The Lord saith: Fill the waterpots with water, and carry to the chief steward. When the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, he saith to the bridegroom: Thou hast kept the good wine until now. This first miracle did Jesus in the presence of His disciples.
Verse 10. When men have well drank, or plentifully; this is the literal sense: nor need we translate, when they are drunk, being spoken of such company, where our Saviour, Christ, his blessed Mother, and his disciples, were present. See Gen. xliii. 34. 1 Mac. xvi. v. 16, where the same word may be taken in the same sense. Wi.
Verse 11. This was the first miracle which Jesus had performed in public, and to manifest his glory; but Maldonatus is of opinion that he had before wrought many miracles, known to the blessed Virgin and S. Joseph; which gave her the confidence to ask one now. This opinion is no way contrary to the evangelist. His disciples believed in him. They had believed in him before or they would not have followed him. This confirmed their faith. Calmet.
5. His mother said to the servants, Whatsoever he says to you, do it. 6. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7. Jesus said to them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8. And he said to them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bore it. 9. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10. And said to him, Every man at the beginning does set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but you have kept the good wine until now. 11. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
CHRYS. Although He had said, Mine hour is not yet come, He afterwards did what His mother told Him, in order to show plainly, that He was not under subjection to the hour. For if He was, how could He have done this miracle before the hour appointed for it? In the next place, He wished to show honor to His mother, and make it appear that He did not go counter to her eventually. He would not put her to shame in the presence of so many; especially as she had sent the servants to Him, that the petition might come from a number, and not from herself only; His mother said to the servants, Whatsoever He says to you, do it.
BEDE; As if she said, Though He appear to refuse, He will do it nevertheless. She knew His pity and mercifulness. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Hydriae are vessels to hold water: hydor being the Greek for water.
ALCUIN. Vessels to hold water were there, after the manner of the purifying of Jews. Among other traditions of the Pharisees, they observed frequent washings
CHRYS Palestine being a dry country, with few fountains or wells, they used to fill waterpots with water, to prevent the necessity of going to the river, if they were unclean, and to have materials for washing at hand. To prevent any unbeliever from suspecting that a very thin wine was made by the dregs having been left in the vessels, and water poured in upon them, He says expressly, According to the manner of the purifying of the Jews: which shows that those vessels were never used to hold wine.
AUG. A firkin is a certain measure; as urn, amphora, and the like. Metron is the Greek for measure: whence metreta. Two or three, is not to be taken to mean some holding two, others three, but the same vessels holding two or three. Jesus said to them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
CHRYS. But why did He not world the miracle before they had filled the waterpots, which would have been much more wonderful; inasmuch as it is one thing to change the quality of some existing substance, another to make it that substance out of nothing? The latter miracle would be the more wonderful, but the former would be the more easy of belief. And this principle often acts as a check, to moderate the greatness of our Lord’s miracles: He wishes to make them more credible, therefore He makes them less marvelous; a refutation this of the perverse doctrine of some, that He was a different Being from the Maker of the world. For we see He performs most of His miracles upon subject-matter already existing, whereas were He contrary to the Creator of the world, He would not use a material thus alien, to demonstrate His own power. He did not draw out the water Himself which He made wine, but ordered the servants to do so. This was for the sake of having witnesses of the miracle; And He said to them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast.
ALCUIN. The Triclinium is a circle of three couches, cline signifying couch: the ancients used to recline upon couches. And the Architriclinus is the one at the head of the Triclinium, i.e. the chief of the guests. Some say that among the Jews, He was a priest, and attended the marriage in order to instruct in the duties of the married state.
CHRYS Or thus; It might be said that the guests were drunken, and could not, in the confusion of their senses, tell whether it were water or wine. But this objection could not be brought against the attendants, who must have been sober, being occupied wholly in performing the duties of their service gracefully and in order. Our Lord therefore bid the attendants bear to the governor of the feast; who again would of course be perfectly sober. He did not say, Give to the guests to drink.
HILARY; Water is poured into the waterpots; wine is drawn out into the chalices; the senses of the drawer out agree not with the knowledge of the pourer in. The pourer in thinks that water is drawn out; the drawer out thinks that wine was poured in. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was, (but the servants who drew the water knew,) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom. It was not a mixture, but a creation: the simple nature of water vanished, and the flavor of wine was produced; not that a weak dilution was obtained, by means of some strong infusion, but that which was, was annihilated; and that which was not, came to be.
