John begins his Gospel before time began: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1).
God, John tells us, was not alone. There was God and his Word. John makes it clear that everything God is, the Word is: “the Word was God.” And yet God and his Word are distinct: “the Word was with God,” and by his Word God brought all things into existence (1:3).
John then makes an astounding declaration: “the Word became flesh” (1:14). God’s Word took on human life; he became one of us.
After these profound reflections, John’s story begins. John the Baptist appears and announces the arrival of the Word made flesh — Jesus of Nazareth (1:29). Guided by John, some of his disciples become Jesus’ followers (1:35-44).
The story proceeds day by day. At the end of the week, Jesus and his new disciples arrive in a small hilltop town, Cana, for a wedding (2:1). By running his account in this connected way, John has constructed a suspension bridge with a dizzyingly long span.
One pier stands in eternity, before anything, “in the beginning,” with the Word hidden in the Father. The other pier is set down in a Galilean village on a particular day in the first century, where we see the Word-made-flesh having an intense conversation with his mother at the edge of a wedding reception.
Cana was only about nine miles from Nazareth, and so we may suppose that other residents of Nazareth were also invited to the wedding. At Cana, then, we glimpse Jesus moving within the village world in which he grew up — the world in which he had a mother and foster father, aunts and uncles, cousins and second cousins, neighbors from whom he bought glass bottles and leather goods, people he did construction work for and who owed him money.
At Cana, we meet the awesome reality that Jesus himself expresses later in the Gospel: “I came from God and am here” (Jn 8:42).
And where is this “here”? Only in Cana? No, it is in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I live, and Allen Park, where I go to church. It is wherever you live and go to church. The Word-made-flesh is here, with us.