The miracle at the wedding at Cana and the other miracles of Christ illustrate the nature of divine love that will not be outdone in generosity. Man gives a pittance but inherits a fortune. He invests a small sum or does honest work but earns riches beyond compare. He asks, believes, follows, and obeys only to receive a hundredfold.
Like the multiplying of the wine at the wedding and the multiplying of the bread and the fish to feed the thousands, the Last Supper once more communicates the infinite treasury of divine love that changes the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ in the greatest of miracles.
In following Christ, in keeping his commandments, in believing him to be the messiah, the disciples—like the servants who brought the six pitchers of water—provide the bread and wine and receive the heavenly food of eternal life: “This is the bread which comes from heaven, that a man may eat of it and never die” (John 6: 50).
In this ultimate act of God’s boundless generosity he gives man the miracle of divine life and eternal joy.
Not for the Curious
While God works miracles to heal, to feed, and to resurrect the dead, He does not perform wonders to amaze the crowds, to satisfy the curious, or to impress Satan. When asked for a sign, Christ did not comply: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah” (Matthew 16: 4).
Christ did not jump from the pinnacle of the temple to prove He was the Son of God attended by the angels or change stones into bread to demonstrate his divine power. These temptations to resort to magic to astonish skeptics or to pander to the mob amount to sensationalism and trickery. They do not serve as spiritual or corporal works of mercy and hence would not teach anything about divine love, confidence in God, or faith in Christ’s words.
The signs which please the crowds represent spectacular displays and vainglory, but, as Caryll Houselander writes in The Passion of the Infant Christ, God is not a public broadcaster:
We imagine that God must show all that there is, flaunt it before our eyes like a banner to compel our conversion to Him . . . . But God does not approach us as a propagandist; He approaches us as a lover.
Explaining further, Houselander notices how God does good in stealth and silence:
He is as silent, as secret, and hidden, in the Host as He was in Advent or in the tomb.
It has always been Christ’s way to come first in secret, to come in a hidden way, to be secret even in those in whom He abides, whose life He is, to be known first by His love…
God approaches gently, often secretly, always in love, never through violence and fear.
Seek and You Shall Find
God’s miracles, then, the proofs of God’s mysterious love, come as revelations that evoke wonder. They approach without fanfare, advance publicity, announcements, or advertising. They occur in the humble circumstances of ordinary life, whether people are at a wedding, fishing, or eating.
In quiet awe these miracles speak powerfully and clearly a simple message: God reserves the riches of his miraculous powers for those who ask him, approach him, follow him, and believe in him. Christ is waiting to change the water into wine, but someone must intercede and say, “They have no wine.” Christ is ready to feed the thousands, but someone must bring a few loaves and a handful of fish.
Christ is willing to reward his followers a hundredfold, but they must first feed and clothe the least of their brethren. Christ desires the disciples to fill their nets, but they must first cast them in the place he chooses. Christ yearns to grant the rich young man eternal life, but the wealthy man must first detach himself from his wealth.
God, like the father of the prodigal son, wants to regale his son with a sumptuous banquet, but the son must first seek forgiveness. Christ always heals the blind, the lame, the deaf, and the possessed, but they must first demonstrate “great faith.” Christ offers sanctifying grace and divine life through the sacraments, but man must thirst for these heavenly gifts, as the woman at the well yearned for the living water. (John 4:15; 7:37).
In other words, miracles are the fruit of the mutual giving and receiving of love.
Magic in the Wilderness
The signs and wonders which the crowds craved, however, lacked this reciprocity of love. The crowds only wanted to receive, not to give; they were disposed for diversion, not for gratitude. Like propaganda, the magic which Satan tempted Christ to perform in the wilderness appealed to fame and vainglory, not the humble desire to know the goodness of God’s love.
God does not change stones into bread as Satan proposed, but he converts the water into the wine when His Blessed Mother intervened. In the wilderness, there was no urgent need (Jesus was intentionally fasting) and no human petition, but at Cana the guests were thirsty, and the reciprocal love of mother and son inspired the miracle.
Satan’s intention was temptation, but the Blessed Mother’s motive was love.
Thus when God in his compassion sees hunger, thirst, need, or suffering, he reciprocates through miracles that manifest his infinite generosity and in exhaustible abundance gives increase to man’s portion.
When men heed the Virgin’s words and “do whatever he tells you,” when they keep the Commandments, imitate Christ, pray, and have faith, there is no conceivable limit to God’s love and its power of multiplication. “Do whatever he tells you” can mean any number of things: to fill jars with water, to cast nets in another part of the sea, to bring him five loaves, or to go and sin no more.
It can also mean to keep holy the Sabbath, to confess sins, to forgive one another, to love one another as Christ loved us, to be fruitful and multiply, or to keep together what God has joined.
This is the small price man pays for the miracles of God’s fatherly love in all its fruitfulness: “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (I Corinthians 2:6).