Readings: Isaiah 62:1-5; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-11
We’ve been listening to these readings for decades: recall that water fills John’s Gospel. From John’s baptism, in the first chapter, to today’s Gospel in the next; from the end of Chapter Three when Jesus and John are both baptizing, on to Jesus at Jacob’s well in Samaria, explaining the water of life to the Samaritan woman. In Chapter Six, Jesus walks on the water and in the next chapter, Jesus discourses in the Temple on the rivers of Living Water. Three chapters later he has the man born blind wash in the waters of Siloam to restore his sight and at the Last Supper, Jesus will pour out water to wash the feet of his disciples. At his death on the cross, water will pour from his side and after the resurrection, in Chapter Twenty-one, Jesus will meet Peter and some of the other apostles along the shore as they fish in the Sea of Tiberias.
In our world, in our global climate crisis, water is as crucial and precious as it was in the parched Israel of Jesus’ day. Just think of the fires in rainless California at the end of this past year. Water can make all the difference between survival and unexpected death, even in our technologically controlled–and abused–world.
Do you need me to explain water to you? Recall your own experience with the water you wash in, swim in, sail upon, cook with or that rains upon you; the waters of oceans, gutters, streams or reservoirs. Recall water as represented in poetry or fiction, in scientific studies, in painting or music. Isn’t water a worthy vehicle for revealing Jesus unique mission and his unfathomable identity?
John’s account of the Last Supper does not include the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the wine: his readers already know that from Matthew, Mark and Luke or Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. But he dramatized the Eucharist when Jesus washes the disciples’ feet and explains the Communion by his great discourse at the Last Supper about the unity of Christ’s followers in the unity of the Father and the Son.
And just as the Bread of Life is elaborated earlier in Chapter Six of John’s Gospel when Jesus multiplies the loaves in the desert, so the wine is anticipated in today’s Gospel at this wedding celebration. Could the Eucharist be no more than the Divine presence objectified, kept under lock and key? Or is it primarily a celebration that manifests a Person still impacting the course of our lives, still disrupting our complacency, still drawing us to become who we really could be? If celebrating it is as serious a commitment to the community of believers as a marriage, shouldn’t it also brim over with joy, at the Lord’s manifestation, like a wedding?