The Miracle at Cana and the Supernatural Life of Grace
by the supernatural power of Christ, transformed into the choicest of wines. The wine might be considered our human nature, specifically our soul, infused with sanctifying grace, and living the life of the Spirit, a "new creation."
Several things might be gained from this. First, one might note Mary's role in this transformation of the natural life into the supernatural life, in the changing of the water of our human nature into the wine of a human nature supernaturalized or perfected by the grace of God. It is her mediation in the life of grace that has resulted in her being referred to as the mediatrix of all graces. Mary plays the role in heaven that she played on earth in Cana. This is part of the "sign" or semeion St. John wants to communicate to his readers.
To be sure, Jesus plays the major part in the transformation of water into wine like He does in the transformation of human nature into the life of grace. It is not Mary who transforms the water into wine, and Mary's role, both at Cana in the supernatural realm, is clearly subordinate to Christ. However, Christ is most responsive to His mother's mediatory role, and it would be an error to minimize the importance of her role for fear of detracting from Christ. Jesus and Mary are not competitors, but cooperators, one may say even partners, in the life of grace and its dispensation to all mankind.
Importantly, the wine does not entail a full destruction of water. Wine is composed of a huge percentage of water along with alcohol and other sugars, acids, enzymes, and other nutrients. Yet wine is not water mixed with this other ingredients, wine is a substance in and of itself really different than water.
When human nature enters into the life of grace, it is not human nature with ingredients added. There is a full transformation of that human nature--without destruction of that human nature--into something new entirely.
Vinum praesupponit aquam. Wine presupposes water. Vinum non destruit, sed supponit et perficit aquam. Wine does not destroy, but supposes and perfects water. Vinum elevat aquam. Wine elevates water.
Don't the formulas that relate human nature with grace fit neatly into the relationship of water and wine and Christ's miracle at Cana? This appears to be another message of the "sign" or semeion that John may be communicating to us.
There seems to be an additional "sign" involved. St. John observes that the water that Jesus changed into the choicest of wines is much better than the wine that had been served to the guests before this new wine. It would appear, that the choice wine is compared to the old wine.
Is this not a sign that the life under grace brought to us by Christ, a life sub gratia, is superior to any sort of life under law, sub lege? Life under the Mosaic dispensation, the life sub lege, is something more than mere human nature (water); it is, after all wine. But life under the Christian dispensation, the life sub gratia, is something far better than the life sub lege. The difference between the life sub lege and the life sub gratia, between the inferior wine and the superior wine, is Christ.
Even if it were possible to live our live in conformity with the natural moral law, something exceedingly difficult given that we suffer from original sin, it would avail us nothing in terms of the supernatural life of grace. While compliance with the natural moral law is necessary for salvation, it is not sufficient. In abiding by the natural law, we would live the life of water, a life of water with various levels of impurities, a life of water which even Plato or Socrates did not escape.
The life of grace is necessary for salvation, and if the natural moral law is complied with, both necessary and sufficient for salvation. And this combination of nature and supernature is only wrought by the one who wrought the miracle, the "sign" or semeion, in Cana of Galilee.
What Jesus wrought in that small town of Cana of Galilee at the behest of the Blessed Virgin Mary, He does to every soul who asks for something more than the water of a natural life, who also asks for the superior wine of the supernatural life of grace.
Mary! Ask that Jesus change me from water into wine!
Jesus! Listen to your mother, and change me from water into wine!
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: grace, nature, supernatural life, sanctifying grace, Cana, signs
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