Thursday, April 30, 2009

I was late because Jeff couldn't drop Chris at school for me. Instead of the usual chronological review, beginning in Genesis, up to the book under consideration - which is always very helpful - we reminisced on the life of Christ.1

As I picked up a stick-on name tag, someone mentioned his first miracle, turning the water to wine at, well, she said, Capernaum. Pretty quickly, our leader set her straight. And, even though I've been to a town called Cana - and its church - nobody really knows where the biblical Cana was.

But what is it with this being Jesus' first miracle?

I began to question this bit of common knowledge while watching Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth at church during Advent. Someone objected that the water-turned-wine was his first miracle, but Zeffirelli stages the curing of the demoniac in the synagogue at Capernaum as Jesus' first supernatural manifestation. Are healings not miraculous? Maybe not.

Let's see, I have my Gospel synopsis here and it seems that in calling Simon Peter, James and John, according to Luke, there was a "miraculous" catch of fish. Mark doesn't have it that way. Luke switches Mark's order here, placing the calling of apostles after the healing. And Cana occurs only in John, after the calling of Simon Peter and Andrew.

And yet, Cana is in our minds as Jesus' first "public" miracle, a debut, because (1) of the prominence the Fourth Gospel has always had relative to the Synoptics, (2) of the eucharistic and messianic overtones of the miracle and (3), as John 2:11 puts it:
This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (RSV)

1 I could tell from the items listed on the whiteboard that I just missed the discussion of Jesus' "brothers and sisters."

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