Today we are celebrating the newest feast day declared by Pope Francis, that of Mary, the Mother of the Church.
Before you dismiss today’s blog because you are not Catholic and it doesn’t interest you, please hang in there! Just to let you know, that Jesus’ mother, in that role, is also mother of us all, no matter if you practice my faith or not. If we are the Body of Christ, as it proclaims in Scripture, then she is our mother, too.
And we can be assured that the woman – who said “Yes” to the angel Gabriel, and the woman who stood at the foot of the cross as her son died, and the woman who was present at Pentecost in the upper room when the Holy Spirit rushed in to inspire and embolden all the followers of Jesus – that she is a unique and unfathomably blessed woman.
She’s pretty special, I think we can all agree after those brief observations above. Another time we see Mary the mother of Jesus mentioned in the New Testament is when Jesus begins His public ministry at Cana during the wedding feast.
My favorite moment is when, after Jesus basically seems to balk at his mom’s utterance that the hosts of the wedding party have run out of wine, she seems to ignore His response and tells the attendants, “Do whatever He tells you.”
He has just informed His mother that His “time” has not yet come. Mary ignores the Son of God’s statement and moves Him to action on behalf of their family friends. If you don’t think this is a reason to ask for Mary’s intercessory prayer, we’re not reading the same scenario.
Immediately, in John’s account of things, Jesus tells the servants to fill 6 jars with water and then bring it to the maitre d’ to taste. As we know, the water has been turned to wine. All 60 gallons of it. And, according to Scripture, it’s really good wine!
This was the first time Jesus “manifested His glory,’ according to St. John. And His followers “believed in Him.” Briefly after this we read that they all, including Jesus’ mother, went down to Capernaum for a few days. So, if Jesus was angry with His mother, He certainly didn’t hold it against her. But, more probably, He realized that Mary was right and it was actually the perfect time or “hour” for Jesus to begin publicly announcing the Good News and so His Divinity.
Maybe it was a test of Mary’s faith when Jesus seems to dismiss her implied request that He help. Maybe Mary had no idea how her Son could help, but she knew He would do something to save their friends from embarrassment. Maybe Mary knew her Son very well and she, who was “full of grace,” according to the angel I mentioned above, understood at some basic level that it was time for Him to reveal His true Nature. Mary could have been encouraging her Son here. Perhaps they’d previously and privately discussed when and how Jesus would begin that public ministry.
How like a mother to help her child move out in the direction he or she is meant to go. How like a loving mother to say, “You can do this!” And not just mean this one thing, but everything that will follow. How like an exemplary mother to help her child become what he or she is meant to be in God’s plan, even when she knows her own heart will be broken, or “pierced,” as Simeon prophesied in the temple when she and Joseph brought Jesus for His presentation as an infant.
Maternal love is the epitome of selfless, sacrificial love. Just as her Son will one day freely offer Himself for the sake of us all, His mother must first let Him go, set Him on the path that will lead Him she knows not where, but some place that she knows she would rather He not go, and it’s to a place she does not want to think about now or ever.
Mary doesn’t know how it will all turn out. She isn’t omniscient. But she trusts God and she trusts her Son. Those innocent words, “Do whatever He tells you,” are direct, certain, and trusting. And it sets her Son off on a very particular mission that only His Heavenly Father fully understands.
Yes, that’s our mother, too. Such an example of complete trust from Day One. May we all follow her example and remember, too, that we should seek to do whatever her Son asks of us, with that same assurance that she reveals time and again in the New Testament accounts.