When I was a little girl, I remember that my mom got one of those free Christian art calendars that they give you at parish. And I remember being entranced by one image in particular: The Wedding at Cana, by Paolo Veronese. I would look at it and admire it probably every day. Evidently, my mom noticed my love for this painting, because when she finally recycled the calendar at the end of the year, she clipped out this picture and gave it to me.
“It was one of my favorites when I went to The Louvre,” she said. “The Mona Lisa was on the other side, and everybody wanted to see her, but I was stunned by this one.”
Anyway! The painting looks like this:
And I just couldn’t help but stare at it. It is such an impressive picture with everything happening at once. It is chaos! There are musicians playing instruments! There are dogs and even a cat! (The cat is playing with the face of a lion, which is an amusing little detail to me.) There are people moving around asking about the wine! Right above Jesus, there is someone who is butchering an animal. To the bottom right of the painting, you can see a man, presumably the steward, holding a glass of wine, while servants pour wine from the caskets they had just poured water in.
And there’s tons of other details that those in the Renaissance would have noticed. Many of the royalty of that day make cameo appearances in this painting and even the musician quartet are depictions of several famous Renaissance artists of the day. It’s a huge painting that has an extraordinary level of detail. And, considering that it depicted so much royalty, it should be no surprise that it was torn down from the church it was housed in during the French Revolution!
Still! Though everything is happening all at once, two people are quietly observing all this chaos. Sitting quietly in the middle of all this chaos is Jesus and His mother.
Everybody else is moving around and yet He is there, present.
Looking back at my own life, when I had my wedding (indeed, for the months preceding the wedding!) it was a chaotic mess. In fact! As I talked with caterers and bakers, I often joked that I wanted Jesus to do the catering. After all, just look at the gospel of this wedding!
1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. 3When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 [And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” 5His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. 7Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. 8Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. 9And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.
See? Look at the gift that Jesus gave! Isn’t it extraordinary?
Now, I once had hopes that maybe things would settle down once I got married, but then children came and caused even more chaos, and now I am in the thick of chaos once more, with three children four and under racing around me. Which is wonderful! But, trust me, it is also very chaotic!
Yet, when I look at this picture, I am reminded that yes, our lives can be chaotic. Very chaotic, in fact!
And yet, in the thick of all this chaos, Christ is there, taking care of us as He wills.
Even if it’s a simple matter of not having enough wine.
This blog is part of a blog series about the Luminous Mysteries. This artwork, as well as many others, are available in my book, The Luminous Mysteries, which allows you to pray the Rosary prayer by prayer, with each prayer illustrated with gorgeous religious art. If you would like to learn more about the books, click here!