I was thinking about the divine art of wine making this week. At one point it was all the rage and it seemed like everyone, well almost everyone was doing it. In fact, my father and mother-in-law got good enough at it that they made all the wine for a family wedding when the youngest of my sisters-in-law was married. We know that wine, regular or sparkling including champagne are used to mark special occasions. As kids, it was a big deal to be able to get a sip of wine at a special meal. This of course included First Communion when one participated in the Eucharist for the first time.
The Gospel this week (John 2:1-12) is a reversal of sorts from Luke when at Christmas time, there was no room for the Holy Family in the local Inn and we were challenged to make room for Christ in our lives. The reversal? We experience the grace of God in watching what Jesus does to help a newly married couple in a place that is not home for him. By making wine available, Jesus did an awful lot – certainly more than just keep the party going. If you dig deeper in John’s Gospel, one of the things you discover is that wine, new wine is analogous to new life. Without wine there is no party. Without God’s grace there is no life! So, if you want to look at it this way, Jesus’ wedding gift was an abundance of wine, and therefore of life itself.
Bringing the food to help sustain the celebration was your gift to the newly wedded couple. It was expected that not just the couple, but the entire community would involve themselves in making sure their was enough to be eaten and drank over the course of the week of the wedding feast. Therefore, running out of wine was not just an embarrassment to the couple and their families, it was a sign of failure of some kind on the part of the community to display hospitality to one another. There is a necessity of not just a shared hospitality (its nice to take something to the wedding to share) but also of a shared responsibility for one another.
It does in fact remind me of the times that I was at feasts amongst different First Nations and their traditions. This included supporting the family and the tribe at feasts, giving gifts and money to support the reason for the feast – weddings, funerals and so on. You have at least something to make sure that you could be seen giving so that when the time came, people would share with you, especially in times of need. In giving then, you would build up the honour of your name and the honour of your family and tribe.
Jesus, in giving the wine, lifted a burden and in doing so showed us who he was and why he was here among us. Many will make a big deal out of the 160 to 180 gallons of wine. Isn’t that great, isn’t that wonderful. But in doing so, something more powerful began to happen. Those who were following him, those who were his family and his disciples put their faith and trust in him to provide what is needed. That is an important idea. Too many of us live like what we have are the dregs and that we are at the bottom of our last barrel. This means that the party and life are over.
Bringing out the best later gives hope that the best is yet to come. Receiving grace in the moment brings joy and happiness. Plus it brings hope to the future because of who we want to spent the future with: Father, Son and Spirit and because of who they are to us. That is the divine art of wine making
And did you notice? All this happened on a Tuesday! Mary gave directions to the servants to obey her son and they did, right to the last drop. They filled each vessel to the brim in anticipation of what Jesus was going to do next. God revealed himself to the Israelites on a Tuesday on Mt. Sinai and revealed himself to the Church at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Will we make room for him and will we take in his life that we would live for him?