When the Marriage Wine Runs Low

"When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim." John 2:3-7

This first recorded miracle of Jesus is so rich and dense with layers and layers of truth and meaning.  Mary's presence and intercession, Jesus seeming to change His mind at the request of His mother, the importance of marriage to God, the beginning of Jesus' public ministry at a marriage feast.  So much.  But this week as the Gospel settled in my soul post Mass, something new hit me that I don't remember ever seeing in the story:
He could have just filled those empty jars right then and there with new wine.

He could have seen the need, the empty cups and dry jars, the worry of the hosts, the possible humiliation of the couple, family, and servants and then bam!  New wine in all the jars.  Hooray!  Everyone's happy again.
But He doesn't do that.

He requires them to act.

They need to ask and not just ask, they then need to do something about it...they have a part to play in the miracle.  The servants are told to fill the jars with regular old water, which, when I think of it, probably wasn't all that easy.  Those jars were huge and probably ridiculously heavy and who knows how far the well was from that party?  
But that was their part to play.  
Do you want this?  Will you work for it? 
Grace is free, yes.  But over and over throughout the Scriptures, Christ requires an effort put in before He fills in with the miracle - mud in the eyes, a hole in the roof, a touch of the hem, a father traveling how many miles to find Jesus and intercede.
For this miracle at the marriage feast, He says the jars need to be filled.

Am I filling my jars?

When we are feeling dryness in our marriage, when things aren't clicking, when the temptations to blame or hold grudges surface, do I just expect the Lord to bam, make the wine appear at my behest?  Or am I willing to do my part, too?  When we're thirsty, am I willing to bring the water first?

 If I'm to be honest, I'm often not willing to do the hard work of water filling.  The water seems too far, my shoulders ache, or it feels like the weight of the jugs is irritating old wounds and scars.  Far too often I'm guilty of sprinkling in a few wimpy drops and then complaining when nothing changes.   Maybe we can just settle for a glass of whatever's left.  But the Lord is willing and wanting to fill us with new wine.  In Scriptural terms, wine equals joy and life and refreshment and abundance!  Do I want that in my marriage?  Really want it?  Then I need to be willing to do whatever He tells me.  I need to be willing to fill the jars.

If I expect Him to work miracles in my marriage or anything really, I have to bring Him the water first - my full, albeit human efforts and work.  The conversations that need to be had, the sacrifices, the prioritizing, the prayer.  They will always be imperfect, yes, but if I expect the supernatural, perhaps first I need to give Him my own natural efforts first.  Perhaps it is only when I bring Him the water that He will have something to work with.

As we've worked through this Beloved series, I'm realizing just how lazy I can be.  I say I want something but actually doing the work to get there?  I balk.  I whine or complain or make excuses or blame.  I allow old wounds or hurts or the many obligations of life to get in the way of the true work of marriage.  I call it just a phase when it's a phase of my own making.
I settle for the water when He wants to pour down wine.  

In the first few sessions of Beloved the beautiful outline of God's plan for marriage from the beginning is revealed and discussed.  I'm realizing that since I've "heard it all before" I've become complacent in my pursuit of it.  I've read Theology of the Body, I've taught it, I know the basics theoretically and academically and I fall into the temptation of thinking that that means I know it.  Ha!  But there's part of me that is content in that.  All the knowledge of God's plan for marriage in the world means nothing if I don't do my best to live it both with Him and with him.

The Gospel reading from yesterday was a reminder of that truth.  He wants wine for us.  He wants joy and abundance and holiness in our marriages.  But it doesn't just happen.  I have to do the work of marriage.  If I want to see the fullness of the marriage He wants for us, then I have to do whatever He tells me, filling up the water jugs and bringing them to Him so He can turn them to wine.

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{for my original review of the Beloved series, please click here.}


  1. We chose this gospel for our marriage.
    The priest said never forget to ask Mary to have Her Son fill up the jars with wine. He too He must hobey His Mother...

    1. Yes, the power of her intercession is so apparent in this Scripture!

  2. This is beautiful. The readings from this weekend were the exact ones that we chose for our wedding. Going back and reflecting on them time and time again is helpful. Yes, I need to do the work as well. Oh, the ache of the tired shoulders some days.

    1. Thanks, Ann-Marie. So awesome that you had them all for your wedding Mass! Achy shoulders unite ;)


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