Readings (Year C):
Reflection: Everyday miracles
Awards season will soon be upon us—and if the Academy ever created a biblical category, I imagine today’s gospel would be in the running for top prize.
John’s blockbuster story of the Wedding at Cana features some serious gospel A-listers: Jesus, his mother, and the disciples. But I’d like to draw our attention to the unsung heroes of many a movie and scripture passage: the props, particularly those six stone water jars.
Props certainly have practical functions, but they can also serve as metaphors that deepen the plot’s meaning. Think of Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, for example.
As I prayed with this gospel story, I started playing around with the idea of the water jars as a metaphor for Christian congregations.
This Wednesday marks the start of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, a time when Christians from many different traditions across the globe join together to lament divisions among God’s people and to pray for greater unity.
It’s true that there are significant differences among denominations in terms of beliefs, practices, and ecclesial structures. We have real work to do to recognize Christ’s vision “that all may be one.”
And at the end of the day, Christian congregations share common callings.
Like the stone water jars in today’s gospel, Jesus calls congregations to offer space for coming together.
Those six stone water jars were the containers in which the servers could collect all the water needed for the ceremonial washings—and later, the miracle. A drop here or a splash there is not nearly as powerful as twenty to thirty gallons of liquid together in one space.
Similarly, the Christian life is strengthened together. We are made for community, and congregations offer spaces within their walls, in their neighborhoods, and even online to come together in a shared mission.
Like the stone water jars, Jesus calls congregations to support spiritual transformation.
Jesus commands the servers to “fill the jars with water” (John 2:7)—and in ways only the Son of God can explain, the water becomes wine. A transformation happens inside those jars. Those jars are the site of Jesus’ first miracle.
Similarly, spiritual transformations—those everyday water-to-wine moments—happen inside our sanctuaries and holy online spaces. They happen through many facets of congregational life like formation, preaching, service, and advocacy.
Like the stone water jars, Jesus calls congregations to be vessels of hope.
Mary confidently tells the servers: “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). She believes in Jesus’ power to reveal the glory of God in elements as ordinary as water and wine. Jesus takes average stone jars and makes the hoped-for happen within them.
Similarly, Jesus is at work within congregations big and small, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and many more who keep the hope of resurrection alive, who time and again answer Christ’s call to be vessels of hope for a world in need of some miracles.