Wednesday, 22 July 2015

St. John 2: 2-5

In the section on the Sacrament of Marriage, the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that: God Himself is the author of marriage….[par.1603] and it is the spouses themselves who are the ministers of this sacrament [para. 1623].

The priest does not ‘marry’ the couple; however he does bless them and witness, along with those assembled.

The third preface for Masses for the celebration of Marriage sums up the core witness of marriage: …the Sacrament of holy Matrimony, as the abiding sign of Your own love, consecrates the love of a man and woman, through Christ our Lord.

We live in time when the whole truth and reality of personhood, of being male and female, of Holy Marriage, of family life, indeed of faith life, when children often are at risk of being murdered while still in the womb, of stealing childhood from children and pushing them towards growing up and becoming enmeshed in the culture of hedonism, nihilism, greed, death is an outrage that cries to heaven for justice.

So tainted by the surrounding culture have the baptized themselves become that priests, and indeed our Protectant counterparts as Ministers of the Gospel, often have serious battles to curtail attempts to desacralize what is most sacred by introduction of modes of dress, music and other things which diminish the reality of Christ as the centre of martial love and life.

As surely and as really present at the wedding in Cana, Christ is present to, within, the marriage of baptized persons, the man and the woman entering the covenant of communion of love and cooperation with God in the creation of new life and through Baptism new members of the Body of Christ.

Whoever the young couple were, relatives of one of the disciples, or of Jesus and Mary, St. John does not tell us. They are representative of all couples on their wedding day.

He does however point out in v. 1 – and the mother of Jesus was there. -  Adding in v. 2 – Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.

Except in very extreme circumstances the Church does not permit marriages in secret – it is essential witnesses be present, as was the custom in Jesus’ day.

Why?:  respect for family and friends by inviting them to share in this joyous occasion – the great reality about the presence of witnesses is that this Sacrament of Marriage is precursor to enhancing the development and expansion of the Domestic Church and it is also a foundation stone of society.

The very woof and warp of a healthy, sane, caring society is rooted in family life. All attempts to disrupt family life through distortions of marriage and child-rearing weaken the very fabric of society and mount an assault on the Domestic and Universal Church.

At Cana, as we shall see, there was a material crisis of lack of wine.

In our day there is a greater lack that cries out to heaven for relief: the lack of common sense wisdom when it comes to the God intended reality of male and female/husband and wife/father and mother.

As Our Blessed Mother was so urgently needed at Cana, we need Her even more in this culture of darkness, death and confusion.

v.3 – And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

One of the amusing things about inviting people, family and friends, to any function is never knowing how hungry or thirsty they may be, or perhaps what their capacity for food and drink are! No one should be surprised that ‘they ran out of wine’, it is a very human thing.

More than once in the soup kitchen where I volunteered before entering even more deeply the hermitical life I was blessed to be witness to how Our Blessed Mother still hears the cry ‘They have no – or – we have no…’ and tends to our needs.

Unexpected numbers of hungry men, women and children would show up for the meal and we would suddenly be running out of food when the back door buzzer would go and there would be someone with boxes of leftovers from some wedding or funeral, for example, and suddenly there were lots of sandwiches and cakes and cookies – often so much and that we would scramble to find bags and containers so the homeless to take the leftovers gathered up for them!

This intervention, this mother care and concern of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary remains active in the life of the human family, the Church, each of our lives if we reach out to Her with confident trust as in the ancient prayer: REMEMBER, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to Your protection, implored Your help, or sought Your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto You, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to You do I come; before You I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in Your mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

v. 4 – Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

Jesus uses this term ‘woman’ also when He speaks with the ‘Woman at the Well’ [4:41]; when speaking with the “Woman caught in adultery” [8:10]; when confiding His Mother to St. John, and thus to all of us, [19:26]. This is also the term used by the Angels speaking to Mary Magdalene at the tomb and is the descriptive of Our Blessed Mother in Revelations chapter 12, the ‘woman clothed with the sun’.

