Sunday January 16th, 2022
2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
Dear Pastorate Family,
As we return to Ordinary Time after the Christmas season, this weekend we’re presented with Jesus’ first public miracle – the changing of water into wine during the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. One of the most interesting things here is the relationship between Jesus and Mary. This episode illustrates Jesus’ reluctance to perform special “favors” just because family asks. Nonetheless, it’s Jesus’ own mother who asks for His help by simply stating a problem – “They have no wine.” Jesus might come off as dismissive of Mary in response, but He ultimately exercises filial obedience and performs His first miracle simply because His mother asked Him to help. Mary, for her part, brings up the issue to her Son, and then allows Him to respond however He sees fit. This passage gives us Mary’s only “commandment” in scripture as she says to the servers, “Do whatever He tells you.”
Everything that follows is how the miracle unfolded. It’s telling that in performing this miracle, Jesus chose to create not just any old wine, but wine of an exceptionally great quality. Here in St. John’s Gospel, various miracles are referred to as “signs” – “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.” What do we do when we “run out of wine” in life – when our patience runs short, when we feel like our faith is dried up, when our hope seems to be all gone? One thing we can and should do is go to Mary. She then takes the matter to Jesus, her divine Son. And because Jesus perfectly fulfills the 4th commandment, we can trust that our dilemma will be received favorably by Jesus when presented to Him by His mother. We can go “To Jesus through Mary” – a model of prayer recommended by many Saints and holy souls. And may Mary’s commandment always be the guidance we follow during our pilgrimage through this life.
True Devotion to Mary
Our devotion to or veneration of Mary is like that of the devotion or veneration we give to the Saints, though of a higher order because of her exalted vocation as the Mother of God. It is altogether different from the worship we owe to God. Nonetheless, we venerate Mary because of her vocation to be “Theotokos” – the “Mother of God” or the “God bearer.” And all of the veneration which we might extend to Mary is entirely because of Jesus. Her title, “Mother of God,” exists in order to preserve our belief in the divinity of Jesus. We venerate her because Jesus did so. We believe in her Immaculate Conception because we believe in the absolute freedom from sin of Jesus, her divine Son. St. Maximilian Kolbe is remembered as saying, “Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.” We worship God alone, not Mary and not any of the Saints. We venerate the Saints, we ask for their help from heaven, but we only worship God. We may sing the praises of Mary’s virtues, but even that is a heightened form of veneration, not worship. We can and should worship the Real Presence of Jesus in Holy Communion, the single most visible “sign” of God’s presence in our midst. That’s why we genuflect to the tabernacle. But when we speak about devotion to Mary, we speak about her humanity – she was 100% human. Jesus, her Son, as both the Son of God and the Son of Mary, is both 100% God and 100% human, though He is first of all a divine Person. Jesus deserves our worship as the Son of God, but Mary deserves our veneration as the one who bore the Son of God in her womb. Furthermore, by devotion to Mary, we better devote ourselves to Jesus as we follow her one and only “commandment,” “Do whatever He tells you.” Do you think being devoted to Mary would help you be more devoted to Jesus, her Son? How do you exercise devotion to Mary? May the Blessed Virgin Mary help us always to do whatever Jesus says!