Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (John 2:7-11)
Today’s Gospel lesson is the familiar story of the wedding at Cana — Jesus’ first miracle. This morning many will hear jokes about the strong influence of Jewish mothers. They will learn about the tradition of wedding parties that last for days and the importance of generous hospitality.
As I meditated on this scripture this week the Holy Spirit offered another way into this passage. Consider that we are the stone water-jars – both ‘we’ individually and ‘we’ collectively as the body of Christ. Already we have followed Jesus into the Jordan. We have repented. We have found our way to turn back toward God (again and again, for me) and, because he is a God of infinite mercy and grace, we find ourselves enfolded in his love.
Now the work begins. We are commanded to fill the jars with water, to not be stingy but rather to fill them to the brim. We are to practice the disciplines our faith gives us — praying, studying, worshipping, serving – and to do the next right thing as best we can discern it. These words are for us as individuals but, even more so, they are for us as a community of faith. We are to participate actively in our sanctification as a church. We are called to work together, to fill our jars with water, to constantly assess our actions, and to listen to the Spirit. We are called to make course corrections. Is what we are doing life-giving? Is it merciful, welcoming, loving? Is it just? Does it stack up against Christ’s call to us as laid out in Holy Scripture?
The beauty of the work of filling the jars is this: We aren’t responsible for the results so much as we are responsible for the action. As Thomas Merton reminds us, we have no idea where we are going but we can trust that the desire to please God does in fact please God.
So we hunker down joyfully. We fill the jars with water as best we can. And we trust that Jesus will transform us, not just individually but as a community. In this way — by this example — others will come to believe.