Last Updated on January 7, 2023 by GMC
Fourth Week of Lent, Monday
Then he returned to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine.John 4:46
The Gospel of John calls special attention to Cana, the location of the first and second “signs” (sémeion) revealing Jesus as the Messiah to Israel. Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, the wedding feast at Cana (first sign), and the healing of the royal official’s son (second sign) are all connected in the Gospel.
In the light of the protological account of Genesis, the three episodes can be seen as the renewal of the primordial waters of creation, the transformation and divinization of all flesh in Christ (water into wine), and the restoration of a son to a father (Abel to Adam).
Cana and Cain are etymologically related, and it is in this town that Jesus revealed his glory at the instigation of “Woman.” Jesus and Mary, the new Adam and new Eve, are the archetypes of Man and Woman (Ish and Ishshah in Hebrew) at the dawn of creation.
Jesus addresses Mary as “Woman” twice in John’s Gospel—at the wedding feast at Cana and at the foot of the Cross (John 2:4; John 19:26). The appellation recalls Adam’s acclamation when presented with Eve:
“This one, at last, is bone of my bonesGenesis 2:23
and flesh of my flesh;
This one shall be called ‘woman,’
for out of man this one has been taken.”
In the recreation of the world, Ish is taken out of Ishshah in the Virgin birth of Christ. Jesus and Mary redeemed the world as “one flesh,” the former as God, and the latter as the Mother of God, chosen by grace.
The following poem expresses these ideas.
The First Sign of Jesus in the Light of Genesis
Water churning and bubbling
In the beginning of time…
Hovering was the Spirit
Over dark and oozing slime.1
Speaking, breathing and molding
In six days of creation…
Ish and Ishshah God made flesh—
A wedding celebration!2
Churning and bubbling water
Of the Jordan near Cana…
Ish from heaven purified
For the wedding fiesta.3
On the third day his mother
Came to the marriage banquet.
Mercy moved her heart to solve
A problem unexpected.
“They have no wine,” Mary said.
“What is that to us, Ishshah?”4
“Do whatever he tells you.”5
The servants obeyed Ima.6
Bubbling and churning water
In six ceremonial jars…
Hovering was the Spirit,
Making yayin for the bars.7
“You saved the best wine for last!”
Cheered the master of the feast.
Thus the Bridegroom was revealed:
King of glory, the High Priest.
The Second Sign of Jesus in the Light of Genesis
The first father mourned his son,
The first victim of the curse;
Christ’s second sign at Cana
Cain’s calamity reversed.
Like Adam, the little king8
Ached to have his son restored.
Seeking Jesus with faint faith,
A home visit he implored.
“Your son lives,” said Christ, “Go home!”
“Yes, he lives!” servants confirmed.
At the seventh hour he revived,9
In the instant Christ affirmed.
God changed water into wine,
And gave life back to a son,
Infused flesh with breath divine—
Signs of earth’s recreation.
1 Genesis 1:1-2; 2:1-7.
2 Ish and Ishshah are man and woman in Hebrew, from Genesis 2:23. The two are “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Click phonetics for the pronunciation of ish and ishshah.
3 Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan: Mark 1:9-11; Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34. In Middle Eastern culture, the bride and bridegroom prepare for the wedding with a special bath.
4 John 2:4 in Greek: “What [is that] to me and to you, Woman?”
5 John 2:5.
6 Ima is mom in Aramaic/Hebrew. Click here for the pronunciation of Ima.
7 Yayin is wine in Hebrew. Click phonetics for the pronunciation of yayin.
8 The “royal official” (basilikos) in John 4:46, literally translated from the Greek, is “little king.” In the story of Genesis, Adam (a type of Christ) is also a little king.
9 The Gospel writer specifies the “seventh” hour as the time when the fever left the boy (John 4:52). According to HELPS Word-studies, hébdomos (seventh) is a figure of God’s perfect, finished work. The New American Bible (Revised Edition) loses the religious significance by translating it, “one in the afternoon.”
One Reply to “Wine, Woman, and Wakening”
Dear GMC, in prose and poetry your reflection marvels and renews. The poetry as always gives a new way to revere the Word. Thank you for enlivening my Saint Patrick’s Day. I wish you a heartfelt and happy Saint Patrick’s Day.