The First Miracle
Second Sunday after Epiphany
Comprehensive Catholic Commentary
Fr. George Leo Haydock
Editor's Note: For the Second Sunday after Epiphany, the topic is love and miracles with the Wedding Feast of Cana in which Christ performed His first public miracle and the Haydock Commentary treats the whys and wherefores of the loving relationship between Mother and Son and His willingness to honor her by changing water into wine, a precursor to the transubstantiation of the wine into the Blood of Christ at the Consecration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the most loving gift He could bestow to His children whom St. Paul entreats in his epistle to love one another as our Lord loves us.
Epistle: Romans 12: 6-16
6 And having gifts different, according to the grace that is given us, whether prophecy, according to the proportion of faith,
7 Or ministry, in ministering: or he that teacheth, in doctrine,
8 He that exhorteth in exhorting; he that giveth with simplicity; he that ruleth with solicitude, he that sheweth mercy with cheerfulness.
9 Love without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, adhering to that which is good:
Commentary on Verse 9 The apostle does not here prohibit that defense, by which a person, either by word or action, preserves himself from injury. This he could not condemn, since he had so often recourse to it himself, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles: and in the second epistle to Timothy, he writes: "In my first defense no one was with me." Be he only forbids that revenge which a person takes of his neighbor, by private means, without having recourse to legal authority. (Estius)
10 Loving one another with brotherly love; in honor preventing one another:
11 In solicitude not slothful: in spirit fervent: serving the Lord:
12 Rejoicing in hope: patient in tribulation: instant in prayer:
13 Communicating to the necessities of the saints: pursuing hospitality.
Commentary on Verse 13 CommunicatingCommunicantes; koinonountes. Koinonein is often used by St. Paul for making others sharers by giving to them.] to the necessities of the saints. Making them partakers of what you have, by relieving them. (Witham)
14 Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not.
15 Rejoice with them that rejoice, weep with them that weep:
16 Being of one mind one towards another: not high-minded: but condescending to the humble.
Commentary on Verse 16 Condescending to the humble, in the spirit of charity and sweetness. See Luke ii. 48. (Witham)
Gospel: St. John 2: 1-11
1 At that time there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there.
Commentary on Verse 1 The Mother of Jesus was present. It is supposed she was then a widow, since in all the rest of the history of Jesus, not a single word occurs respecting St. Joseph. (Calmet)
2 And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage.
3 And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to Him: They have no wine.
Commentary on Verse 3 They have no wine. The blessed virgin Mother was not ignorant of the divine power of her Son, and that the time was come when He designed to make Himself known to the world. She could not make her request in more modest terms. (Witham)
4 Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is it to Me and to thee? My hour is not yet come.
Commentary on Verse 4 Some of the Fathers have spoken without sufficient precaution on this action of the blessed Virgin; supposing she was actuated by some inclination to vanity, in begging her Son to perform a miracle on this occasion; that some of the glory of it might accrue to her, and that on this account our Savior answers her with severity, saying, Woman, (not Mother) what is it to thee or Me. Other Fathers, with more reason, attribute the interference of the blessed Virgin to her charity and compassion for the new married couple. Whatever turn be given to our Savior's answer, it must be acknowledged it has in it the appearance of something severe. But the Fathers have explained it with mildness, observing that our Savior only meant to say, Mother, what affair is it of ours if they want wine? Ought we to concern ourselves about that? Others think that He wished, by these words, to let his Mother know that she must not forestall the time appointed by the heavenly Father, as if her demand were unseasonable and out of time. But most of the Fathers and best commentators understand, that He speaks here not as man and Son of Mary, but as God; and in that quality, He observes to his Mother, I have nothing in common with you. It is not for you to prescribe when miracles are to be performed, which are not to be expected in compliance with any human respect. I know when My power is to be manifested for the greater glory of God. (Calmet) ---See the like forms of speech, Mark i. 24; Luke iv. 34; &c. --- My hour is not yet come. It is not yet time. He waited till the wine was quite done, lest any should believe that he had only increased the quantity, or had only mixed water with the wine. He would have His first miracle to be incontestable, and that all the company should be witnesses of it. (St. Augustine, et alii patres passim. --- Christ's first miracle in the New Testament, was a kind of transubstantiation in changing water into wine; the first miracle Moses performed when sent to the Jews, was transubstantiation. (Exodus iv.) The first Moses and Aaron performed, when sent to the Egyptians, was transubstantiation. (Exodus vii.)
