Water to wine: Jesus ushers in new covenant of joy, pope says

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Jesus’ first miracle of changing
water into wine expresses his invitation to share in the joy of the new
covenant and reminds people to do as he commands, Pope Francis said.

The miracle also shows how he transformed the law of
Moses — represented by water destined for ritual purification — into the joy
of the Gospel, which is represented by wine, he said.

“A feast needs to have wine” as an integral
part of shared celebration, the pope said June 8 during his weekly general

“Imagine ending a wedding reception drinking tea! It
would be embarrassing,” he said, as a way to emphasize why Mary was so
worried when the wine was running out at the wedding in Cana.

“Water is needed for life, but wine expresses the
abundance of a banquet and the joy of a feast,” he said.

After a series of audience talks dedicated to selected
parables in the Gospel, the pope said the day’s catechesis would look at the
first of Jesus’ miracles.

“The wedding at Cana is much more than a simple
account of Jesus’ first miracle,” the pope told those gathered in St.
Peter’s Square.

The story sheds the first light on the “whole
mystery of Christ” — who he really is and why he came — as well as
helping open “the hearts of the disciples to the faith,” he said.

The miracles, or what John the Evangelist calls “signs,”
were never meant to astonish people, but to “reveal the father’s love,”
the pope said.

Jesus performing his first miracle at the wedding feast
in Cana is greatly significant, the pope said. “Jesus manifests himself as
the bridegroom of the people of God” and reveals the nature and depth of
this relationship: “It is a new covenant of love.”

“It’s like the story of two people in love,” he
said. God and humanity seek each other out, they meet, they celebrate and they
love each other.

“The church is Jesus’ family into which he pours his
love. It is this love that the church safeguards and wants to offer
everyone.” Living a Christian life is the response to God’s love, he added.

Those Jesus calls to follow him are united to him as a
community, as a family, Pope Francis said, and they are all invited to a feast.

The miracle, he said, also requires the servants to do
exactly as Jesus tells them.

In fact, the pope said, the last words the Gospel writers
attribute to Mary are, “Do whatever he tells you,” leaving her
command as a kind of legacy she hands down to all of humanity for all time.

At the feast, he said, Jesus stipulates a whole new
covenant for “the servants of the Lord,” that is, for the church, and
a new mission: “Do whatever he tells you.”

“Serving the Lord means listening to and putting
into practice his word,” the pope said; it is the guide for a Christian

“In Cana, Jesus’ disciples become his family and the
faith of the church is born. All of us are invited to that wedding feast so
that the new wine will no longer run short.”

Before beginning his catechesis, the pope honored a group
of couples in St. Peter’s Square who were celebrating 50 years of marriage.
“Now that is the good wine” for families, he said.

He thanked the couples for their “beautiful
witness,” which, he said, was something newlyweds and young people today
“must learn.”

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