Second Ordinary Sunday
Celebrating as Christians
Points to note
The wedding feast at Cana is often noted to be the account of an eyewitness. As a result, the story is rather vivid and engaging. There are many aspects of the story that we could focus on. Jesus gave his blessings at someone’s celebration. In this session, we aim to focus on celebrations and the use of wine in celebrations.
One problem with the two central symbols of the Eucharist is that they are a little alien to our culture. We may be able to relate to bread even though our staple is rice, but wine?? Wine carries greater significance for Europeans than for us. We must understand that wine is probably one of the few beverages that medieval Europeans may drink hygienically and safely during a time when water was usually contaminated.
There is, of course, the significance of wine as a symbol of fellowship, as explained below. Do not shy away from discussing light drinking that is socially acceptable and in good spirit, but use it as a starting point for discussing. Be alert, however, for experiences of extreme drunkenness, which leads to violence and anti-social behaviour.
Acclamation before the Gospel
Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life:
you have the message of eternal life.
Explain that this event happened during the first week of Jesus’ public ministry, after he had just picked up his apostles. This, therefore, is Jesus’ first miracle.
The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. When they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the wedding was all finished, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They had no wine.” Jesus said, “Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” There were six stone water jars standing there meant for the ablutions that were customary among the Jews; each could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. “Draw some out now,” he told them, “and take it to the steward.” They did this; the steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine. Having no idea where it came from - only the servants who had drawn the water knew - the steward called the bridegroom and said, “People generally serve the best wine first, and keep the cheaper sort till the guests have had plenty to drink; but you have kept the best wine till now.”
This was the first of the signs given by Jesus; it was given in Cana in Galilee. He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him.
This is the Gospel of the Lord
Have any of you ever been to a wedding? What happened there? Two persons get married. Extend the discussion to the big dinner or party that takes place after the wedding. Is it a joyous occasion? Let the children talk about their memories and experiences.
There is one point in a wedding dinner, especially at a Chinese dinner, where people make a lot of noise to wish the newly wedded couple a good married life together: when is it? The big yam seng toast. Again, let the children talk about what they remember.
Draw the children’s attention to what is used for the toast: something alcoholic. Discuss what happens if there is no wine, brandy or beer for the toast. Do you think the toast would be as noisy and as successful? Be prepared for a few poor souls who resent not getting a sip of the ‘proper’ toast.
Explain that this is how the guests at the wedding at Cana found themselves. There was no wine and so there was a danger of the party grinding to a halt. Discuss what Jesus did. Was he a party-pooper or did he help the people continue their celebrations? If the group is sufficiently matured, you may be able to guide the discussions to whether God is such a killjoy?
What is the big celebration in church? The mass. What is the two important items at the centre of attention for the mass? The bread and wine. Why do we use the bread and wine?
Concentrate the discussion on the wine: wine is a symbol of fellowship. People are happy when they had a drink, especially when you have been drinking with other people. And you normally prefer to have a drink with people you like. We do not celebrate with people we do not like. Remember how the drinks at the wedding party help make it a joyous occasion? Well, this is very much the same thing.
So, wine at mass means that the people of God get together, with people we like, to share our happiness. So, at the end of mass, after having shared the symbol of fellowship, should we leave mass with a mournful face of with a happy face? Discuss how we can express our happiness and our happy faces after mass. Perhaps we can try these ideas out after this mass?