The wedding feast of Cana Gospel is rich in meaning, as it reveals both the relationship of Mary and Jesus, as well as Jesus’ response to his mother.
At the feast, the situation seems to speak for itself. In the time and culture of Jesus, a wedding was a significant event that could last for several days. Running out of wine would be a major embarrassment to those hosting the wedding. Mary recognizes the problem and brings it to Jesus’ attention in a pithy declaration: “They have no wine.” Jesus responds with “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” Mary does not tell Jesus what to do or how to do it. She simply states the need, fully trusting in His response to her words.
I am drawn to Mary’s instruction to the servers. “Do whatever He tells you.” We know, of course, from this Gospel, that Jesus responds with an abundant and generous gift of the finest wine, far beyond anyone’s imagined expectation. I am in awe of this first public miracle of Jesus. I am also mindful of Mary, the model of advocacy, and how she lays a template for intercessory prayer.
On reflecting on this exchange, I wish I could better model Mary in my own life. I must admit that I tend to pray with a solution and outcome in mind. I have tried to model Mary’s complete trust in my own relationship with her Son. Yes, I do state my needs and concerns, although I know that He knows them. I have been trying to step back and simply lay them before Him, as Mary did. My role is to speak from the heart and trust. I may have a solution in mind, but I do not know all variables that may play out. The key is to let God’s will unfold, not mine.
I have found that when I have been able to truly let go – to trust in God’s response, peace can be found even in trying circumstances. Prayers are answered in unexpected ways. Unforeseen circumstances occur that shed light, open doors, and bring insight. I have found this to be true throughout my life in varied circumstances: preparing for marriage, searching for a home, discerning job changes, expecting the birth of children, caring for parents in compromised health, and being responsive to the needs of others who are less fortunate. Again, I am still a work in progress, but Mary is my model.
It should be noted that Jesus’ first miracle takes place at a wedding feast. I think that it speaks to the importance of marriage and its role in God’s divine plan. Marriage is a vocation to which many of us are called. Jesus’ miracle addresses a temporal need, but through it, He brings many to believe in Him. We, too, are called to address both the temporal and spiritual needs of others.
After pondering Mary’s advocacy, my attention is drawn to how Jesus chooses to perform His miracle. He could have simply made the wine from nothing, but he involves the servers who fill the jars to the brim with water. He takes the ordinary and transforms it into the extraordinary. It is a foreshadowing of His taking bread and wine which becomes his Body and Blood. The familiar and ordinary becomes the Real Presence.
Does Jesus not do this with us? Water, bread, and wine are ordinary, and of this world. We, too, are tied to this world and have our deficits, weaknesses, and blind spots. We have finite knowledge and insight into the Divine. Yet Jesus takes each of us and breathes life into our souls. Through Baptism, we are washed clean of original sin. Through Reconciliation, we are absolved of our sins and renewed. Through the Eucharist, we receive Jesus Himself and His abundant graces.
We, like the servers, are asked to do our part in God’s plan. Through God’s Providence, we are each given different gifts to fulfill His plan. As St. Paul notes, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” Our challenge is to recognize these gifts and to be ever mindful that they are given to us from God for a purpose. Some are called to use their gifts in a public forum. Leaders in government, medicine, and the media come to mind. Many of us are called to use our gifts in a more intimate way. Perhaps it is within a local community, church, or within our own families. If we trust in Him, we can be advocates for change and true channels of grace. Our challenge is to follow Mary’s instruction of doing whatever Jesus tells us to do. This requires prayer, discernment, and trust in God’s lead.
Jesus asks for our trust in Him. In turn, He asks us to do His will. As Mary advocates for us, we too are called to advocate for others in the world.
Questions to Ponder:
Have you ever sought Mary as your Advocate?
How have you heard God’s voice in your life?
How has Jesus called you to use your gifts?