Thursday, January 17, 2013

A not very religious gesture

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
January 20, 2013

John 2:1-11

"There was a wedding in Galilee." Thus begins this story in which we are told something unexpected and surprising. The first public intervention of Jesus, the One sent by God, isn't religious at all. It doesn't happen in a sacred place. Jesus inaugurates his prophetic activity by "saving" a wedding feast that could have ended very badly. In those poor villages of Galilee, the wedding feast was the one most appreciated by all. Over various days, relatives and friends accompanied the newlyweds, eating and drinking with them, dancing festive dances and singing love songs.

John's gospel tells us that it was in the middle of one of those weddings that Jesus performed his "first sign", the sign that offers us the key to understanding all his actions and the deep meaning of his saving mission.

The gospel writer John doesn't speak of "miracles." He always calls the surprising gestures Jesus makes "signs." He doesn't want his readers to dwell on what might be prodigious in his actions. He invites us to discover their deeper meaning. For that, he offers some clues of a symbolic nature. Let's just look at one.

Jesus' mother, attentive to the details of the feast, realizes that "they have no wine" and she indicates it to her son. Perhaps the newlyweds, who are of humble estate, have been overwhelmed by guests. Mary is worried. The feast is in danger. How can the wedding end without wine? She trusts in Jesus.

Among the peasants of Galilee, wine was a well-known symbol of joy and love. Everyone knew it. If joy and love are lacking in life, how might the relationship end? Mary isn't wrong. Jesus intervenes to save the feast by providing abundant excellent quality wine.

This gesture of Jesus' helps us get the orientation of his whole life and the basic content of his plan of the Kingdom of God. While the religious leaders and teachers of the law are concerned with religion, Jesus devotes himself to making people's lives more bearable and human.

The gospels present Jesus as concentrated not on religion but on life. He isn't just for religious and pious people. He is also for those who have been disappointed by religion but feel the need to live in a more dignified and happier way. Why? Because Jesus spreads faith in a God who can be trusted and with whom one can live joyfully, and because he draws us to a more generous life, moved by love and solidarity.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Rebelgirl, for translating these wonderful reflections!