Some of you may remember TV commercials in the late 1970s and early 1980s with actor/director Orson Wells speaking for Paul Masson wine. Well’s tagline for those spots was “we will sell no wine before it is time.” The point of the line was stressing that Masson was not simply rushing out a product but that only when the time was right, when everything was ready, would a wine be released for sale. Today, with the wedding feast at Cana, the headwaiter is shocked because the best wine has been saved for a later time. Why? Because the time is right; the time is now.
This Sunday’s Gospel reading of the wedding feast at Cana is traditionally considered the Lord Jesus’s first miracle. Once again we find the theme of epiphany, of revealing or making known, in the Gospel this weekend, a theme that will continue over the next several Sundays. With that in mind, when we look at this Gospel selection, we may be naturally inclined to say that this passage in John is about marriage; yes, but to a lesser extent. Jesus is at the wedding feast with Mary his mother and his disciples. We can easily deduce that he sees marriage as something good and, naturally, our Lord in his plan of salvation raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament, but there is something more here and its all about the wine.
There are two details about the water made wine that we need to note as recounted for us by John: its quality and its volume. As with any miracle, there are two realities at work: the actual miracle that takes place and a greater truth that the Lord is making known to us through it. It is clear from the testimony of the headwaiter that the wine made by the Lord is good, very good, and while other good wines have been served, surprisingly, and even better wine is offered later on. This wine is offered in superabundance, 120 to 130 gallons if you do the math in John’s account. That is MORE than enough wine for the celebration. Everyone can be satisfied without any worry that this new wine might run dry.
This miracle of the water made wine shows us that a special time has come. Now is the time of the Messiah. The quality and abundance of the new wine tells us that, while God’s grace has been made manifest in times past, it is being made manifest again in a new, wonderful, and abundant way in Jesus Christ. The time of the Messiah does not refer to the time only when Jesus walked on the earth. That time is now!
Here in the early days of 2019, this is the time of the Messiah and every day, month, and year will be until his glorious return. The grace of God continues to be offered to each and every heart freely and in superabundance. These are the days of redemption. Heaven has been flung open to everyone that will hear the word of Christ and strive to keep it, and the Lord will grant us the fullness of his grace to help us along the way.
Now is the time for the wine of God’s grace. He is lovingly and generously offering it to each and every one of us. Drink freely!
Father Christopher House is the Rector of the Cathedral and serves in various leadership roles within the diocesan curia, namely Chancellor and Vicar Judicial.