The Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C
Isaiah 62: 1-5
Psalm 36: 5-10
1 Corinthians 12: 1-11
John 2: 1-11
Several years ago I found myself in Cana of Galilee. I was there with a group of pilgrims from St. George’s College. We weren’t there for a wedding, but we did go to the church where the wedding of Cana is remembered. I must confess, I wasn’t impressed. The town doesn’t have much to commend itself, at least not the part I saw. The church isn’t all that old, just over 100 years, but it is reputedly built on a fourth century church which is built on a first century synagogue. In spite of modern day Cana, and my not being very impressed with it, it is easy to imagine Jesus, together with his mother Mary and his disciples there in the village for the wedding. Cana isn’t far from Nazareth, in fact it’s just on the other side of the hill about 9 miles from where Nazareth is located. I am sure that Jesus must have known Cana well. In fact as a young boy out exploring it would have been easy to walk back and forth between to the two villages. He would have been known in Cana, and probably related to some of the people who lived there. So it is not at all hard to imagine him being invited to this particular wedding. The bride or groom, or both, could very well have been a friend, a cousin or certainly an acquaintance.
There’s a rich, very dense, chewy cake called pan forte that is an Italian specialty, especially in Tuscany. The version from Siena requires 17 different ingredients, one for each of the 17 contrade, or sections of the city. Honey, sugar, spices, fruits, nuts, flour. The pleasure is in the sheer complexity of this very dense confection, usually served with coffee for dessert, or even for breakfast. Pan forte.
Today we have the pan forte, the “strong bread”, of Gospel stories: the wedding feast at Cana. We have Jesus, the mother of Jesus, the disciples, the wedding guests, the servants, the steward of the feast, the happy couple, the parents and family of the newlyweds. It’s the beginning of a life together; and, indeed, new life could be conceived in the womb of a young mother this very night. And we have water, wine, water turned into wine, plenty of food, music and dancing, surely. It’s the “third day”. There’s the hint of some difficult mother/son dynamics. His hour has not yet come. “It most certainly has,” she might have said. “Do what he tells you.” The glory of Jesus is revealed; the disciples believe. It’s his first “sign”, as John puts it. Do have a look at the wonderful Coptic icon here with Jesus in the claret-red garment and his very pleased mother beside him.