Read an Excerpt
Seeing for Ourselves
Biblical Women Who Met Jesus
By Katerina Katsarka Whitley
Church Publishing IncorporatedCopyright © 2001Katerina Katsarka Whitley
All rights reserved.
A Wedding Gift Like No Other
The Bride of Cana Remembers Her Wedding Day
The evangelist John is the only one who tells this story. It comes immediately after the calling of Jesus disciples and its significance lies in its being the first miracle recorded by John whose time sequence Archbishop Temple considers the most reliable among the gospels. Its importance seems to be in the impression this miracle made upon those who had already decided to follow Jesus. Years later, when rumors of this miracle prompt new Christians to ask her about it, the bride focuses on Jesus' impression on her. I owe a debt of gratitude to Dorothy L. Sayers for her book The Man Born to Be King and Archbishop Temple for helping me visualize the scene in his book Readings in Saint John's Gospel. [Dr. William Temple (1881–1944) was Archbishop of York (1929–1942) when he wrote Readings in St. John's Gospel (1939). He served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1942 until his death two years later.]
I didn't know when I woke up that morning that my wedding would become the talk of Galilee in years to come. I was from Nazareth and my husband-to-be from Cana. It was the day of his arrival. He was coming with the wedding party to take me to his home. His family was rather well-off and I was very apprehensive about meeting his mother and living in her home from that day forward. I knew that the first part of my life had ended and that the second was about to begin. I woke up early, sat up in bed, and tried to take in great gulps of air. I found I couldn't breathe. Something like panic seized me. My mother and sisters came in to dress me and found me gasping for breath. They started laughing—instead of having compassion for me—and then I began to cry and laugh and the panic passed. (She laughs at the memory.)
"Every bride feels this way, silly," my older sister said, and that calmed me down. I didn't want them to think I was afraid to get married. Nothing was worse than being unwanted; I had been told this all my young life. But I loved being home in Nazareth. I didn't want to leave everyone and everything I knew for a man I had hardly ever seen, except in furtive looks from behind a screen when he could not see me. What if he didn't like what he saw when he lifted my veil? What if his mother was difficult to live with? I was very worried but ashamed to express my fears.
The women had bathed me and had laid out my wedding clothes when a friend of my mother's came in to see how we were getting along. I had known her only as Mariam, the wife of Joseph the carpenter, but she had a large family, like ours, and kept close to home most of the time. She was my mother's friend, so I was pleased when she came to wish me well. We had heard that her oldest son, Yeshua, Jesus, had left home and the carpentry shop of his father a month before to become a rabbi. There were rumors that he was a prophet. He and my oldest brother had played together as children, so it seemed very strange to all of us to think that we had known a playmate who was a prophet.
I heard my mother say, "Mariam, dear, you must miss him very much," and I guessed they were talking about Jesus. Mariam's voice rose in a happy laughter. "Oh, my dear, but I am especially happy today. Jesus is coming to the wedding. He has been invited by the bridegroom. It seems that they met each other recently and your new son invited my son to the wedding feast. Isn't this a happy day for all of us? I am going on ahead to help with the preparations." And then their voices faded as my mother bade her goodbye.
I looked down at my dress and felt a shiver go through me. A prophet coming to my wedding feast? How amazing. Still, using the word prophet for someone we knew sounded impossible, and I put it out of my mind.
When dear Jonah arrived with his large party, I was ready. Everyone was running around to make sure we had all the dowry properly assembled and loaded on the donkey, the girls were squealing at the sight of so many young men, and then Jonah found me alone for a moment. He came near me and, making sure no one was looking, he lifted a corner of the veil, looked me straight in the eye, and smiled at me. I knew then that all would be all right. He had such a lovely, warm smile. He squeezed my hand, and then we got ready and joined the procession. (She smiles fondly at the recollection.)
All of that seems like a dream now. The long walk from Nazareth to Cana, the laughter and the jokes of the bridesmaids, the teasing of the young men, the sudden songs, the sun warm on my head and back, my mother touching me and wiping her eyes every now and then. I kept looking for Jonah as he moved among the young people of the procession, making sure all was well, and I kept hoping that the one brief moment of communion between us foretold good things for us in our life together.
When Cana came into sight it was nearly evening, and servants ran with torches from Jonah's lovely courtyard to lead us to the house that would become my home. We were welcomed with great warmth and I felt like the guest of honor for just a few minutes, seated near my new mother- and father-in-law with Jonah close to me. But that didn't last long. Suddenly there was a great commotion in the courtyard and I heard Mariam, my mother's friend, exclaim: "It's Jesus. He has finally arrived." And everyone turned away from me and Jonah to gaze at the young prophet.
He looked the same as ever—a very strong, arresting face with amazing eyes, very simple in his robes, with those powerful carpenter's arms of his free and bare, his strides long as he walked on the tiled, cool floor. But he was not alone. He was followed by a group of men who seemed to be enthralled by him, a group that obviously upset his mother.
The commotion quieted as the head servant called out orders to the rest of the help for more couches and tables and finally everyone was seated. Good wishes and speeches started while cups were filled again and again with wine. I looked through my diaphanous veil and remained quiet. My nervousness had almost left me because the whole scene was so fascinating. All those men talking at the same time and then suddenly stopping when the son of Mariam opened his mouth. There was nothing of the scary prophet of doom about him. He laughed with his friends and seemed to enjoy the herbs and wine and the aromatic bread. As the meat on the spit was served, the laughter got louder and I heard Jonah's father asking the steward for more wine. The steward ran toward the wine jars and the servants attending them and I saw him pull back as they shook their heads. He looked very angry. Mariam happened to be passing by the servants at that time—she was bringing a tray from the kitchen and heading toward the table where Jesus and his friends sat—and she stopped to talk to one of the servants. I saw her look alarmed, and then with renewed purpose she approached her son. "Do something," I heard her say, "They have run out of wine." He lifted his eyes and looked at her and all conversation stopped around them. As the whispering died down I heard some of his words clearly: "My time has not yet come." Again, I felt a shiver go through me, and Jonah turned tome and asked in a soft voice, "Are you not well, my love?" I smiled under my veil and reached and touched his hand secretly to reassure him. "Something very strange is happening at that table," I whispered.
We both looked and saw Mariam approach the servants, say something to them, and point toward her son. A few moments passed. Then Jesus stood and walked toward the entranceway looking all around him. He stopped in front of the six large ston
Excerpted from Seeing for Ourselves by Katerina Katsarka Whitley. Copyright © 2001 by Katerina Katsarka Whitley. Excerpted by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.