelist of Jesus' Priesthood, has been selected, by the same Holy Ghost, to instruct us in the Mystery of the Baptism in the Jordan; but the Mystery of the Marriage-Feast was to be revealed to us by the Evangelist John, the Beloved Disciple. He suggests to the Church the object of this third Mystery of Epiphany, by this expression: This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and He MANIFESTED His glory (John 2: 11). At Bethlehem, the Gold of the Magi expressed the Divinity of the Babe; at the Jordan, the descent of the Holy Ghost and the voice of the Eternal Father proclaimed Jesus (known to the people as a carpenter of Nazareth) to be the Son of God; at Cana, it is Jesus Himself that acts, and He acts as God, for, says St. Augustine, He Who changed the water into wine in the water-jars could be no other than the same Who, every year, works the same miracle in the vine. Hence it was that, from that day, as St. John tells us, His disciples believed in Him, and the Apostolic College began to be formed.

O the wonderful dignity of man! God has vouchsafed, says the Apostle, to show the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which had no claim to, nay, were unworthy of such an honor. Jesus bids the waiters fill them with water and the water of Baptism purifies us; but, not satisfied with this, He fills these vessels, even to the brim, with that heavenly and new Wine, which was not to be drunk save in the kingdom of His Father (Rom. 9; 23). Thus, divine Charity, which dwells in the Sacrament of Love, is communicated to us; and that we might not be unworthy of the espousals with Himself, to which He called us, He raises us up even to Himself. Let us, therefore, prepare our souls for this wonderful union, and, according to the advice of the Apostle, let us labor to present them to our Jesus with such purity as to resemble that chaste Virgin, who was presented to the spotless Lamb (2 Cor. 11: 2).

The Communion Antiphon recalls once more the miracle of the changing of the water into wine. This was only a dim figure of that wondrous transformation which is accomplished on our altars—only a symbol of that divine Sacrament, the food of our souls whereby, in an unspeakable way, is realized our union with God:

The Lord saith: Fill the water-jars with water and carry to the chief steward of the feast. When the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, he said to the bridegroom: Thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of His miracles did Jesus before His disciples.

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