The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 2:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 17, 2013

Jn 2:1-3  .  And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus was called, and His disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto Him, They have no wine.

Seasonably comes He at length, to the beginning of miracles, even if He seems to have been called to it without set purpose. For a marriage feast being held (it is clear that it was altogether holily), the mother of the Saviour is present, and Himself also being bidden comes together with His own disciples, to work miracles rather than to feast with them, and yet more to sanctify the very beginning of the birth of man: I mean so far as appertains to the flesh. For it was fitting that He, Who was renewing the very nature of man, and refashioning it all for the better, should not only impart His blessing to those already called into being, but also prepare before grace for those soon to be born, and make holy their entrance into being.

Receive also yet a third reason. It had been said to the woman by God, In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children. How then was it not needful that we should thrust off this curse too, or how else could we escape a condemned marriage? This too the Saviour, being loving to man, removes. For He, the Delight and Joy of all, honoured marriage with His Presence, that He might expel the old shame of child-bearing. For if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; and old things are passed away, as Paul saith, they are become new. He cometh therefore with. His disciples to the marriage. For it was needful that the lovers of miracles should be present with the Wonderworker, to collect what was wrought as a kind of food to their faith. But when wine failed the feasters, His mother called the Lord being good according to His wonted Love for man, saying, They have no wine. For since it was in His Power to do whatsoever He would, she urges Him to the miracle.

4 Jesus saith unto her Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.

Most excellently did the Saviour fashion for us this |156 discourse also. For it behoved Him not to come hastily to action, nor to appear a Worker of miracles as though of His Own accord, but, being called, hardly to come thereto, and to grant the grace to the necessity rather than to the lookers on. But the issue of things longed for seems somehow to be even more grateful, when granted not off-hand to those who ask for it, but through a little delay put forth to most lovely hope. Besides, Christ hereby shews that the deepest honour is due to parents, admitting out of reverence to His Mother what He willed not as yet to do.

5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever He saith unto you, do.

The woman having great influence to the performing of the miracle, prevailed, persuading the Lord, on account of what was fitting, as her Son. She begins the work by preparing the servants of the assembly to obey the things that should be enjoined.

7, 8, 9, 10 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And He saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was (but the servants which drew the water knew); the governor of the feast called the bridegroom and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

The ministers accomplish what is commanded, and by unspeakable might was the water changed into wine. For what is hard to Him Who can do all things? He that calleth into being things which are not, how will He weary, trans-ordering into what He will things already made? They marvel at the thing, as strange; for such are Christ’s works to look upon. But the governor of the feast charges the bridegroom with expending what was better on the latter end of the feast, not unfitly, as appears to me, according to the narration of the story. |157

11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory, and His disciples believed on Him.

Many most excellent things were accomplished at once through the one first miracle. For honourable marriage was sanctified, the curse on women put away (for no more in sorrow shall they bring forth children, now Christ has blessed the very beginning of our birth), and the glory of our Saviour shone forth as the sun’s rays, and more than this, the disciples are confirmed in faith by the miracle.

The historical account then will stop here, but I think we ought to consider the other view of what has been said, and to say what is therein signified. The Word of God came down then from Heaven, as He Himself saith, in order that having as a Bridegroom, made human nature His own, He might persuade it to bring forth the spiritual offspring of Wisdom. And hence reasonably is the human nature called the bride, the Saviour the Bridegroom; since holy Scripture carries up language from human things to a meaning that is above us. The marriage is consummated on the third day, that is, in the last times of the present world: for the number three gives us beginning, middle, end. For thus is the whole of time measured. And in harmony with this do we see that which is said by one of the prophets, He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us, in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His Sight. Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord; His going forth is prepared as the morning. For He smote us for the transgression of Adam, saying, Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. That which was smitten by corruption and death He bound up on the third day: that is, not in the first, or in the middle, but in the last ages, when for us made Man, He rendered all our nature whole, raising it from the dead in Himself. Wherefore He is also called the Firstfruits of them that slept. Therefore in saying it was the third day, whereon the marriage was being consummated, he signifies the last time. He mentions the place too; for he says it was in Cana of |158 Galilee. Let him that loves learning again note well: for not in Jerusalem is the gathering, but without Judaea is the feast celebrated, as it were in the country of the Gentiles. For it is Galilee of the gentiles, as the prophet saith. It is I suppose altogether plain, that the synagogue of the Jews rejected the Bridegroom from Heaven, and that the church of the Gentiles received Him, and that very gladly. The Saviour comes to the marriage not of His own accord; for He was being bidden by many voices of the Saints. But wine failed the feasters; for the law perfected nothing, the Mosaic writing sufficed not for perfect enjoyment, but neither did the measure of implanted sobriety reach forth so as to be able to save us. It was therefore true to say of us too, They have no wine. But the BounteousGod doth not overlook our nature worn out with want of good things. He set forth wine better than the first, for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. And the law hath no perfection in good things, but the Divine instructions of Gospel teaching bring in fullest blessing. The ruler of the feast marvels at the wine: for every one, I suppose, of those ordained to the Divine Priesthood, and entrusted with the house of our Saviour Christ, is astonished at His doctrine which is above the Law. But Christ commandeth it to be given to him first, because, according to the voice of Paul, The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits. And let the hearer again consider what I say. (source)

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