58. THE NEW WINE. Do what he tell you

Do what he tell you

bendicion 0011. Gospel experience makes new everything: new creation, new birth, new bread, new temple, new priesthood. The wine is new too. After the call to the first disciples and three days after the meeting with Philip and Natanael, Jesus assists to a wedding at Cana in Galilee (Jn 2).  The wedding is celebrated according to the costumes and habits of Jewish tradition. It is a familiar and private business. It does not take place in the synagogue. Nevertheless, like everything is Israel, it has a religious dimension that includes prayer and blessing (see Gn 24 and Tb 7, 9,10). Among the guests is Jesus´ mother and also is Jesus with his disciples. In that wedding the new wine of the Gospel is served. What does this mean?
2. The passage can not be taken literally. Its true sense is deeper. There are symbols that we must interpret and a signal from the Gospel that we can live. So well, be what it be, in that wedding something important was missing: “ As the wine of the wedding ran out, Jesus´ mother tells him: They have no wine left” What can this mean? The wine is the symbol of feast (Is 25, 6), of joy (Ps 104, 15), of love. The bride in the Song of Songs  says: “Your love is more delightful than wine” (1, 2). “I would give you spiced wine to drink” (8, 2). Besides, the wine is symbol of God´s  wisdom: “I spread out my branches like a vine; these are Glory and Grace and my blossoms are riches and glory.” (Sir 24, 17; see Jn 1, 17). In a special way, the wine is Gospel’s  symbol. Jesus offers the true knowledge about God,  “God´s gift” (Jn 4, 10). According to Origenes (185-254), “before Jesus the Scripture was water, but from Jesus time on it has become wine for us” (In Iohannem 13, 62)

3. Mary feels the need: they have no wine. “What does it mind to me and to you, woman? My time did not arrive yet.” Jesus´ answer reflects some tension, which also appears in other parts (see Mk 3, 33), seems to reject a request that he considers inappropriate. The novelty brought by Jesus has its time, that he does not desire to advance, a time that has its risk. Nevertheless, his mother goes ahead and she tells the servants: “do what he tell you” The problem can be solved, the servants must cooperate.

4. The place of the wedding seems appropriate for the celebration: “There were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washing, each holding twenty or thirty gallons” The jars are, like the old tradition, practically immovable, of stone (see Ez 36, 26), and with capacity for many gallons each one. Its purpose is the Jews purification. As you know, Pharisees and scribes reproach Jesus: “Your disciples eat with impure hands, id est, not washed”, “the Jews do not eat without having washed their hands up to the elbow, seized to the tradition of the ancient” (Mk 7, 1 – 5) Well, the jars are empty. It is not a question of hygiene only. It is a moral question. The continuous need of purification comes from a conscience of impurity, of indignity, created by the tradition. This obsession about human indignity appears, sometimes with the practice of the confession before the wedding. The new Wedding Ritual (1990) recommends the couple to receive in the preparation, if it is necessary, the sacrament of Penitence (N. 18)

5. Jesus tells them: “Fill the jars with water”. And they filled them up. Now, the one who wants to wash himself can do it. When asking to fill the jars, Jesus indicates that what he minds is the true purification. But he does not do it with water that, like the Law, stays out, he makes it with wine that enlivens the heart. He changes the water into wine “Take it out now, and carry it to the main steward” Surprised by the quality of the wine and ignoring its precedence, he says the groom: “Everybody serves the good wine first, and, when they are drunk, the lower quality. But you have kept the good wine up to now”. The main steward acknowledges that now the wine is good, but he does not know where it comes from, believing that it comes from the groom’s wine cellar and he does not understand why he has not taken it out before.

6. The disciples perceive the signal: “So, in Caná of Galilee, Jesus began to deliver his signals. And he manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him”. The disciples perceive what Jesus contributes in that wedding. The signal keeps being present. We can celebrate a wedding with the old wine, that is not good and that runs out in the middle of the banquet. We can see ourselves sent to the “jars of he purifications”, that perhaps is necessary to fill with water. Finally, we can see the transformation of the water of tradition into the wine of the Gospel.
7. This first signal of Jesus already denounces the old institutions. The Gospel’s  new wine has a devastating effect upon the old wineskin, it blows out the old skins. Jesus says it: “No-one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined”, “instead new wine must be poured into new wineskins” (Lk 5, 37 – 38). Jesus changes the water of the tradition into the wine of the Gospel. The old institutions do the contrary.

8. It is not by chance, that the purification of the temple, a symbol of the old religious order, is in the same chapter. The old temple is denounced: “Do not make a market out of the my father’s house” His disciples remember that it is written: “The zeal for your house devours me” (Ps 69). The Jews tell him: “Which signal do you show us to behave like that”. It is to say, with what authority do you make this? Really, the old temple is not only denounced, but also substituted. The new temple is Jesus´ body: “sacrifices and offerings you do not want, but you have prepared me a body… Here I am to make your will” (Ps 40). Jesus answers to the Jews: “Destroy this temple and I will raise it in three days”. Jesus talks about the temple of his body. The denounce of the old temple has a price. They will destroy the temple of his body, but he will raise it “in three days”: “When he resurrected from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had told that, and the believed the Scriptures and also the words said by Jesus”.

9. Fasting is an additional example of the old religious order. When the Pharisees and the scribes harass him because his disciples do not fast, Jesus tells them: “You cannot make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom  is with them, can you? But those days are coming, and when the bridegroom is taken from them, at that time they will fast.” (Lk 5, 34 – 35). We are invited to a wedding banquet and the party poopers do not understand it. The Gospel is a new dress, that can not be used to mend the new one. It is a new wine that bursts the old wineskins. Nevertheless, the Gospel new wine is not pleasant for those who prefer the Law old wine. For them the old one seems better (5, 36 – 39)

10. As far as the marriage is concerned, the first Christians marry like everybody, but “in the Lord” (1 Co 7, 39), they embrace the life that is born and do not commit adultery “They marry with everybody; as everybody they procreate children, but they do not expose those who are born. They lay down common table, but not bed” (To Diogneto 5, 6 – 7). Tertulian (about 160 – 220) proclaims the grace to marry in the Lord: “How can we be able of acclaiming the happiness of such a marriage; a marriage that the Church joins, that the offering confirms, that the blessing signals, that the angels announce, that the Father ratifies?” (Ad uxorem II 8, 6.7.9)

* Dialogue: Do we understand the passage? Do we interpret the symbols? Do we perceive the signal from the Gospel? Do we like the new wine?
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