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The wedding at Cana
As we have seen, St. Mary is not only the Mother of Christ but also his Bride, which is based on the analogy between Adam/Eve and Christ/Mary (see The incarnation prefigured by Adam). This is why the second account of creation has a number of prophetic elements concerning Jesus and Mary. The most known is the Proto-Evangelium, which foretells the battle between the followers of Christ, the second Adam, and Satan:
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. It shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel (Gen 3:15).
It is traditionally believed that the bruising of the serpent’s head announces the final victory of Mary’s offspring over Satan. This offspring as well as the defeated “old serpent” is also mentioned in chapter 12 of Revelation. As Christ is the new Adam undoing the fall of the first Adam, Mary is the new Eve undoing the disobedience of the first Eve.Another prophetic element is:
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to overcome the man, and while he slept he took one of his ribs and filled up the place with flesh. From the rib which he had taken from the man, God formed a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called women because she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and they shall become one flesh (Gen 2:21-24).
This passage relates to the Passion of Christ, more particularly to the boring of his side, from where blood and water poured out (Jn 19:34), which is closely associated with Mary, who was at the foot of the cross (Jn 19:25). To understand this, it is necessary to see Jesus’ public mission with Mary’s eyes. This mission began with the wedding in Cana, where the host apparently ran out of wine because Mary said to Jesus: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:1-3). According to ancient Jewish tradition, it was the groom who organized the wedding festivities. Running out of provisions on such an occasion would have been greatly humiliating and cast a shadow on the marriage. Mary became aware of this situation and felt compassion for the host family. Pope John Paul II said: “Having sensed the eventual disappointment of the newly married couple and guests because of the lack of wine, the Blessed Virgin compassionately suggested to Jesus that he intervene with his messianic power.”
However, the guests at a feast do not care about the provisions. Why therefore did Mary want her son to give them new wine? The answer is contained in the response of Jesus: “Woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come” (Jn 2:4). We should not understand this reply as a rejection, for Mary did not feel offended and turn sadly away from Jesus, but said to the servants: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5), realizing that Jesus did accept her intervention. In fact, he had six stone jars filled with water and transformed it into wine (Jn 2:6-10). He has thus responded positively to Mary.
It may be that Jesus disagreed with Mary on what she expected from him on a more general level: his hour was indeed his Passion (Jn 12:23-24; 13:1; 17:1), redeeming thus his people by the blood (Heb 9:11-15). Mary, by knowing who he was, induced him to reveal himself. Jesus, however, may have defended himself from being received as someone of this world (Jn 18:36). This is why he may only have contradicted her on how he expected to reveal himself, hence not on the revelation itself.
This is what he showed her by getting the six jars filled with water and transforming it into wine, which means that he who was conceived by the Spirit (water) will suffer in the blood (wine). This way Jesus expressed that he will inherit no terrestrial kingdom, as the Jewish people and perhaps Mary expected of the Messiah. The reply of Jesus to Mary: “Woman, what have you to do with me?” (Jn 2:4), is consequently not at all a rejection of Mary, as Protestant theologians often claim, but a precision concerning his future. It is the first implicit announcement of his future passion, which Jesus will repeat several times in the course of his mission (Lk 9:22; 18:31-33).
He revealed it first to Mary, however. This revelation was necessary, for at this time the spirituality of the Kingdom of God was entirely unknown as is shown, for instance, in the obstinate incredulity of the disciples regarding Jesus’ repeated announcements of his death. So it was necessary to clarify this point, about which Mary could not have any knowledge. This is why one cannot draw any negative conclusion about Mary from her son’s reply, especially because Mary, unlike the disciples, does not show any evidence of incredulity.
The Gospel of St. John mentions no other encounter between Jesus and his Mother in the time from Cana to the Crucifixion. The encounters the other Gospels relate happened from at a distance, for Jesus refused to see Mary (Mt 12:46; Mark 3:31; Lk 8:19), which one cannot interpret negatively either, as we are going to see. We can therefore suppose that they did not meet between Cana and the Passion, which corresponds to the whole duration of his mission – over three years, according to John’s Gospel – for Jesus accomplished the miracle of Cana at the beginning of his mission and the Passion marked its end.
