January 16, 2022
There are moments when we hear Scripture proclaimed at Mass and wonder if we heard correctly. It happens today in the Gospel according to John at a wedding feast in Cana, Galilee. The mother of Jesus is present, and Jesus and his disciples have been invited too. A wedding is a weeklong celebration. The wine is running short. The mother of Jesus brings this concern to her son Jesus. “They have no wine.” Jesus responds to his mother, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” We are taken back by the directness of Jesus and his calling his mother, “woman.” To our ears it sounds disrespectful.
English is not helpful. Other contemporary and ancient languages have a way of saying something that is difficult to translate into an English word. We must not construe that Jesus in calling his mother “woman” is being disrespectful. On the cross, before he dies, Jesus commends his mother to the care of the beloved disciple and uses the word “woman.” “Woman -- behold your son.” It is better for us to hear the response of Jesus to his mother as respectful and honest. The tone and meaning of Jesus’ words are like Jesus responding to his mother’s concern when Mary and Joseph find him teaching at the temple when he is twelve. “Why are you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Both at age twelve and now in his thirties, Jesus is clarifying what he decides to do is always in harmony with the will of his heavenly Father.
John, the evangelist, calls the miracle of changing of water into wine “the beginning of his signs.” Mary’s observation to Jesus, “They have no wine” and her direction to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you,” are significant as we strive to come to a deeper understanding of the meaning of the text. “They have no wine” points to absence, to something or someone who is missing. It is like Isaiah in our first reading who is trying to reassure the Jewish people who have returned home from exile that they are not forsaken or desolate. God is with them. They are God’s espoused, God’s delight. “They have no wine” also recalls God’s promise of a heavenly banquet, a wedding feast that God will host for his chosen people and for all nations.
Mary’s directive to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you,” is intended for the servants, and for all disciples. “To serve the Lord means to listen and to put into practice the Word.” (Pope Francis) We find an example of this listening to Jesus and to doing what he tells you in the person and ministry of Rev Martin Luther King Jr. Monday is a national holiday in his honor. Words of Jesus resonate in the preaching of Rev. Marin Luther King Jr.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.”
Baptism of the Lord