Sunday, July 20, 2014

She points the way

Mary of Nazareth was invited to the wedding in Cana. Her son Jesus and His disciples were also invited. This shows that if you invite Jesus into a situation, anything can happen. This shows that Jesus will come to as mundane a thing as a village wedding. This shows that no one and nothing is unimportant to Him.

Things don’t go as expected. They run out of wine. Mary turns to Jesus and says, “They have no more wine.” She knows her own son. She knows what He can do. She bore Him, she raised Him. It wasn’t as if she was going to force Him to do anything, but three things are being demonstrated here.

She is His mother, so as a son He will honor her by doing what she asks. She trusts Him to do what is right. Without even having to ask Him, she merely brings it to His attention, saying in effect “Thy will be done” in this situation. She believes that He is the Son of God, and that He can do all.

His response, “What has this got to do with you and me?” draws out the fact that what happens next is the result of man (in this case woman) and God working together. When He says, “My time has not yet come,” demonstrates that faith can even move mountains, “If you undo your will for the will of heaven, heaven will undo its will for yours.”

John has to record this miracle, because it’s the first of the miracles of Jesus, and the first of anything always shows the characteristics of all the rest: A miracle of Jesus always has an objective beyond itself. It is never done just for show, as a magic trick is. It never does anything that is not already being done in the natural world, though in a different way, as regards time or sequence.

In the miracle of changing the water to wine, the objective beyond itself was to reveal the Son of God to His disciples, to initiate their faith in Him. The miracle was not made into a spectacle. Only the man who brought the new wine to the master of ceremonies knew exactly what had happened. The disciples would have noticed something had happened, and the truth of it would have circulated only among them. Water does not normally change into wine without going through several more natural steps: being absorbed into the grape vines, being stored in the grapes, being fermented with the juice of the grapes, and being stored in wineskins to preserve it from changing further into vinegar. Jesus merely eliminates some of the steps.

Is the focus on Mary or on her divine Son Jesus of Nazareth in this story? Or is the focus on the miracle? Each part of the story—a true story by the way, not a didactic myth—is of equal importance.

What is important here is to understand that nothing happens without the synergy between man and God. If God willed to do all without man’s participation, we would not have been created. God has chosen to include us in His divine plan so intimately that He comes to dwell in our midst, not a spiritual presence only—a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night—but as one of us. When He comes to live as one of us, He follows His commandments perfectly, even to the point of honoring his mother. What draws Him into participation in the life of man is… our invitation, our trusting His righteousness, our bringing to His attention our concerns, our belief that He can do all, our doing what He asks of us.

As always, Mary of Nazareth, the first Christian, shows us the way, shows us her Divine Son, who He is, what He does, what He wills. That is why one of the ikons of Christ’s humanity showing His mother holding him in her lap and pointing towards Him is called Οδηγήτρια, Odigítria or “She points the Way.”
True to her prophecy, we are among those generations who call her “blessed” till the end of time, and for good reason. She has followed Him to the uttermost, and so He has glorified her in Himself, just as He will glorify all those who, imitating her faith, will be glorified above the denizens of mere earth, and raised on high, will live in the family of the Holy Triad forever.

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