CHRYS. Our Lord wished the power of His miracles to be seen gradually; and therefore He did not reveal what He had done Himself, nor did the ruler of the feast call upon the servants to do so; (for no credit would have been given to such testimony concerning a mere man, as our Lord was supposed to be,) but He called the bridegroom, who was best able to see what was done. Christ moreover did not only make wine, but the best wine. And (the ruler of the feast) said to him, Every man at the beginning does set forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but you have kept the good wine until now. The effects of the miracles of Christ are more beautiful and better than the productions of nature. So then that the water was made wine, the servants could testify; that it was made good wine, the ruler of the feast and the bridegroom. It is probable that the bridegroom made some answer; but the Evangelist omits it, only mentioning what it was necessary for us to know, viz. the water being made wine. He adds, This beginning of of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee. It was very necessary to work miracles just then, when His devoted disciples were all collected, and present at the place, attending to what was going on. ID. Should any say that there is not sufficient proof of this being the beginning of miracles, because it is added, in Cana of Galilee, as if some had been preferred elsewhere: we answer, as we did before, that John says below, That He might be made manifest to Israel, therefore have I come baptizing. Now if He had performed miracles in the earlier part of His life, the Jews would not have wanted another person to point Him out. If our Lord in a short time became so distinguished for the number of His miracles, that His Name was known to every one, would He not have been much more so, had He worked miracles from His earliest years? for the things themselves would have been the more extraordinary, being performed by a Child, and in so long a time must have become notorious. It was fit and proper however that He should not begin to work miracles at so early an age: for men would have thought the Incarnation a fantasy, and in the extremity of envy would have delivered Him to be crucified before the appointed time.
AUG. This miracle of our Lord’s, turning the water into wine, is no miracle to those who know that God worked it. For the Same that day made wine in the waterpots, Who every year makes wine in the vine: only the latter is no longer wonderful, because it happens uniformly. And therefore it is that God keeps some extraordinary acts in store for certain occasions, to rouse men out of their lethargy, and make them worship Him. Thus it follows, He manifested forth His glory.
ALCUIN. He was the King of glory, and changed the elements because He was their Lord.
CHRYS. He manifests His glory, as far as related to His own act; and if at the time many knew it not, yet was it afterwards to be heard and known of all. And His disciples believed in Him. It was probable that these would believe more readily, and give more attention to what went on.
AUG. If now for the first time they believed on Him, they were not His disciples when they came to the marriage. This however is a form of speech, such as saying that the Apostle Paul was born in Tarsus of Cilicia; not meaning by this that he was an Apostle then. In the same way when we hear of Christ’s disciples being invited to the marriage, we should understand not disciples already, but who were to be disciples.
AUG. But see the mysteries which lie hid in that miracle of our Lord. It was necessary that all things should be fulfilled in Christ which were written of Him: those Scriptures were the water. He made the water wine when He opened to them the meaning of these things, and expounded the Scriptures; for thus that came to have a taste which before had none, and that inebriated, which did not inebriate before.
BEDE; At the time of our Lord’s appearing in the flesh, the sweet vinous taste of the law had been weakened by the carnal interpretations of the Pharisees.
AUG. Now if He ordered the water to be poured out, and then introduced the wine from the hidden recesses of creation, He would seem to have rejected the Old Testament. But converting, as He did, the water into wine, He showed us that the Old Testament was from Himself; for it was as by His order that the waterpots were filled. But those Scriptures have no meaning, if Christ be not understood there. Now we know from what time the law dates, viz. from the foundation of the world. From that time to this are six ages; the first reckoning from Adam to Noah; the second, from Noah to Abraham; the third, from Abraham to David; the fourth, from David to the carrying away into Babylon; the fifth, from that time to John the Baptist; the sixth, from John the Baptist to the end of the world. The six waterpots then denote these six ages of prophecy. The prophecies are fulfilled; the waterpots are full. But what is the meaning of their holding two or three firkins apiece? Had He said three only, our minds would have run immediately to the mystery of the Trinity. Nor perhaps can we reject it, even though it is said, two or three: for the Father and the Son being named, the Holy Ghost may be understood by consequence; inasmuch as it is the love between the Father and the Son, which is the Holy Ghost. Nor should we pass over another interpretation, which makes the two firkins alluded to the two races of men, the Jews and the Greeks; and the three to the three sons of Noah.
ALCUIN. The servants are the doctors of the New Testament, who interpret the holy Scripture to others spiritually; the ruler of the feast is some lawyer, as Nicodemus, Gamaliel, or Saul. When to the former then is committed the word of the Gospel, hid under the letter of the law, it is the water made wine, being set before the ruler of the feast. And the three rows of guests at table in the house of the marriage are properly mentioned; the Church consisting of three orders of believers, the married, the continent, and the doctors. Christ has kept the good wine until now, i.e. He has deferred the Gospel till this, the sixth age.