2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. John chooses very carefully which episodes of Jesus’ earthly ministry he records in his gospel. He only writes about seven of Jesus’ miracles, he devotes whole chapters to episodes that the other Gospel’s hardly speak about and he mentions Our Blessed Lady only twice. When you read something in St. John’s Gospel you know this is important.
Our Lady appears here at Cana, the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and she appears once more at the end, on Golgotha, standing beneath the Cross. On both occasions Jesus addresses her with profound respect. There is no good equivalent in modern English to the word Jesus uses, Woman is close, but perhaps ‘My Lady’ would be better.
Amongst the many wonders of this episode at Cana is the profound love between Son and Mother, between Redeemer and redeemed, between Lord and disciple. Mary says “they have no wine”. And our Lord’s reply “My Lady why do you turn to me? My hour has not yet come” should make us gasp. What the Lord has said is “Why do you ask this, my miracles are part of my death on the cross, each miracle I work anticipates, is a sign of, brings closer my death. My miracles involve my self giving love but my self giving love will only be fully revealed on the cross when ‘my hour’ comes”.
I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say Our Lord is saying to His Mother “are you asking me to go to the cross?” Now Our Lady doesn’t ask “what do you mean? – what is this ‘hour’ which is to come?” This is the Mother of God, this is Mary full of Grace. She knows. But such is her love for those her Son loves, her love not just for the wedding couple but for all of us, because her Son loves us, that she consents to the sacrifice of her Son. “Do whatever he tells you” she tells them and tells us. “Do whatever he tells you” because he loves you so much that he will suffer death to save you and because I love you for his sake so for your sake I accept his death.
This is re-echoed the second time our Lady appears in St John’s Gospel. At the foot of the cross. “Woman behold you son” and to St. John who writes the words he heard “behold your Mother”. At that moment when the Mother should be wholly occupied with the death of her Son, when surely Our Lady’s love must be utterly focussed on the one she loves so much, her God, her Redeemer, her Son, at that moment when surely She must think of nothing else. It is then that Our Lord says “Behold your Son.” Be a Mother to him and to all my disciples, you whose unique privilege is that your only son is God, humble yourself to accept as your sons those who are most certainly not God, be a mother to them, be a loving mother to those for whom I must die. At the very moment when your heart is breaking and you are spiritually with me on the cross, join me in embracing the whole World, join me in the work of love. My love is the divine love which will bring the offer of salvation even to those who crucify me, your love is the love of not just any Mother, but God’s Mother, a Motherly love extended to all those I love.
St Paul in the epistle speaks of the variety of gifts in the Church. The gifts which God distributes as He chooses. If our spiritual lives are to grow and we are to come to know Our Lord better and follow him more closely, then we must not neglect the gift of our Mother Mary, we must not be deaf to her words “do what ever he tells you” and we must never be afraid to ask her to ask Jesus something on our behalf. Not because we are afraid to approach Jesus ourselves but because as St John’s Gospel reveals, Mary understands what it means to ask, she knows how to ask, she stands at the foot of the cross and accepts the vocation to be our Mother and above all because as 120 gallons of best wine reveal, Jesus answers his mother’s request.