Saturday, November 16, 2013

Is it authentic? Does it matter?

Seeking the exact spot Jesus turned water into wine
The Catholic Church in Cana, under the care of the Franciscans.
(Photo: Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)
In Cana, a small town with billboards and storefronts proclaiming a holy man turned water into wine on this turf, a winding road leads to a Catholic Church claiming to stand on the site of the miracle.

The church is a hot spot for weddings and marriage vow renewals. When we arrived in the afternoon, a nun on the grounds said there had already been two ceremonies that morning; white flowers still hung on the ends of the pews.

It’s built on a synagogue dated to the 4th century, our guide explained. Taking a staircase below ground level, we saw stone jars like the ones that held water in Jesus’ time, and the synagogue’s foundations, littered with paper bills and written prayers.

Inside the Greek Orthodox Church in Cana. (Photo:
Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)
But, a short walk further down the same narrow street leads to a beautiful Greek Orthodox Church also claiming to be on the original site of the gospel event.

It, too, displays stone jars, this time alongside wonderful frescoes and icons of saints and the miraculous event. If it lacks anything in ancient synagogue remains, it makes up for in sacred art.

So, which is right?

Our Jewish tour guide couldn’t guarantee it, but said it’s more likely that the Catholic Church is on the original site as it stands on the leftovers of a synagogue, where weddings likely took place.

I think the more important question is: does it matter? It’s Cana! Somewhere around here, Jesus was traveling to His inaugural miracle that would set the stage for future performances.

Might as well take a trip to the Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches: see and be transformed by the merits of both.

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