Daily Office Readings – Gospel (John 2:1-12)
Today’s gospel reading is about the wedding in Cana. I’ve always marveled at this bit of scripture. First, when younger, that Jesus turned water into wine. Then, as I got older, and I started drinking wine myself, I became amazed at how much normal human behavior is found in this story.
One of the first things that sticks out is that when the party runs out of wine, Mary turns to her son and with the air of a mother who knows exactly what her son is capable of, says, “They have no wine.” Such a simple statement, but it says “Son, this is a celebration. People should be merry and enjoying themselves. But they’re out of wine.” Since weddings normally took several days (5-7), running out of wine was sure to end the merriment in a hurry. It also implies, “Son, help them out. I know you can.” Just a normal conversation between the Son of God and his mother, you know.
The other thing that jumps out at me is the conversation between the steward and the bridegroom. The steward is amazed at the fantastic taste of the wine that Jesus produced from the water, and says to the bridegroom, “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.”
Years ago, in a seminary class required by my denomination, we were celebrating the last day of class. The alcohol provided by the professor certainly wasn’t of any poor quality, but as we spent time talking, he took a small group of us over to the kitchen and asked one of the students to look under the sink, behind the pipes, on a box, because that’s where he had “the good stuff.” The student pulled out a bottle of Scotch that we only later realized cost $1500 per bottle. The professor then produced some glasses and asked us all to pour ourselves half a shot, which we all happily did. Then we savored the flavor as we continued talking. None of us paid attention to the bottle sitting on the counter. Apparently, the alcohol had started to run out, and several of our classmates had clearly had too much to drink. One came over, and seeing the bottle, called his friends over and poured messy shots from the bottle, spilling Scotch on the counter as he filled the glasses. We were horrified. One of us went to grab the bottle to hide it again, but the professor just sighed, and said, “Leave it. It’s gone now.”
If ever there was an argument for serving the good stuff at the beginning of an event, this would be it. Those of us who had had the drink with the professor knew what we were getting, and could savor both the flavor of the Scotch and the generosity of our host as we sipped from this expensive bottle. The others would never even know what they had been drinking, as they were already drunk and engrossed in their own lives and conversations, paying no heed to what an incredible gift they had received.