We continue our Patristic Rosary Project today with the:
2nd Luminous Mystery: The Wedding at Cana
The late great John Paul II wrote in his letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae wrote:
24. The Rosary is at the service of this ideal; it offers the “secret” which leads easily to a profound and inward knowledge of Christ. We might call it Mary’s way. It is the way of the example of the Virgin of Nazareth, a woman of faith, of silence, of attentive listening. It is also the way of a Marian devotion inspired by knowledge of the inseparable bond between Christ and his Blessed Mother: the mysteries of Christ are also in some sense the mysteries of his Mother, even when they do not involve her directly, for she lives from him and through him.
First, Mary stays mostly in the background. But in the case of the Wedding at Cana, she steps for a moment into the light. In the Gospel we read: “On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage.” Take careful note that Mary seems to have had the main invitation and The Lord was “also invited”. Mary, however, redirects everyone back to the Lord. Second, in all the moments in the Gospel in which Mary appears, she is seen to take in what happens in regard to her Son and herself and then contemplate them in silence before doing anything. After the Angel departed from her, she journeyed to see Elizabeth contemplating what happened before she burst out in her great Canticle. At the Presentation she contemplated the things Simeon told her. You will find this pattern again and again. At Cana Mary sees how the time, the right moment, had finally arrived for Jesus to make Himself known in public. Mary contemplated everything and, when all was prepared, she spoke and then stepped back into the shadows. She always redirects our gaze to her Son.
As Catholics we know with certain and divinely guided Faith that Christ instituted sacraments which would be the ordinary means for us to obtain the graces opening the way to salvation. God the Father created marriage in the creation of Adam and Eve and the mandate and different roles He gave them. We know that Christ’s presence at the Wedding at Cana did sanctify that marriage and, in so doing, sanctifies Christian marriage contracted in Christ in and under His Church, raising marriage to the dignity of a sacrament. As Venerable Bede said (+735):
To show that all states in life are good… Jesus designed to be born in the pure womb of the Virgin Mary; soon after He was born He received praise from the prophetic lips of Anna, a widow, and, invited in His youth by the betrothed couple, he honored the wedding with the power of His presence. [Homily 13]
It might strike some as odd to connect the mystery of Cana with the creation of Adam and Eve, but the connection is there. St. Augustine of Hippo (+430) wrote a commentary on the Gospel of John which has never been surpassed in all the ages since. In Tractate IX, he explores the symbolism of the six water-jars and the measures of wine within them.
In the very beginning, Adam and Eve were the parents of all nations, not of the Jews only; and whatever was represented in Adam concerning Christ, undoubtedly concerned all nations, whose salvation is in Christ. What better can I say of the water of the first water-jar than what the apostle says of Adam and Eve? For no man will say that I misunderstand the meaning when I produce not my own, but the apostle’s. How great a mystery, then, concerning Christ does that of which the apostle makes no mention contain, when he says, “And the two shall be in one flesh: this is a great mystery!” (Eph 3.31) And lest any man should understand that greatness of mystery to exist in the case of the individual men that have wives, he says, “But I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” What great mystery is this, “the two shall be one flesh?” While Scripture, in the Book of Genesis, was speaking of Adam and Eve, it came to these words, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they two shall be one flesh.” (Gen 2:24) Now, if Christ cleave to the Church, so that the two should be one flesh, in what manner did He leave His Father and His mother? He left His Father in this sense, that when He was in the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking to Him the form of a servant. (Phil 2:6) In this sense He left His Father, not that He forsook or departed from His Father, but that He did not appear unto men in that form in which He was equal with the Father. But how did He leave His mother? By leaving the synagogue of the Jews, of which, after the flesh, He was born, and by cleaving to the Church which He has gathered out of all nations. Thus, the first water-jar held a prophecy of Christ; but so long as these things of which I speak were not preached among the peoples, the prophecy was water, it was not yet changed into wine. And since the Lord has enlightened us through the apostle, to show us what we were in search of, by this one sentence, “The two shall be one flesh; a great mystery concerning Christ and the Church;” we are now permitted to see Christ everywhere, and to drink wine from all the water-jars. Adam sleeps, that Eve may be formed; Christ dies, that the Church may be formed. When Adams sleeps, Eve is formed from his side; when Christ is dead, the spear pierces His side, that the mysteries may flow forth whereby the Church is formed. [tr. io. eu. 9.10]