St. John the Evangelist is unique among the Gospel writers in that he does not include the actual words of Eucharistic consecration within his Last Supper narrative. “This is my Body…This is the cup of my Blood” are words clearly found in the accounts of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul as well. But St. John does not include them in his rather extensive Eucharistic texts. He devotes his entire chapter six to deepening the Christian belief in the Real Presence: “My flesh is real food and my blood real drink…He who eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him.” And St. John commits five whole chapters, 13 through 17, to the many words of Christ at the Last Supper, yet no mention of the moment of transubstantiation is to be found here.
Indeed St. John must have known that by the time he came to write the words of Eucharistic consecration were well known to the Christian community both through the celebration of Mass itself as well as through the circulation of the other Gospel accounts throughout the Mediterrean world. St. John obviously decided that rather than needlessly repeat the now familiar scene he would instead thoroughly explain the deep meaning of that solemn Eucharistic moment . The evangelist consequently chose to accomplish this feat especially through the celebrated “I am the Bread of Life” episode in chapter six but also through the charming wedding feast at Cana event to be proclaimed at Mass this coming Sunday.
The nuptials at Cana in Galilee were most likely a village-wide enterprise. Consider for starters that Jesus, Mary and the several disciples had been invited. And for further proof that the reception was virtually an open-house affair, remember that the wedding party ran out of wine! This marital gaffe, however, became a providential event allowing the Savior to hint at the splendid vintage that he would offer his Church during his final days on earth.
The miraculous wine at Cana was amazingly abundant. Six twenty-five gallon water jars would today translate into forty cases of wine! The exceptional wine at Cana was also most gratifying. “You’ve saved the best wine until now!” insists the head steward. And the extraordinary wine at Cana was indeed effective. “..and his disciples began to believe in him,” observes St. John at the conclusion of this marvelous event. The Precious Blood of Jesus Christ consumed daily at every Catholic Mass is likewise abundant, also gratifying, and certainly life-changing. Thus the abundant, gratifying, and effective village miracle at Cana resonates daily in the world-wide celebration of Mass.
The Precious Blood of Christ is indeed abundant. Just as the saving distribution of wine at Cana satisfied many, Jesus’ original words of consecration as recalled daily at Mass are an invitation addressed to a broad audience: “Take this, all of you…” And further on, Jesus insists that his Blood has been poured out “for you and for many.” The village-wide celebration at Cana faintly anticipated the world-wide mission of the Church. Cana offered a hint at the Church’s eventual catholicity.
The Precious Blood of Christ would prove ultimately gratifying. His Blood would institute a “new and eternal covenant.” A sip of this chalice would strengthen the believer throughout life in this world and would assure fulfillment in the unending joys of heaven. Indeed the “best wine” has been saved until now.
The Precious Blood of Christ is certainly effective. His Blood would be shed on the Cross and poured out daily at Mass “…for the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus was destined to be a healer. His very name indicated that he would save his people from their sins. He came into this world to eradicate the primeval fault of mankind’s first parents. People who knew Jesus and recognized Jesus and embraced Jesus were indeed changed. They were redeemed; they were healed; they were saved! His Blood poured out has indeed been quite effective.
The offering of the cup to the faithful at Mass fell into desuetude within the Catholic Church probably for practical reasons. The Second Vatican Council restored the rightful proffering of the Precious Blood to all communicants. The recent pandemic has again stalled the full observance of the sacrificial meal. But have no fear! The best wine is still in reserve!