Monday, January 21, 2019


Did you ever run out of wine?  Fortunately, I have never had that disaster  occur.  In the Gospel today Mary says to Jesus: “They have no wine.”   Let’s look at that a bit.
          True, the wine ran short.  Oh well, big deal.  But usually St. John in his Gospel is talking on at least two levels.  I think St John wants us to hear something more than a catering faux pas.  There is something more going on with the comment.  “They have no wine.”   What does it mean to have no wine?               
          Today running short of wine would be a misfortune but not a life shattering event.   But for people in Jesus’ day wine was very important.  It was often safer to drink than the water.  More importantly, in the grinding monotony of peasant life wine was one of the few sources of stimulation and exhilaration.  To have no wine was not just a mistake in catering, it was a profound emptiness in life.  Mary, in speaking to Jesus, is not just talking about beverages, but about the quality of life.  “They have no wine.”   I think she is saying that these people are bereft of joy, of happiness, of any zest in life.
          Every day we meet people who have no wine:  no joy, no enthusiasm, no zest in their life.  People who plod through life, going through the motions, but no real joy, no happiness, no excitement, no commitment, even little interest.  In a deeper, spiritual and philosophical way, they have no wine.  And it sucks.  We see this in our country.  Americans are now more likely to die from an overdose of opiods than from a car crash.  Suicide rates are increasing.  People have no wine in their life: no joy, no purpose, no happiness.
          Sometimes we are like that.  We have no wine in our life.  And unfortunately we know many people at work, or school or in our own neighborhoods, and even our own families, that have no wine. 
This is not just a case of running out of something:  more profoundly Mary is telling her Son about the existential condition of the people.  They are without hope, or direction, or purpose, without joy.  They have no wine. 
          It is like the opposite of the little ditty by Hilaire Belloc, from early last century: 
Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!   

          Laughter and good red wine go together in a sunny and optimistic approach to life.  And these people, lamentably, “have no wine.” 
          Mary is not content with that.  She is not willing to continue this unhappy condition.   She tells her Son, Jesus, “they have no wine” and then leaves it up to Him.  His public mission begins with her intercession.  Well, Mom always has special privileges. 
          Then Mary says to the servants “Do whatever he tells you.”  These are the very last words of Mary recorded in the Bible or anywhere else.  We never hear from her again after this first miracle of Jesus.  But it is a great way to sum up and end.
          “Do whatever he tells you.”  Think about that.  It is WONDERFUL advice, in any situation.  “Do whatever he tells you.”  That is wonderful advice for you and you and me and everyone of us.  “Do whatever he tells you.” 
The source of Joy, the source of Peace, the source of full Life, the source of all we yearn and long for is Jesus.  He transforms six stone jars of water, each holding 20 to 30 gallons, into choice, fine wine!  That’s 120 to 180 gals!
          Let’s split the difference and call it 150 gallons.  Now that comes out to 758 bottles of wine.  More than 60 cases.  
          In other words, an abundance, on overflowing, of choice, delicious wine.  Jesus responds not in some small, adequate way, but with great, overflowing abundance.  And that is how Jesus responds to us with the gift of Life.  Not a small, adequate, OK portion, but an overwhelming abundance of LIFE!
          Truly He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. 
Mary intercedes for us just as she did at the wedding in Cana.  She knows as a Mother knows what are our deepest needs and desires.  She cares deeply for each of us.  And she intercedes for us.
          In turn she gives us really good advice today.  “Do whatever He tells you.”  That is the way to the fullness of Life.     God bless!

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