The term ‘woman’ is used as an honourific. It is an expression of respect.

In our day we so overload words with unintended, so-called politically correct meanings not found in the original use of the word some might misread its use by Jesus.

Comes then the question from Jesus as to what His Mother’s concern has to do with Him!

Jesus is, as is obvious by His later action, not refusing His Mother, rather He is illuminating the extent of what is being asked and what will unfold from Her request.

In his book LIFE OF CHRIST, the Ven. Fulton Sheen gives as his title to the chapter reflecting on the wedding at Cana as: The Beginning of “The Hour”, stressing how use of “hour”, especially by St. John [cf. 7:30, 8:20, 12:23, 12:27, 16:32, 17:2] invariably refers to the Cross, to the passion, death and ultimately the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

Thus as Ven. Sheen also notes Our Lady would have perfectly understood Jesus was telling His Mother that should He agree to her request, should He perform a miracle, then His hour would immediately begin to unfold: When she took Him away from the temple as a boy of twelve, it was because she sensed that His Hour had not yet come; He obeyed her then and returned to Nazareth with her. Now, He told her that His Hour had not yet come, but she bade Him begin it, and He obeyed. At Cana she gave Him as a Saviour to sinners; on the Cross He gave her as a refuge to sinners. When He suggested that His first miracle would lead unerringly to His Cross and death, and that she would become henceforth a Mother of Sorrows, she turned at once to the winesteward and said: Do whatever He tells you. [v.-5]……She never speaks again in Scripture. [cf. op. cit. pp.77-79]

Not while at the foot of the Cross, where Mary ascents to becoming the Mother of every human being, and Mother of the Church, not in the Upper Room at Pentecost, does Our Lady Speak.

She becomes in many ways Our Lady of Silence, a silence so powerful and eloquent it terrorizes satan and his minions.

Yes She has been sent to us every since Her Assumption from the earliest days of the Church to our own era and in some of these visits from Her, such as at Fatima, She speaks and teaches, in others, such a Knock in Ireland, it is Her silence which speaks to us.

The core and essence whether She speaks or is silent, of what She has to say to the whole human family, to the whole Church, to each individual is forever Her essential word spoken at Cana: DO WHATEVER HE TELLS YOU.

This is truly Her mission, to point Jesus out to us, to direct us to Him, to urge with all a Mother’s urgency of love, each human being to follow Jesus and do whatever He tells us, asks of us.

In his 2002 Apostolic Letter on the Most Holy Rosary [ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE], St. John Paul II teaches:  21. Moving on from the infancy and the hidden life in Nazareth to the public life of Jesus, our contemplation brings us to those mysteries which may be called in a special way “mysteries of light”. Certainly the whole mystery of Christ is a mystery of light. He is the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12). Yet this truth emerges in a special way during the years of his public life, when he proclaims the Gospel of the Kingdom……………Each of these mysteries is a revelation of the Kingdom now present in the very person of Jesus. The Baptism in the Jordan is first of all a mystery of light…….. Another mystery of light is the first of the signs, given at Cana (cf. Jn 2:1- 12), when Christ changes water into wine and opens the hearts of the disciples to faith, thanks to the intervention of Mary, the first among believers………apart from the miracle at Cana, the presence of Mary remains in the background. The Gospels make only the briefest reference to her occasional presence at one moment or other during the preaching of Jesus (cf. Mk 3:31-5; Jn 2:12), and they give no indication that she was present at the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist. Yet the role she assumed at Cana in some way accompanies Christ throughout his ministry. The revelation made directly by the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan and echoed by John the Baptist is placed upon Mary's lips at Cana, and it becomes the great maternal counsel which Mary addresses to the Church of every age: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). This counsel is a fitting introduction to the words and signs of Christ's public ministry and it forms the Marian foundation of all the “mysteries of light”.