Does this passage make more sense as a treatise on Marriage, or on the Eucharist? Most Scripture scholars dismiss the former, noting that the wedding feast serves as merely the setting for Jesus’ first miracle (or “sign”). On the other hand, the transformation of water into wine does not happen at Mass.
I might stand more on a view of “neither.” The evangelist does not emphasize the Eucharist in his Last Supper narratives. I don’t believe there is an explicit mention of marriage in John’s gospel. On the other hand, why not accept the reading for what it is and place what it teaches in context of the wedding liturgy:
There was a wedding in Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servers,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told them,
“Fill the jars with water.”
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
“Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
(although the servants who had drawn the water knew),
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
“Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now.”
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.
This passage is long and rich. One’s attention is caught by the exchange between Mary and Jesus. One might focus on the miracle as an example of God’s grace. One can also nod as Jesus is the agent for breaking with tradition in a good way.
What I’m attracted to in this Gospel story is the inspiration of belief, and not just an all-out belief, but as John describes it, a beginning of belief.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Engaged couples almost always have more on their mind than faith. Sometimes, faith occupies a very meager portion of their lives. What can we hope for? Quite a lot I think.
We can encourage engaged couples to be open to the miracles, the interventions of God, in their lives. How did they meet? How did they overcome obstacles? How did they find the good wine when they thought the best had already been served and drunk? If a couple is open to the power of Christ’s grace in their lives, and start looking for it in little ways, perhaps that will put them in the boat with the early disciples, perhaps they will “(begin) to believe in him.”
And that would be a very good thing.