Daily Reflection
January 18th, 2004
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

So as to be more available to the graces of the liturgy’s readings, we might imagine Jesus holding a wine goblet after his having tasted its flavorful contents. He shakes his head with approval and delight. The stewards shake their heads in amazement at what they have just seen. The newly enlisted apostles do not make any gestures; they open their eyes just a little bit wider.


The Readings present us with a newness, a reversal from the usual. We are finished with salutations of “Happy New Year” when greeting or leaving other persons. We are settling down to live the new life brought to us at Jesus’ birth. 

We pray for our eyes to be opened, as were those of the Apostles, at the workings of God in our lives. They were new and he was new to them, but they had much to learn, as do we. We pray to be open to the changes within us. Grace changes our human water into living wine. God is always doing a “new thing” and we are God’s work of art; we pray to see that and accept that, and share it out like the fine wine Jesus offered the guests.


Before we begin walking with Jesus these next weeks and months of the Liturgical Year according to Luke’s account, we get a picture of Jesus according to John. In our First Reading, we hear from Isaiah who is speaking to and about the city of Jerusalem. The old city has been dis-graced by its infidelities and subsequent embarrassments by foreign invaders.

We hear the prophet proclaim that the Lord will give her a new name, actually several new names and new images which will reveal the steadfast love which God has always had for her. What was, will be something new. Jerusalem and so all of Israel with her will be known as not abandoned, but embraced, espoused and married. The old will become an historical fact; what God will make of her will become a precious jewel in the crown of God. Israel’s creation as a beloved nation was a new experience of God’s love. The prophet proclaims an even newer creation of Israel as “married” by the God who also calls her the “sought for.”

Next April ninth, on Good Friday, we will witness the “hour” or time of the great “glorification,” when Jesus pours out his life on the cross. In today’s Gospel, John has a proleptic scene which foretells the ending, here at the beginning. The “wedding” is not about marriage, but about something new, some change, some “beginning.”

John opens his Gospel with the three words which open the Book of Genesis, “In the Beginning.” This “wedding” is the first revelational gesture of Jesus and so is the “new beginning.” Creation, according to Genesis, took six days; there are six stone jars to be filled with water. In Genesis, the Creating God breathed over the waters and brought about the stones of creation. Jesus breathes over the water of chaos and the wine of life is revealed.

There is more. Mary asks Jesus to do something about this quite human condition; she stands waiting and watching, but his “hour” has not yet come. She will be standing, waiting and watching at the foot of the cross when his “hour” does arrive.  
This miracle has to do with changing chaos into order, but even more, it presents Jesus as the new “breath of God.” Jesus is the “new wine,” the new “creation” which is more than stone; he is compassion for the human condition of not having, being empty, needy. Mary as the “new Eve,” the Mother of Life, plays her part as did the “old Eve” in Genesis. Mary is saying to Jesus, “They have no real life.” The former Eve was pictured as offering a taste of what “real” life might be. Mary echoes the longings of the prophets for the “real” life, the “breath” of God. The “wine” which is offered to the headwaiter is tasted by him and is reckoned unusual. The usual way is good wine first, then inferior after folks have had more than a little. John is presenting Jesus as a late wine, but more fulfilling.

This story in John’s Gospel is a second Prologue, the first being his first nineteen verses. John will be presenting Jesus often as not a replacement of the older covenants, but a completion of them. As water gives life, wine gives life to life. Jesus will offer that life to the lives of the Woman at the Well, the Man Born Blind, Nicodemus, the Man at the Pool, Lazarus, and eventually and ultimately to the world from the fountain of the cross. This will be his “hour” or time of Jesus’ greatest revelation of his infinite love for our human condition of trying to live on water alone.

We still do not have enough wine and these next weeks of liturgical prayer will lead us closer to the source. God is still breathing over our chaos and Jesus is still offering the wine of life to us. That life is meant to be lived with the sober sense that our lives are sacraments meant to be poured out, distributed as wine was offered to the guests. We are the stewards and Jesus is the wine. These are our drinking days.

“The Lord has prepared a feast for me - given wine in plenty for me to drink.” Ps. 23, 5


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