This is the homily I gave at the wedding of our daughter Vikky to Chris, on June 29, 2019
John 2 says that “There was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding.” In John’s gospel, Jesus’ first miracle was to transform water into wine, and he did this at a wedding reception. As one traditional ceremony puts it, “The Lord Jesus Christ honored marriage by his presence and first miracle at a wedding of Cana.”
Cana was a small village, and probably the whole town went to the wedding; it would have been the social event of the season. Now, Cana was a half-day’s walk from Nazareth, so Jesus and his disciples and his mother went there on foot. Maybe it was a cousin or friend of Mary who was getting married.
And, the wine ran out! (I should mention that the alcohol content of wine in those days was very low; you could get drunk on it, but it would take a real effort). How could this happen, that they ran dry? Well, in those days the wedding reception would go for seven full days, the whole week, morning, noon, and night. People would sleep where they could; the men would, as we say, crash on whatever sofas they could find. So, predicting the amount of food and wine for a seven-day reception was no small calculation. And this time, they miscounted and they ran out of wine! And so by changing water into wine, Jesus signaled that this wedding reception was important and must go on.
I find it astounding that Jesus, who was constantly active, always traveling, and who had a very short window of opportunity – three years – to do all of his work on earth, that he made the decision to take a whole week to walk to Cana and to say, Hold everything, this is important! This wedding, this reception, this party, this is all good, and right, and a joy. Jesus anticipates what the apostle Paul would write some years later in his letter to the Romans, that we must “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Rom 12:15).
There was instrumental music and singing and dancing. You saw old friends, made new ones, laughed, cried, told stories, and above all, honored marriage.
Christ calls us to be holy because it is the best way of life. But let us not fall into the trap of picturing Jesus as that grim fellow, who shows up at the wedding with volumes of rules and regulations to put a brake on the fun. In my imagination, he is the one who smiles at the stories, the one you hear laughing two tables over. And from his interaction with children in the gospels we can imagine him saying to the younger relatives, “Come over here and say hi to your Uncle Jesus! How have you been?”
Rabbi Jesus lived like that, and he invites us to do the same. Jesus is calling us to a life of joy and fulfillment and rightness with God and with each other.
“Jesus goes to a wedding – and has fun!” This post may seem controversial: well, my name is Gary Shogren, I have a doctorate in New Testament exegesis, and I approve this message