Mary, First on the Guest List

Having recently celebrated one of my favorite feasts, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, I was reflecting on stories about Mary, the Mother of God. While Luke’s gospel focuses on the call of Mary to be the Mother of God and the subsequent events related to Jesus’ birth, John’s gospel introduces Mary at the wedding feast at Cana. What I find interesting in the Cana event is that Mary is mentioned first, while the reference to Jesus seems almost an afterthought: “The mother of Jesus was present. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited.” Would we have the miracle of water transformed into wine, if Mary hadn’t been invited, if she hadn’t told the chief steward “Do whatever he tells you”? And what if Jesus had not been added to the guest list?

There are symbolic levels to this story. First, the wedding couple are spared from embarrassment. On a deeper level the miracle symbolizes the abundance of God’s favor. A couple hundred gallons of “choice wine” means more than a “nice save” on Jesus’ part. Rather, the stored water symbolizes, according to Thomas Keating, “the old Adam, of solidarity in human incompletion and sin.”  The miraculous wine points to the “refreshment, enthusiasm and exhilaration that characterize the fruits of the Spirit.” If we consider ourselves as guests in Cana, we see in the miracle “Christ’s union with the human family, a marriage that is consummated in the Eucharist and that transports the guests into the New Creation.”

We are incorporated into Christ; we are the Body of Christ. The wedding feast at Cana gives us a glimpse of the spiritual marriage of Christ with human nature and with each of us. That’s quite a wedding gift!

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