This is why there is a close relationship between these two meetings: at the marriage in Cana Jesus gave Mary the understanding that he is not a king of this world and that he would die; at the Passion in Jerusalem this was confirmed at their second meeting. This relationship could not have escaped Mary. And when she saw the water and the blood flowing from Jesus’ side pierced by the soldiers (Jn 19:31-37), she must certainly have thought back to Cana and to the water that Jesus had transformed into wine saying to her: “My hour has not yet come.”
She surely also wondered why Jesus did not call her mother, neither in Cana nor in Jerusalem, but each time woman (Jn 2:4; 19:26). He called her mother in front of St. John, who stood with her at the foot of the cross and is representative of God’s people:
By the cross of Jesus stood his mother [...] When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother: “Woman, there is your son.” Then he said to the disciple: “There is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her to his home (Jn 19:25-27).
The analogy with Adam’s sleep, during which God removed a rib from him to form Eve from it, is therefore manifest: the sleep foretells Jesus’ death and the rib the piercing of his side, during which Mary remembered Jesus words at Cana “my hour has not yet come”, realizing the spiritual realm of his Kingdom. She became thus the Woman, the Bride of Christ, at the level of his divinity and his “helper” (Gen 2:18) in view of the redemption of all humans. This is why the Holy Virgin Mary is the spiritual Mother of all who believe in Christ, as the ancient Eve is “the mother of all living” in the sense of physical descent (Gen 3:20).
When Adam is awakening from his sleep, he shouts out at the sight of Eve: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:21-23). Since Adam’s sleep announces Jesus’ death, his awakening prefigures Jesus’ resurrection and thereby suggests that Mary stood at his side when he came to life again.
There is nothing in the Gospels that mentions this explicitly. However, they do not exclude it either. On the contrary: Mark’s Gospel mentions three women – Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome – visiting the tomb early on the morning of the resurrection day with the intention to anoint Jesus’ body (Mark 16:1). Matthew also mentions Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary”, that is, the mother of James (Mt 27:56; 28:1). John only mentions Mary Magdalene (Jn 20:1-18). In addition to Mary Magdalene and the mother of James, Luke mentions Joanna and “other women” who were with them (Lk 24:1-11). So where was Mary, the mother of Jesus? It is possible that she was with the “other women” trying to convince the incredulous Apostles that Jesus was resuscitated (Lk 24:10-11). But why do the evangelists not mention her with Mary Magdalene visiting the tomb? As mother, she should have been the most distressed, provided that she was convinced, like the other women, that her son is dead forever. Thus she should have been with Mary Magdalene, with whom she had already stood beneath the cross (Jn 19:25). But apparently she is not.
When the women arrived at the tomb, they found it open but they did not discover Jesus’ body. According to John, Mary Magdalene believed that someone has taken away the body and was in despair about this, which shows that she, in contrast to John, still did not understand what was happening (Jn 20:1-11). It is improbable that Mary shared the same incredulity with Mary Magdalene, which explains that she was not with her.
The empty tomb raises the question whether the stone was rolled away by the two angels (Lk 24:4) in order to allow Jesus to go out of it, or for someone else to enter. If we take into account that Jesus appeared to his disciples in a closed room (Jn 20:19), it becomes evident that the stone was removed to allow someone to enter, not to take the body away but for another reason. Since, according to the prophecy, Mary had to be present at Jesus’ “awakening”, the person who the angel allowed to enter the tomb must have been Mary.
This is why she was the only one who had faith in the resurrection Jesus announced to everybody (see The purpose of the phase of apparition as to why she was the only one). This faith made of her a “flesh” similar to that of Christ (Gen 2:23), that is to say she became similar to him, not on the level of his divinity, of course, but in the sense of having perfect faith and being without sin. She is consequently the new Eve, a title that, in theology, was formulated because of the comparison established by St. Paul between the ancient and the new Adam, who is Christ (1 Co 15, 44-49).
More about this in The Free Woman.
At the general audience on March 5, 1997 (see In Cana Mary is Active in Her Son's Mission).
An important number of Church Fathers support this thought (see Was Mary, the Mother of Jesus, present at the Resurrection?).
The parallel is complex. In order to understand it better, see The incarnation prefigured by Adam.
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