“Do whatever he tells you” stamped on a silver cuff bracelet was a meaningful gift from one my beautiful sisters last year for my birthday. The inexhaustible meaning of this line from The Wedding at Cana, continually leads me like a star toward my quest for guidance on how to live my faith. Although, due to some travel, I am behind in my posts for “upcoming Sunday’s gospel” (as this was last week’s) I didn’t want to neglect the importance of this message we get from Jesus’ mother, Mary, “Do whatever he tells you.” If you read my blog often, you know that I write of obedience and humility (with LOVE) as the essential virtues for a life of joy, peace and holiness in the Lord, as taught to us through the scriptures and the saints throughout the centuries. Seemingly allusive, I seek after ways to imitate these culturally abstract ideas for a woman in the new millennium. What do these look like on a woman living in America these days?
During the past few momentous weeks in our family (acceptance into college, grad school and summer programs) as well as the preparation for our annual Spiritual Exercises, I have had great opportunity for the obscure fitting of these virtues on my spirit, in ways that are both common and sublime. Have I done it well? Maybe not; only God knows, but I know practicing the habit begets the virtue. Combing through this gospel last week with my sisters-in-Christ, and examining the heroic acts of every day husbands, we see the pieces come together for living a holier life in humble obedience to God.
There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servers,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
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.”
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.
Reflections From The Group
Woman, how does your concern affect me?
Our concerns are God’s concerns. He cares about even the smallest things that weigh on our hearts. Mostly, He cares about our sanctification, laced with the abundanct graces He has awaiting us. Not only do we need to ask Him for help for the things that weigh on our hearts, but we need to remember that His concerns are also OUR concerns. How can I help You today, Lord?
Do whatever he tells you…
The pivotal role of Mary in the life of Christ and in our lives is set forth here. The first thing we can learn from the “first of Christians” (she was the first human to believe he was the Son of God), is that she made her life a conduit for the Will of God. She prompted her son to begin his ministry, even when she knew that the commencement of his public ministry meant the ending of her own time with him. He would soon set out on a three year journey to preach and heal, embodying the fulfillment of the prophecy of the savior.
The reason we Catholics love Mary (“Our Blessed Mother”, or “Our Lady”) is because she consistently points the way to Christ at the expense of herself, all the while “pondering these things in heart”, as we read in scripture. She “magnifies” the Lord with her virtue; the ultimate obedient soul, seeking only His Divine will, all the while constantly intercessing and pleading for souls. Her example of obedience and humility are the most tangible example we have of living a life for Christ, especially as women. She accompanies us in our walk toward him.
One of my favorite stories about how to understand Mary’s role in our faith walk is that of the loving parent who accompanies us down a paved, smooth path that leads directly to the house of a friend. If we, like young children, were sent out to find the friend on our own, the path may be wooded, muddy, dangerous, and complicated. We might get lost, go in circles, even give up. Like a loving mother would, she picks us up, brushes us off, takes us by the hand, and leads us directly. But like with Jesus, devotion comes from a relationship; not an intellectual understanding. To know Christ is to love Him. If you want to really know someone, you must develop a relationship first, as we see in our next reflection point.
They began to believe in him…
At the wedding feast of Cana, we have the first miracle Christ would perform in front of his disciples. They had been with him for a time, following, trusting and watching; developing a friendship with him. They knew not exactly what drew them, but as they watch this first miracle happen they began to believe in him. The amazing trust and faith they showed before they truly understood what was taking place in their midst is an example for the rest of us to continue to be examples of faith for others. Even when we don’t understand all the details. The example that is so powerful before us is that they practiced before they believed.
When we are trying to change our behavior, the first thing we do is form a habit. We practice that habit, and then the virtue follows, which is the case with the the accompanying husbands.
The Case of The Accompanying Husbands
In the midst of our faith community is a husband and a father of five who is suffering from brain cancer. While he deals with pain, treatment and hospitalizations, his wife soldiers on caring for their family, loving him, and doing her best. Recently, after being readmitted to the hospital for further treatment, he didn’t want to be alone. As his wife went back and forth between her children and her husband, friends noticed all that was required of her, and decided to pull together to make a plan. Husbands of some families in the church took turns going to the hospital to sit by his side through the night, to provide opportunity for his wife to get some rest. One by one, these men left their own sleeping families–many getting up to go to work the next day and carry on with their own responsibilities–they quietly sacrificed a night of sleep to keep vigil to a friend in need over the course of his hospitalization.
Theological Virtue: Charity
Cardinal Virtue: Fortitude
Human Virtue: Nobility
How we will act:
We will make our “knights in shining armor” (our husbands who work hard to provide and support us) dinner and express our gratitude to them for all that they do.
How we will pray:
We will say the “Spouse’s prayer” this week in honor (for those who are married).
O Lord, holy Father, omnipotent and eternal God, we give you thanks and we bless your holy name. You created man and woman in your image and blessed their union, so that each would be for the other a help and support. Remember us today. Protect us and grant that our love may be in the image of the devotion and love of Christ for his Church. Grant us a long and fruitful life together, in joy and in peace, so that, through your Son and in the Holy Spirit, our hearts may always rise to you in praise and goods works.