Thought for the Week

THIS has been the festive season, a time of parties and entertainment. After Christmas and the New Year, my birthday and our wedding anniversary followed in rapid succession. So it struck a familiar note when our preacher on Sunday talked about Jesus’ first miracle at Cana in Galilee.

This happened when the wine ran out at a wedding party. In those days wedding celebrations in that part of the world would last for about a week or more, as it was a serious matter. The story of how Jesus changed some water into first class wine and averted the crisis is a familiar one.

The tale made me read again St John’s account of the event at the start of the second chapter in his gospel. It is tautly written, but no less revealing for that. Jesus’ mother notices what has happened and draws His attention to the crisis. Jesus shrugs it off and retorts that it is none of His business. Mary knows him too well and is not in the least put off by the rebuff. She has perfect faith that he will solve the problem and tells the waiters to do what he says. In the whole of his gospel John’s only other mention of Jesus’ mother is when he describes the crucifixion and is asked by Jesus from the cross to take Mary away and look after her.

To me it is the immediacy of these stories that makes them so interesting. John is so clearly writing about his own memories of his youth and of the great events that unfolded before his eyes when he recalls the crucifixion. His story of the wedding at Cana seems to be more like Mary’s memory, perhaps described to John after he had taken her home after the crucifixion.

Why did he single out these two stories from all his memories of Mary? Is it because he felt that they illustrated the core of the Christian message and its instructions about our behaviour to each other? It is emphasising our duty of care for our neighbours in the community and our consideration for their problems. It is stressing our obligation to care for our families and to help them to weather the vicissitudes of life. To behave otherwise is pagan. At this season of New Year’s resolutions, it is a good time to remember where our priorities must lie if we want to call ourselves Christian.

Jonathan Stansfeld

Church of St Mary and St Peter