2nd. Sunday of Year 2016 (C)
(Isaiah 62:1-5; 1st. Corinthians 12: 4-11; St. John’s Gospel 2:1-11)
But what about John, the young boy in the midst of such pre-destined and mature men? Perhaps we may be allowed, just for the very joy and beauty of it, to try to gain some appreciation and possible understanding of the reason for and purpose of Jesus’ choice of John.
Mature men are – by definition -- already formed in their personality and manhood to a large measure, even though subsequently they become fully committed and truly loving disciples. John, however, was not fully mature in such ways: he was still receptive of and impressionable under human influence but, obviously, much more so when in close proximity with Jesus’ divinely human Personality. St. John’s Gospel offers us therefore -- quite uniquely – an intimacy of access to Jesus Himself whereby we are invited, to lose something of ourselves and experience Jesus as it were from the inside: to sympathetically intuit something of His Personality, and whole-heartedly love His very Self, along with John. And today’s Gospel reading is an excellent example of John’s opening up of Jesus for us in that way.
A wedding was taking place in Cana to which Mary (and Jesus? and His new disciples??) had been invited. During the course of the celebrations we are told:
The wine ran short and the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”
Obviously -- judging from Jesus’ reply -- Mary was not just ‘concerned’ about the lack of wine, for she was expecting, or at least hoping, that Jesus might be able to do something about it.
As you can appreciate, Jesus was surprised at His mother’s concern; or perhaps better, quite puzzled at her attempt to involve Him in the matter.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”
Mary, however, was not to be put off:
His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever He tells you.”
That surely is moral pressure: for Mary – known to all as Jesus’ very mother – publicly, even though you might say, in a confidential way, advises the servants (who will most certainly talk!) to be ready to do whatever Jesus might tell them. Jesus had not intended to tell them to do anything, but now those servants were looking to Him, waiting for Him, to say something, to do something!! So there we are now ourselves, having been made aware of a dilemma Jesus was experiencing within His very own and very human Self!
When, as a young man having just been officially recognized as a male adult responsible before the Law with regard to its obligations and duties, Jesus had refused to apologize for what Mary thought had been a wrong done to Joseph and herself. Now, having been confessed before John by the voice of His Father from heaven, and having entered upon His public ministry by vanquishing the Devil in his desert lair, the bond of supremely cherished love and sovereign obedience between Jesus and His heavenly Father -- manifested and asserted as a very young man all those years ago -- was never at any risk of now being made contingent upon, or adapted to conform with, merely human standards or expectations, not even those of His mother Mary.
Let us therefore, most humbly watch and wait in order to appreciate and learn from every single word, even the very least, or from any of His gestures; above all indeed, let us allow for and learn from His silences and His perhaps, most intimate, prayer.
Jesus was not concerned about the couple’s shortage of wine, that is, He had no intention whatsoever of using powers given Him by His Father for anything but His Father’s purposes, Woman how does your concern affect Me?
However, though Jesus was not much embarrassed by Mary’s concern as such, He was nevertheless puzzled by her subsequent actions:
His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever He tells you.”
How could she, preaching obedience to the servants ‘Do whatever He tells you’, herself be so wilfully insistent about what she wanted Him to do? She had never behaved in this way before, and that, as I said, was puzzling for Jesus. John tells us nothing, and that nothingness is one of those silences of Jesus I just mentioned that we should carefully attend to, for when Jesus was puzzled He would turn to but One, His Father.
Jesus was always, literally always and most intently, aware of and responsive to His Father’s will; and just as all those years ago, though in no way apologizing for remaining behind in Jerusalem, He had nevertheless returned home with Mary and Joseph and, through all the intervening years been obedient to them, so now, Jesus learned from His Father that, by embracing His mother Mary’s concern for the young couple and their guests, He, Jesus, was being offered the opportunity to use, most appropriately, divine power for truly divine purposes evoking the ultimate wedding feast of all in heaven.
The heavenly Father never forgot Mary’s Calvary-like self-sacrifice at the Annunciation and He always tempered any apparent ‘difficulties’ between His beloved Son’s supreme love for Himself and His supreme appreciation of His mother. Here Mary’s concerns for the couple were merely incidental to the truly divine conciliation the Father was about to work. The Father wanted to have His Son, setting out on His Messianic work, to begin it with His mother’s blessing; and so He made Mary’s ‘concern’ the apparent ‘cause’ of the blessing He planned: and because she, through such concern, would thus ‘cause’ her Son to work His first miracle as Messiah, that wonderful privilege would serve most fittingly as her blessing upon her Son’s subsequent life’s work and divine fulfilment. It would be totally divine, even symbolically, for there would be more wine, better wine, than Mary could ever have conceived of for the newly-wed’s; and it would be a miracle rejoicing Jesus’ most Sacred Heart to its fullest human extent while causing Him supreme and most sublime delight in His Father’s resultant glory as a foreshadowing of the divine and heavenly banquet of the family of God, gathered together by the Spirit in the name of Jesus at the table, and before the Person, of the Father of all.
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.”
Dear People of God, you have not been taught any particular doctrine of Catholic divinity (as Pope Benedict did so beautifully) nor exhorted to any particular Catholic moral attitude or practice (as Pope Francis does so diligently) because ultimately, whatever we think, whatever we profess or do, will only bear fruit to the extent in which it is penetrated by our personal and humble experience of and response to Jesus Himself as revealed to us by His own Divine Words in the Scriptures and opened-up for us by His own Most Holy Spirit. Many American Christians and Catholics amaze me with their zeal for the Scriptures and the money they will spend on books (hundreds, even thousands of dollars) and I mention them because no other ‘ordinary’ people can spend so much, even if they wanted so much; but because I admire their commitment, I fear at times that they too desirous to know facts, to have information, to be able to answer too many questions, ABOUT JESUS, especially with other people in view; whereas what is supremely necessary and uniquely fulfilling is personal knowledge OF, love FOR, intimacy and fullness of satisfaction WITH, adherence and commitment TO, Jesus alone, our Saviour indeed, but also my Lord, my Life, and my Love.
I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have come to believe that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father. (John 16: 26-28)