Water into Wine: the Miracle of Cana and Intercessory Prayer

We are barely into Ordinary Time yet already we have the miracle of Cana to lift our hearts and minds. Water becomes wine at Jesus’ word, and in such abundance that everyone is amazed. It would be easy to say life is like that, a constant changing of the ordinary into the extraordinary, sorrow into joy. At one level, that would be true; but how many of us would claim that was really our own experience? I suspect most of us would admit to finding life rather more like the curate’s egg: good in parts, sometimes rather inexplicably scrambled, generally unpredictable and occasionally very nasty. Perhaps we have listened to too many sermons trying to instil a sense of our living in the best of all possible worlds to free ourselves entirely from the idea that we ought to relate to the gospel story in a certain way. For me, the real miracle of Cana is its ordinariness, and what it teaches us about intercessory prayer.

Jesus is at a wedding; the hosts have under-catered; Mary notices (because women do notice these things) and urges her son to help but gets a dusty answer in return (Jesus must have been enjoying the party, and what young man wants his mother to intervene at party-time). But it doesn’t end there. Mary tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them. She isn’t put off by his apparent unresponsiveness. I think that is how most of us intercede for others, or indeed ourselves. We aren’t put off by God’s apparent lack of responsiveness. We just keep trying to pray, dimly aware that somehow God is involved and will answer the prayer he has inspired us to make. I don’t suppose Mary knew in advance what Jesus would do, and I certainly don’t think she gave him a detailed programme of what she wanted him to do. She simply told him there was a need, reassured the servants, and waited. We can learn from that. We don’t need to tell God what to do when we intercede with him, but we may need to reassure others, and we certainly must be prepared to wait. When the miracle comes — and it will — it may not be the one we expected or wanted, but it will transform things. It may be a sign we do not understand or which we misinterpret or even fail to notice, but it will be there. The miracle of Cana is for all time.


6 thoughts on “Water into Wine: the Miracle of Cana and Intercessory Prayer”

  1. Our adult son was estranged from our entire family for a period of just over six years due to alcoholism, his life in a mess. In fact, he’d moved to another part of the country during that time with no goodbye or forwarding address.

    Needless to say we all had been praying for his healing, for the healing of our pain over his estrangement and the wound caused by his state of mind and health. Over the years I tried to imagine what a rapprochement would look like, should it ever occur, several scenarios playing out in my imagination. None seemed possible.

    In the end I stopped praying for this and prayed instead that God would simply keep him in His care and allow our family to move forward in peace and love. Imagine my shock when one year ago he called out of the blue with a “Hi Mom, it’s been a while and I thought I’d better call so we could catch up.” He was well, having achieved sobriety some time earlier, had a responsible job, his marriage stable and our grandchildren healthy and happy, his faith intact and being lived out. We’ve spent the past year catching up and thanking God for this miracle.

    What struck me then and still does was how easy it was to reconnect, how those six years of absence and pain melted away, how ordinary it felt and still does feel. So yes, Sister, waiting patiently is key to being prepared to receive a miracle, and miracles do happen just as surely as they did 2,000 years ago. Thanks be to God!

  2. Thank you! How true but often I haven’t thought that way. The Lord ALWAYS answers, but as He thinks best which maybe is not in a way I would ever have imagined !

    It has been sometimes a LONG time in coming but does He ever propose something which would not be a good thing, or bring peace …..

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