Wedding at Cana of Galilee

21 January is the feast of the wedding at Cana of Galilee, the account of which is found in John 2:1-11.

It seems significant that our Lord chose for His “beginning of signs” to be at a wedding feast. Throughout the Old Testament we see Israel portrayed as the unfaithful bride; God continually pursuing her, lavishing His love upon her, and yet she seeks time and again that which does not satisfy, that which is lesser, though the best is being offered to her. “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2). And also here, at this wedding of Cana, we see that the wine had run out - the joys of this world had provided satisfaction but only up till a point; the world offers to us its best first and once we are hooked its ugliness begins to be revealed.Wedding at Cana

And all that was left for those at this wedding were six empty water-pots “according to the manner of purification of the Jews" - water-pots which had held water for external cleansing, but could do nothing to cleanse the hearts of the people. And this was a reminder that although they had received the Law through Moses, it did not have the power to renew them - they were awaiting the One who would fulfil the Law.

“She decked herself with her earrings and jewellery, And went after her lovers; But Me she forgot,” says the Lord. “Therefore, behold, I will allure her…“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And you shall know the Lord.” (Hosea 2:14-20)

In this beginning of signs, our Lord wishes to tell us that He, because of His love, has come to us to restore His marriage covenant with us. He is enough to satisfy our souls. He is enough to supply all our needs. He comes to give us that joy which is ever new and does not run out - offering to us “that which is best until we one day enjoy the finest blessings in the eternal kingdom” (Warren Wiersbe). He comes to purify us from inside, and more than that, to restore our nature. He is the fulfilment of the Law. And He is waiting, desiring for us to join Him in the marriage feast which is to come, if we will make ourselves ready (Revelations 19:6-9).

“You shall also be a crown of glory In the hand of the Lord, And a royal diadem In the hand of your God. You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah [My Delight is in her] and your land Beulah [married]; For the Lord delights in you…as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:3-5).

Sometimes we hear these promises, but feel that we have been too unfaithful, are too sinful, are too unimportant, that He would fulfil them in our own lives. But He is the Almighty God, and there is nothing that can separate you from His love (Romans 8). In fact “our Lord did not choose the high places of Jerusalem, nor any of the notable cities of Palestine as the scene of His first miracle—He went to a quiet village in Galilee, Galilee of the Gentiles, a district much despised—and there He worked His first miracle at the city of rushes and canes, even Cana in Galilee” (Charles Spurgeon) - a fact which the gospel mentions twice that it might not escape our notice.

But although He does not turn us away because of our faults, He does require us to work with Him. “Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim” (John 2:7). We must bring our will into synergy with the grace of God, and then we will see His work of transformation. This is true in the Church, as seen in the sacraments; and the same can be true for all aspects of our lives:

“In the Orthodox Church, the whole approach to life is sacramental…a sacrament is an act of transformation, that transforms me, a simple man, into a Christian. A Christian is one who has received the gift of the Holy Spirit and thus is made capable of giving new meaning to all situations, all relations to every minute of time… My world can be very little - just a few people whom I meet every day. But, in all conditions God wants me to triumph, [He] wants to be present” (Fr Alexander Schmemann).

This feast may we ask Him to satisfy the deep longings of our soul, may we eagerly look to the heavenly banquet which awaits us, and may we choose to live a life that is sacramental - asking Him to transform our encounters and our daily duties by His presence.

St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church in London is one of the oldest Coptic churches in the lands of the immigration, and one of the first to be supported and cared for by our beloved patriarch, HH the late Pope Shenouda III.

  • St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church
    Allen Street, Kensington
    London W8 6UX