Monday, 2 March 2015

JOHN 2:1

Within the first chapter of his account of the Holy Gospel St. John, after the great Prologue on the mystery and reality of the Incarnation of Jesus, and Jesus becoming flesh, that is a human being, moves us through two totally packed days of the appearance and witness to Jesus of St. John the Baptist, the appearance of Jesus and the encounters with Andrew, Simon-Peter, Philip and Nathaniel.

Now the Evangelist tells us in the very first words of chapter 2 v.1 – On the third day…..

As mentioned before days, time, hour, place, Jesus’ relationship with the Father, His Father-Our Father, most especially and more so than in the Synoptic accounts, are critically emphasized by St. John, who also more than the Synoptics, gives us lengthy accounts of Jesus’ spoken words, as in this chapter.

The “third day”!

Rather than go through the entire Old Testament instances which show the importance of ‘three’ in the unfolding of salvation history and prophecies about the Christ and His redemptive mission, keeping in mind in the ancient world numbers were of great symbolic importance, I will here confine myself to examples from the New Testament, the Gospels in particular and one affirming quote from St. Paul.

In John 19, after being challenged by His disciples about His action in the cleansing of temple, Jesus declares: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. [2:19]

A couple of verses further on the Evangelist notes: …He was in Jerusalem at the time of the Passover…[v. 23]

This is the first of three Passovers St. John notes Jesus’ presence at during His public life: Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near…..[6:4]…..Then, six days before the Passover….[12:1].

The last, the third, was indeed the ultimate Passover when Jesus, the true Lamb of God would be sacrificed and rise on the third day.

It is the Risen Christ who specifically teaches the reality of the Holy Trinity, Three Persons, One God: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. [Mt. 28:19]

As referred to earlier when Jesus spoke about restoring the Temple in three days, that is on the third day, St. John adds: …He was speaking of the temple of His body. [v.21]

More explicitly in the Synoptics Jesus teaches on several occasions about the three days and the third day:

St. Matthew: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. [12.40]; From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised on the third day. [16;21]; ….and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up. [17:23]; And the third day He will rise again. [20:19]

St. Mark:  …and after three days rise again. [8:31]; And after He is killed, He will rise the third day. [9:31]; And the third day He will rise again. [10:34]

St. Luke:  …and be raised the third day. [9:22]; And the third day He will rise again. [18:33]

Before returning to the beginning of St. John chapter 2 and his reference to the third day, this from St. Paul 1 Corinthians 15:3-8: For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures……

V. 1 - …there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee….

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, [paras. 1601 ff] can be found a precise teaching on holy marriage from the origins of marital union in Genesis to the wedding feast of the Lamb described in Revelation 19: 7, 9.

While the Church Herself is the Bride of Christ, the Divine Bridegroom, the soul of every human being, male of female, is always spoken of as the ‘she’ beloved of the ‘Him”, that is of Christ the Divine Bridegroom.

Thus the mystics of the Church have always found in that most human of love sonnets, the Song of Songs of the Hebrew Scriptures an image of the passionate relationship between the soul and God, the love affair, the communion of love, for which we have been created.

On this side of the grave the highest and most intimate union possible with the Divine, Holy, Triune God is when He weds Himself to us in such perfect communion-of-love-fusion we loose none of our individuality, remain person, but, just as in human sacramental marriage where the two become one yet remain two, so the soul with the soul and the Trinity.

V. 1 - …..and the Mother of Jesus was there.

Here St. John reveals the apostolate of intercession of Our Blessed Mother, visibly from this moment in Cana until the end of time but noting at the very beginning of this event Her presence.

From the Evangelist’s notation of ‘third day’ to in v.11 referring to the first manifestation of His glory, this Cana event highlights the original martial vocation, affirms its sacredness and honour, its communal dimension,  points both to the Resurrection and the reality of heavenly life, the eternal wedding feast!