What starts in today’s Gospel with Our Lord attending a wedding banquet turns into a sign that the Lord’s courtship with Israel has begun in earnest. The transformation of the water into wine is the first sign Our Lord performs in John’s Gospel. John doesn’t speak of miracles as much as he speaks of signs: each sign is an opportunity for Israel to put her faith in the Lord. As today’s First Reading reminds us, nuptial symbolism is very strong in the mind of Israel as the way to understand the joy her salvation will bring. For Isaiah, any checkered past of Israel, any past disgrace will be swept away by the Lord not only wedding himself to her by way of concession, but with the delight of young fiancees in love. That wedding is definitively consummated between him and the Church, with the wedding banquet awaiting us in Heaven.
Wedding celebrations in Jesus’ time were prolonged affairs with abundant wine to represent the joy of the wedding and also the future joy of when the Lord would be wed to his spouse Israel. When it seems today that the joy is going to prematurely run out, Our Lord through transforming the water into wine not only extends the joy, but makes it an even greater joy. All the things we enjoy in life that are good and holy for us will experience a similar transformation. The huge jars of water represent penance, conversion, purification, and baptism, everything that shows our contrition for our checkered past and our desire to change. Our Lord takes that penance and purification and converts it into pure joy, just as he turns the water into fine wine.
Our Lord envisions his relationship with us, whether as Church or as individuals, as one of intimate and joyful love. If we want to be captivated and purified by him in order to achieve a greater joy let’s follow the Blessed Mother’s advice today to do whatever he tells us.
Readings: Isaiah 62:1–5; Psalm 96:1–3, 7–10; 1 Corinthians 12:4–11; John 2:1–11.