Is 62:1-5; I Cor 12: 4-11, Jn 2:1-11
Several years ago I read the story about a couple who bought a new home and spent a lot of money on interior decoration. The wife, who wrote the article, had a husband who wanted to hang a large picture of the Sacred Heart in a prominent place in their living room and the lady objected. It did not fit with the décor of their new home. But he insisted and reminded her of Jesus’ words: “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father,” (Mt 10,32). Being a religious person, she gave in to his wishes and hung the picture.
In her article she told about a few incidents that happened because of the picture was there. One visitor, who kept glancing at the picture, eventually commended that “Jesus doesn’t look at you, he looks right through you.” Another friend commented, “I always feel so peaceful in your home.” She said one of the most striking things she noticed was that inevitably the conversation with friends and relatives was drawn to a higher plane. She felt overall the picture had a good effect on their family. Her article concluded with the statement: “This much I know, when you invite Jesus into your home, you are never the same again.”
The first line of today’s gospel is, “There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.” This opening of the gospel implies that Mary was at the wedding before Jesus and his disciples arrived and perhaps before any of the guests arrived. It is possible that the young couple to be married had asked Mary to coordinate the celebration of their wedding, to serve as a kind of wedding planner so that all the bases were covered. And all the bases were covered until the wine ran out.
We planned for 1200 meals for my Niece Wedding on last Oct 27th, 2018 but almost 1500 people showed up for the wedding. Fortunately, no one asked me to do something. Some of our Indian cooks know how to manage the crisis like this… They always come up with some solutions by adding more water to the soup!
Now, in today’s Gospel, the story doesn’t tell us why the wine ran out, although some have suggested that the twelve thirsty fishermen that Jesus brought with him drank a lot more than anyone had expected. But when the wine did run out, it was possible that Mary saw it as her responsibility, as her need to make things right. So she turns to Jesus and says, “They have no wine.” Just as we ask what we need from God, in this story Mary asks what she needs from Jesus.
Two surprises flow from Mary’s request. The first surprise is Jesus’ response. We would expect that Jesus would be deferential and helpful towards his mother, but this is not the case. Jesus says to her, “Woman, how does this concern of yours affect me?” There is no indication in Jesus’ response that he has any intention of helping his mother. That is the first surprise. The second surprise comes from Mary. She moves ahead as if Jesus is going to help. She tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” So the pattern of this story is this: Mary asks Jesus for help. He says no. And Mary moves ahead as if he said yes. Why would she do this? Mary understands what is in Jesus’ heart. She understands that he loves her and loves the young married couple. Therefore, although it seems that he has said no, Mary is confident that he will say yes.
This experience of Mary is a helpful model for us as we turn to God for what we need. There are a lot of things we need in our life. Maybe we need a job. Maybe we need a cure for a sickness or peace in our family. So we turn to God and ask God to help us. But sometimes it seems that God is not interested in helping us. Sometimes things stay the same or get worse. Instead of an encouraging answer, we are faced with a deafening silence. Sometimes when we ask God for help, it seems that God says, “No.”
It is then that we should follow the example of Mary. It is then that we should look beyond what seems like a negative response and move forward, confident that God will act. Like Mary, we should remember what is in God’s heart. We should remind ourselves that God loves us and loves all the people in our lives who we love. Because of God’s love we move forward, convinced that God will do something, and that something will be for our good.
Jesus, of course, did do something at Cana, and there was wine for everyone. But that would not have happened had not Mary moved forward in faith and told the servants to do whatever he told them. So pray. And when God says “No,” move forward in the confidence that God will say, “Yes.”