Wedding at Cana                                   Carl Bloch

   

I see a house which seems to be on the outskirts of Cana: a house owned by farmers who live in the middle of their holding. The country stretches calm and green far beyond the house.  The sun is shining in a completely blue sky. At first I do not see anything else. There is no one near the house.

Then I see two women, with long dresses and mantles that also cover their heads like veils, walking along the road and then on the path.  One is older than the other: about fifty years old, with a dark dress, the grey-brown hue of raw wool.  The other woman is wearing lighter garments: a pale yellow dress and a blue mantle. She looks about thirty-five years old.  She is really beautiful, slender, and her carriage is most dignified, although she is most kind and humble.  When she is nearer, I notice her pale face, her blue eyes and her blond hair visible on her forehead. I recognize Mary, the mother of Jesus.  I do not know who the other older woman is.  They are speaking to each other and Mary smiles.  When they are near the house, someone, who is obviously watching the arrival of the guests, informs the others in the house, and two men and two women, all in their best clothes, go to meet them.  They give the two women and particularly Mary a most warm welcome.

Mary, Who is most warmly welcomed and is escorted by an elderly man who appears to be the landlord, climbs up the outside staircase and enters a large hall which seems to fill the whole of the house upstairs, or most of it.

If I am correct, the rooms on the ground floor are the ones where they actually live, where they have their store-room, wine cellar, whereas the hail upstairs is used on special occasions, such as feast days, or for tasks which require a lot of space, such as drying and pressing foodstuffs.  For special celebrations the hall is cleared of every object and then decorated, as it is today, with green branches, mats and tables prepared with rich dishes. In the center there is a richly laid table with amphorae and plates full of fruit.  Along the right-hand side wall, in respect to me, there is another table already prepared, but not so sumptuously.  On the left-hand side, there is a kind of long dresser with plates of cheese and other foodstuffs, which look like cakes covered with honey and sweetmeats.  On the floor, near the same wall, there are more amphorae and six large vases, shaped more or less like copper pitchers.  I would call them jars.

Mary listens benignly to what they are telling Her, then She takes off Her mantle and kindly helps to finish laying the tables.  I see Her going to and fro sorting out the bed-seats, straightening up the wreaths of flowers, improving the appearance of the fruit dishes, making sure that the lamps are filled with oil.  She smiles, speaks very little and in a very low voice.  Instead She listens a lot and with so much patience.

A loud sound of musical instruments (not very harmonious) is heard coming from the road.  They all rush out, with the exception of Mary. I see the bride come in, smartly dressed and happy, surrounded by relatives and friends. The bridegroom, who was the first to rush out and meet her, is now beside Her.

At this point there is a change in the vision. Instead of the house I see a village.  I do not know whether it is Cana or a nearby village.  And I see Jesus with John and another man, who I think is Judas Thaddeus, but I may be wrong. I am sure about John.  Jesus is wearing a white tunic and a dark blue mantle. When he hears the sound of the instruments, Jesus' companion questions a man about something and then tells Jesus. Then Jesus, smiling, says: "Let us go and make My mother happy."  And He starts walking across the fields towards the house, with His two companions."

I forgot to mention that it is my impression that Mary is either a relation or a close friend of the bridegroom's relatives, because She is on familiar terms with them.

When Jesus arrives, the same watchman as before, informs the others.  The landlord, with his son, the bridegroom, and Mary goes down to meet Him, and greets Him respectfully.  He then greets the other two and so does the bridegroom.  But what I like is the loving and respectful way in which Jesus and Mary exchange their greetings.  There are no effusions, but the words Peace be with You are pronounced with a look and a smile worth one hundred embraces and one hundred kisses.  A kiss trembles on Mary's lips, but it is not given.  She only lays her little white hand on Jesus' shoulder and lightly touches a curl of His long hair.  The caress of a chaste lover.

Jesus climbs the staircase beside His mother, followed by His disciples, the landlord and the groom and enters the banquet hail, where the women start bustling about, adding seats and plates for the three guests, who, apparently, were not expected. I would say that Jesus' coming was uncertain and the arrival of His companions was completely unforeseen.

I can distinctly hear the Master's full, virile, most sweet voice say on entering the hall:  "May peace be in this house and the blessing of God on you all."  A greeting of majesty addressed to all the people present.  Jesus dominates everybody with His bearing and His height.  He is a guest, and a casual one, but He seems to be the king of the banquet, more than the groom, more than the landlord.  No matter how humble and obliging, He is the one who dominates.

Jesus sits at the central table with the bride and the bridegroom, their relatives and the most influential friends. The two disciples are also invited to sit at the same table, out of respect for Jesus.

Jesus' back is turned to the wall where the large jars and the dresser are. He therefore cannot see them, neither can He see the steward bustling about the dishes of roast meat, which are brought in through a little door near the dresser.

I notice one thing.  With the exception of the mothers of the young couple and of Mary, no woman is sitting at that table.  All the women, who are making a din worthy of one hundred people, are sitting at the other table near the wall, and are served after the young couple and the guests of importance.  Jesus is sitting near the landlord, in front of Mary, Whose place is near the bride.

