Saturday, January 26, 2013

Samuel visits Cana, part 2

(read part one here)
She took him by the arm and led him through the party-goers to where a strongly built young man was talking quietly with Bar-shemi, the bridegroom. Samuel thought he looked more like someone used to working with his hands than a rabbi.

'It's no good,' said Samuel. 'Even if someone else pays for more wine, Shemi and his family will still be disgraced.' But Mary only laughed.
'Oh, you need not worry about him paying. I doubt my son has a shekel to his name!' 
'But then …?' 
'Shush now. Call some of those other servants here. The ones who are busily trying to look as if they are filling glasses out of empty jugs!' Mary motioned to her son. He raised an eyebrow, but a moment later placed a hand on Bar-shemi's shoulder in farewell, and then came over to where Samuel stood with Mary and the growing group of anxious looking servants. 

'Yes mother?'
'They have no wine,' she said simply. Jesus frowned. 
'Woman, what concern is that to you? And to me?' His mother merely looked steadily at him and said nothing. 'My hour has not yet come.' he said, which Samuel thought strange. His hour for what? Ignoring her son's words, Mary turned to Samuel. 
'Do whatever he tells you.' And then she walked off, heading straight for where the bride stood with a group of her giggling friends, leaving Samuel and the others standing there, looking awkwardly at her son. Jesus sighed. He looked around, and then pointed over Samuel shoulder. 

'Do you see those?' Samuel turned. By the east wall of the house stood a number of large stone water jars.
'Yes, rabbi?' 
'Fill them with water.' 
'With water?' Samuel was confused. Jesus raised an eyebrow at him. 
'What did my mother tell you to do?' 
'She said to do whatever you said, but … yes, rabbi.' Samuel gestured the men towards the stone jars. 

'This is a joke, right?' said one of them.
'Just do as you're told,' snapped Samuel. In truth, he didn't know why he was doing what the lady and her son had said. But for some reason, he didn't dare not to. 
'Right. There's buckets. There's the well. Get filling.' The sun was hot, the well was deep, and soon the men were sweating. The jars were huge, between 20 and 30 gallons each and it took a lot of buckets to fill them. 

'Remind me why we're doing this?' panted one man, as he lugged two full buckets to the jars and started to pour them in.
'Because the wine is all gone and we've nothing better to do,' gasped Samuel, dragging his own bucket to a jar. Soon enough, the jars were full. Samuel wiped sweat out of eyes and turned to find Jesus standing there, a faint smile on his bearded lips. 

'They're full,' said Samuel, unnecessarily. The water was slopping over the mouths and down the sides of the jars. Jesus nodded.
'Now draw some out and take it to the chief steward.' Samuel opened his mouth to ask 'why' but then closed it again. Why bother? The lady had said 'do whatever he tells you' so that is what he would do. 

There was a beaker on the table nearby, made of dark wood. He dipped it into the nearest jar, filled it an took it out again. When he had finished, Jesus had gone. Shrugging his shoulders, he made his way through the crowd to his father. He found him, standing with Shemi and Bar-shemi. Their voices were low, but Samuel could tell from the slump of their shoulders that they were worried. He supposed his father was breaking the news to them that the wine was gone. He tapped his father on the shoulder. He turned, frowning. 

'Yes, Samuel.' Silently, he handed him the cup.
'What's this?' Samuel didn't know what to say. What could he say? 
'Has the cat got your tongue, boy? Speak up!' 
'Drink it,' said Samuel. His father gave him a puzzled look. He looked at the cup. Then a look of surprise came over his face. He brought it up to his face, and holding his nose over it, took a deep breath. A huge smile came over his face. He took a sip, rolled the liquid round in his mouth, and then swallowed. His smile broadened. He took another drink, this time a huge mouthful. 

'Where did you get this?' he demanded. Samuel pointed to the water jars.
'And is there more?' 
'They're full.' Samuel wondered why his father was so exited by a drink of water. But then his father turned back to the other men, and grasped Bar-shemi by the hand. 
'Well, I'll be,' he laughed. 'Everyone serves the good wine first; and then the inferior wine once the guests are drunk! But you've kept the good wine until now!' He clasped Shemi by the shoulder. 'Well done, old friend. You had me worried there for a minute!' He turned to Samuel. 'Well? What are you waiting for? Get the men serving that excellent wine!' 

Samuel scurried back to where the men stood by the water jars. His head was reeling. How could his father call it wine? It was water. Wasn't it?

'Pick up your jugs,' Samuel said to the men.
'Why,' asked one. 
'So you can fill them.' 
'Fill them from where?' 
'From there,' Samuel said, pointing to the jars. 
'But why would we do that? What's the point? They don't want water at a wedding. It's wine they're after. If we fill their glasses with water, they'll throw it in our faces!' 
'My father says to fill your jugs from here, so fill them you will,' said Samuel. With a shrug, the first man did. Suddenly he gasped. 

'It's wine!'
'What are you talking about?' 
'The jar is full of wine!' 
'What do you mean? We just filled them! It's water!' 
'I don't care what we put in it, it's wine now!' 
'So's this one!' 
'And this!' 
'They all are!' 

The men fell silent. They stared at Samuel.
'What is happening here, young master,' whispered one. Samuel shook his head. 
'I don't know. A miracle? A sign from God? I don't know. But I do know we have wine enough for everyone here and more. So let's not let this wedding feast come to a sudden end … serve the wine now and worry about where it came from later!' 

And so they did. The crowd was wildly enthusiastic for the fine wine that had suddenly appeared. Praise was heaped on Shemi and his son for being such excellent hosts. Samuel and the others were rushed off their feet trying to keep everyone's glasses filled. When he had time to draw breath, his tried to find the young rabbi to ask him what had happened, to find out where the wine had come from. Had water really turned to wine? But Jesus was gone. Samuel was to busy after that to worry about it further. The feast went on until late, then there was the clearing away and the packing up to do. The moon was high in the sky before they back on the carts, trundling for home again. Bone weary, Samuel, leaned against his father.

'A good day's work, aye Samuel?' he said cheerily.
'Yes, papa,' he answered sleepily. 
'And no need to worry about the wine after all!' 
'No papa.' 
'That sly dog, Shemi! What a trick, saving the very best wine for last! Where had he hidden it? How did you happen to find it?' 
'The rabbi, Jesus, told me where to look.' 
'And I wonder how he knew where it was? Well never mind. It was a good wedding. A very good wedding.' 
'Yes, papa.' 

As the cart bounced along the rutted track, Samuel thought about Jesus. How could a man change water into wine? No wonder so many followed him! How could one not follow a teacher who could back up the authority of his words with actions like that! What was it his mother had said to him again? 'Do whatever he tells you?' Well, Samuel had something extraordinary had happened. And as he drifted off to sleep he decided that when next he met Jesus he would again do whatever he told him to. A person could not go wrong listening and obeying every word such a man had to say.

 ©  Fr Levi 2013 (all rights reserved)

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