The first miracle of Jesus: meditation on the second Sunday after the Epiphany
By Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen OCD | 11 January 2023
Towards the end of his life, Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen OCD (1893–1953), began to compile and condense his life’s work on the interior life into a book of meditations for every day of the liturgical year. After Fr Gabriel’s death, the Discalced Carmelite nuns of the Monastery of St Joseph in Rome completed the work which would become known under the title “Divine Intimacy”.
O Jesus, I beg You to transform my soul as You once transformed the water for the bride and bridegroom at Cana.
Now that the cycle of Jesus’ childhood has ended, the liturgy begins to speak of His public life. During the days following the Epiphany, it recalled Our Lord’s baptism in the Jordan, the event which marked the beginning of His apostolate. Today it tells us about His first miracle, destined, like the Epiphany and His baptism, to manifest to the world His glory as the Son of God.
“And the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the Mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited … to the marriage” (Jn 2:1–11).
For the first time, we see the Blessed Virgin in her maternal function as Mediatrix of all graces. The Cana miracle, Jesus’ first, was worked precisely because of her intercession which was so powerful that it made Jesus anticipate His hour. “My hour is not yet come,” the Saviour had answered His Mother, and Mary was neither dismayed by this apparent refusal nor did she insist on her request. Secure in the knowledge of her Son and full of loving confidence in Him, she says to the servants, “Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye.” Her humility, consideration for others, faith, and trustful abandonment win Jesus, and to show us the greatness of her power over His Divine Heart, He grants her wish; the miracle takes place.
Mary’s faith is admirable; and also worthy of admiration is the faith and prompt obedience of the servants who, following Mary’s advice, immediately carry out the orders of Jesus; they fill the water pots with water and then pour from them. Not a moment of doubt, not a protest — they simply obey. May we not learn from them how to believe, how to obey? Shall we not have recourse to Mary’s powerful intercession?
“The water was made wine.” A miracle much more wonderful than the one which Jesus performed at Cana is repeated daily on our altars; a little bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, and given to us as the Food of our souls. The Communion antiphon of today’s Mass repeats the passage in the Gospel which speaks of the water made wine. Yes, for us pre-eminently, Jesus has “kept the good wine until now.” It is the precious wine of the Holy Eucharist, inebriating our souls with His Body and Blood.
There is another wonderful transformation which Jesus accomplishes in our souls by means of grace; the water of our poor human nature becomes a sharer in God’s divine nature; it is transformed into the sacred wine of the life of Christ Himself. Man becomes a member of Christ, the adopted child of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Today our Lady tells us how we can and should foster this precious transformation; she says to us as she once did to the servants at the Cana feast, “Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye.” In these words, Mary invites us to that complete transformation in Christ which is effected by the generous practice of all that He teaches and commands. Let us, then, with humble, docile hearts, with lively faith and perfect abandonment, entrust ourselves to Jesus through Mary’s hands.
How encouraging it is, O Lord, for me to find Your sweet Mother beside You today! Everything becomes simple and easy near Mary, beneath her maternal eye, under the protection of her powerful intercession. How good You were, O Jesus, to give us Your dear Mother to be the Mother of our spiritual life! I will follow Mary’s precious advice and do everything You tell me, everything You wish me to do.
I want to imitate the blind, prompt obedience of the servants at the wedding feast: to obey You as they did, always and in everything, Your instructions, counsels, and precepts — to obey You likewise in the person of my superiors, even when I do not see the reason for their orders and arrangements, even when they expect difficult things of me or something which seems to me absurd. Furthermore, I want to imitate Your Mother’s complete abandonment when, in her great thoughtfulness, she confided to You her wish to help the bride and bridegroom in their difficulty. Your apparent refusal did not trouble her; she did not persist in her request, but she was sure, absolutely sure, that Your infinitely good and tender heart would provide, and provide abundantly.
O Lord, with a like confidence and trust, I lay my needs before You today. Do You see them? My soul is like the water pots at the feast: full of water, the cold, insipid water of my frailty and weakness, which I never seem to overcome completely. I can say with the Psalmist: “The waters have come even unto my soul” (Ps 68:1), and they submerge me and I am as one drowned in incompetence and weakness. O Lord, I believe that, if You will, You can change all this water into the precious wine of Your love, Your grace, and Your life. You are so powerful, so merciful, that my wretchedness, great as it is, does not astonish You, because in comparison with You, who are infinite, it is always very small. Just as in the Mass the few drops of water which are poured into the chalice are changed with the wine into Your Blood, O Lord, take my wretchedness, plunge it into Your heart, make it disappear in You.