The banquet starts.  And I can assure you that they lack neither appetite nor thirst. The ones who eat and drink little are Jesus and His mother, who speaks also very little.  Jesus talks a little more.  But although very moderate, He is neither sullen nor disdainful in the little He says.  He is kind, but not talkative.  He answers when He is questioned, when they speak to Him, He takes an interest in the subject, he states His opinion, but then He concentrates on His thoughts, like one accustomed to meditation.  He smiles, He never laughs.  If He hears any inconsiderate joke, He pretends He has not heard.  Mary is nourished by the contemplation of her Jesus, and so is John, who is at the end of the table and hangs on His Master's lips.

Mary notices that the servants are talking in low voices to the steward, who looks very embarrassed and She understands what the cause of the unpleasant situation is. "Son", She whispers in a low voice, thus drawing Jesus' attention. Son, they have no more wine."

"Woman, what is there still between Me and You?" Jesus, when saying these words, smiles even more gently, and Mary smiles too, like two people aware of some truth which is their joyful secret and is ignored by everyone else.

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Jesus explains the meaning of the sentence to me.

"That "still", which is omitted by many translators, is the keyword of the sentence and explains its true meaning.

I was the Son, submissive to My mother, up to the moment when the will of My Father told Me that the hour had come when I was to be the Master. From the moment My mission started, I was no longer the Son submissive to My mother, but I was the Servant of God. My moral ties with My mother were broken. They had turned into higher bonds, all of a spiritual nature. I always called Mary, My Holy "mother". Our love suffered no interruptions, neither did it even cool down, nay, it was never so perfect as when I was separated from her as by a second birth and she gave Me to the world and for the world, as the Messiah and Evangeliser.  Her third sublime mystical maternity took place when she bore Me to the cross in the torture of Golgotha, and made Me the Redeemer of the world.

"What is there still between Me and You?" Before I was Yours, only Yours. You gave Me orders, and I obeyed You. I was "subject" to You. Now I belong to My mission.

Did I not say: "He, who lays his hand on the plough and looks back to bid farewell to those who are staying, is not fit for the Kingdom of God"?  I had laid My hand on the plough not to cut the ground with the ploughshare, but to open the hearts of men and sow there the word of God.  I was to take My hand away from the plough only when they would tear it away to nail it to the Cross and to open with My torturing nail My Father's heart, out of which forgiveness for mankind was to flow.

That "still", forgotten by most, meant this: "You were everything for Me, Mother, as long as I was only Jesus of Mary of Nazareth, and You are everything in My spirit; but since I became the expected Messiah, I belong to My Father."

That is the sense of that short but so full of meaning "still".

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Mary says to the servants: Do what He will tell you. In the smiling eyes of her Son, Mary has read His consent, veiled by the great teaching to all those who are called.

And Jesus says to the servants:  "Fill the jars with water."

I see the servants filling the jars with water brought from the well  (I hear the pulley screeching as the dripping pail is pulled up and lowered down).  I see the steward pour out some of the liquid with astonished eyes, then taste it with gestures of even greater astonishment, relish it and speak to the landlord and the groom (they were near each other).

Mary looks at her Son once again, and smiles; then having received a smile from Him, She bows her head, blushing slightly. She is happy.

A murmur spreads throughout the hall, they all turn their heads towards Jesus and Mary, some stand up to get a better view, some go near the jars.  Then a moment's silence, which is immediately broken by an outburst of praises for Jesus.

He stands up and simply says: "Thank Mary" and withdraws from the banquet.  His disciples follow Him.  On the threshold He repeats:  May peace be in this house and God's blessing on you and He adds: "Goodbye, Mother."

The vision ends. 

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 Jesus teaches me as follows:

When I said to My disciples: "Let us go and make My Mother happy", I had given the sentence a deeper meaning than it seemed.  I did not mean the happiness of seeing Me, but the joy of being the initiatress of My miraculous activity and the first benefactress of mankind.

Always remember that.  My first miracle happened because of Mary.  The very first one.  It is a symbol that Mary is the key to miracles.  I never refuse My Mother anything and because of Her prayer I bring forward also the time of grace.  I know My Mother, the second in goodness after God.  I know that to grant you a grace is to make Her happy, because She is All Love.  That is why I said, knowing Her: "Let us go and make Her happy."

Besides I wanted to make Her power known to the world together with Mine.  Since She was destined to be joined to Me in the flesh, it was fair She should be joined to Me in the power that is shown to the world.  Because We were one flesh: I in Her, She around Me, like the petals of a lily round its scented lively pistil; and She was united to Me in sorrow: because we were both on the cross, I with My body, She with Her soul, as a lily is scented because of its corolla and because of the essence extracted from it.

I say to you what I said to the other guests: "Thank Mary.  It is through Her that you had with you the Master of the miracle and you have My graces, particularly those of forgiveness."

Rest in peace.  We are with you."

 

Written by Maria Valtorta, January 16, 1944.  Excerpted from POEM OF THE MAN-GOD.

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