5 His mother saith to the waiters: Whatever He shall say to you, do ye.
6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures a-piece.
Commentary on Verse 6 Two or three measures, called metreta. Both the Latin and Greek text, by the derivation, may signify a measure in general, according to the Rhemish translation: but metreta was a particular measure of liquids: yet, not corresponding to our firkins, I could not think it proper with the Protestant and M. N. to put two or three firkins. (Witham)
7 Jesus saith to them: Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
8 And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it.
9 And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water, the chief steward calleth the bridegroom,
10 And saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, that that which is worse: But thou hast kept the good wine until now.
Commentary on Verse 10 When men have well drank, or plentifully; this is the literal sense: nor need we translate, when they are drunk, being spoken of such company, where our Savior, Christ, His blessed Mother, and His disciples, were present. See Genesis xliii. 34; 1 Machabees xvi. ver. 16, where the same word may be taken in the same sense. (Witham)
11 This beginning of the miracles did Jesus in Cana, of Galilee: and He manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.
Commentary on Verse 11 This was the first miracle which Jesus had performed in public, and to manifest His glory; but Maldonatus is of opinion that He had before wrought many miracles, known to the blessed Virgin and St. Joseph; which gave her the confidence to ask one now. This opinion is no way contrary to the evangelist. His disciples believed in Him. They had believed in Him before or they would not have followed Him. This confirmed their faith. (Calmet) http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2018.htm#article2Article 2. Whether the good or evil of a man's action is derived from its object?Objection 1.
It would seem that the good or evil of an action is not derived from its object. For the object of any action is a thing. But "evil is not in things, but in the sinner's use of them," as Augustine says (De Doctr. Christ. iii, 12). Therefore the good or evil of a human action is not derived from their object.Objection 2.
Further, the object is compared to the action as its matter. But the goodness of a thing is not from its matter, but rather from the form, which is an act. Therefore good and evil in actions is not derived from their object.
Further, the object of an active power is compared to the action as effect to cause. But the goodness of a cause does not depend on its effect; rather is it the reverse. Therefore good or evil in actions is not derived from their object.
On the contrary,
It is written (Hosea 9:10): "They became abominable as those things which they loved." Now man becomes abominable to God on account of the malice of his action. Therefore the malice of his action is according to the evil objects that man loves. And the same applies to the goodness of his action.I answer that,
as stated above (Article 1) the good or evil of an action, as of other things, depends on its fulness of being or its lack of that fulness. Now the first thing that belongs to the fulness of being seems to be that which gives a thing its species. And just as a natural thing has its species from its form, so an action has its species from its object, as movement from its term. And therefore just as the primary goodness of a natural thing is derived from its form, which gives it its species, so the primary goodness of a moral action is derived from its suitable object: hence some call such an action "good in its genus"; for instance, "to make use of what is one's own." And just as, in natural things, the primary evil is when a generated thing does not realize its specific form (for instance, if instead of a man, something else be generated); so the primary evil in moral actions is that which is from the object, for instance, "to take what belongs to another." And this action is said to be "evil in its genus," genus here standing for species, just as we apply the term "mankind" to the whole human species.Reply to Objection 1.
Although external things are good in themselves, nevertheless they have not always a due proportion to this or that action. And so, inasmuch as they are considered as objects of such actions, they have not the quality of goodness.Reply to Objection 2
. The object is not the matter "of which" (a thing is made), but the matter "about which" (something is done); and stands in relation to the act as its form, as it were, through giving it its species.Reply to Objection 3.
The object of the human action is not always the object of an active power. For the appetitive power is, in a way, passive; in so far as it is moved by the appetible object; and yet it is a principle of human actions. Nor again have the objects of the active powers always the nature of an effect, but only when they are already transformed: thus food when transformed is the effect of the nutritive power; whereas food before being transformed stands in relation to the nutritive power as the matter about which it exercises its operation. Now since the object is in some way the effect of the active power, it follows that it is the term of its action, and consequently that it gives it its form and species, since movement derives its species from its term. Moreover, although the goodness of an action is not caused by the goodness of its effect, yet an action is said to be good from the fact that it can produce a good effect. Consequently the very proportion of an action to its effect is the measure of its goodness.