The wine steward at this wedding in Cana understands how things are supposed to be done. You serve the choice wine first while the people are still sober enough to recognize and appreciate its flavor and aroma. Then as the party continues into the second and third days : not at all unusual for wedding celebrations of the time : you serve inferior, less costly wines because by then guests have lost much of their taste sensitivity. But that's not what happens at this wedding. Someone must have gotten the wine jugs mixed up because the choice wine is being served last!
This wine steward is the first person recorded in John's Gospel to embrace the paradox of Jesus' kingdom: the last will be first, and the first last, and the choice wine comes to you when you least expect it. The wine steward, more interested in serving the guests than in probing the event, hurries off to quench the thirst of the wedding guests. But the disciples of Jesus have time to think about what happened, about this marvelous display of Jesus' authority over the elements of water and wine. We, as disciples of Jesus, ought to be thinking a lot about things and about the world we live in : a place of beauty, yes, but also a place of immanent threat and danger to us all.
The tragedy in Haiti this past week is a case in point and it confuses me: tens of thousands of extremely poor people killed in a horrible natural disaster, and more tens of thousands lying wounded and helpless. What kind of God allows this? If God is almighty and all-powerful, then why does this happen? My personal conclusion is that God is not almighty and all-powerful. I believe that people in the past needed to think God was almighty, so they attached that quality to God. The phrase "almighty God" still appears in many of our church prayers. I believe that kings, generals and popes of the past used the idea of an all-powerful God to mobilize people against real or imagined enemies so that they themselves could become all-powerful and mighty. This "Almighty God" tag is, in my opinion, a human creation that does not stand up well under careful scrutiny and the test of time.
Jesus never tells us God is all-powerful. He shows us that our God is compassionate and merciful. John tells us that God is Love, and wherever love exists, God is there! St. Paul tells us that God is the "very ground of our being." God is not alien to us. God is in everything that is, in everyone that lives. God is in Haiti not as the all-powerful one, but as One that suffers and cries with the people there. God is in the emergency personnel who come to their aid. This is the God I believe in and commit my life to. This is the God whose face is that of Jesus, the Christ! Jesus' own life among us was one of simple pleasures and profound disappointments. He never relied upon God's might; he relied constantly on God's compassion and merciful love. In the Creed each Sunday we profess we journey with Jesus "through suffering and death to resurrection." This is our life story! And if on the way, a choice wine comes to us when we least expect it, we drink it down and thank our loving God, the One who laughs with us in our joys and cries with us in our pains.