|by Angela Lambert|
January 17th, 2016; 2nd Sunday in Ordinary time
Gospel of John 2:1-11 NAB
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.
In his weekly Wednesday audience (from January 13, 2016), Pope Francis continued his reflections on God’s mercy by examining the Scriptures. God revealed that He is mercy, so much so that it could accurately be stated as part of His very nature or essence. Pope Francis continued on to assert that the image which best represents this particular kind of mercy is that of a mother. With these poignant words, he said:
|The Lord is “merciful”: this word evokes a tender approach like that of a mother toward her child. Indeed, the Hebrew term used in the Bible evokes the viscera or even the maternal womb. Therefore, the image it suggests is that of a God who is moved and who softens for us like a mother when she takes her child in her arms, wanting only to love, protect, help, ready to give everything, even herself. This is the image that this term evokes. A love, therefore, which can be defined in the best sense as “visceral”.|
The visceral, or deep inward feelings, of a mother for her child cannot be matched. It moves her to sacrifice everything, even joyfully, for her little ones. She is their best advocate, always working for their good and looking to their future. She offers the most sympathetic comfort and the fiercest protection.
Fathers can also offer an image of God’s love and mercy. Pope Francis goes on to compare God’s revelation that He is gracious to Christ’s parable about the prodigal son (originally titled the merciful father).
|Then it is written that the Lord is “gracious”, in the sense of having grace, he has compassion and, in his greatness, he bends down to those who are weak and poor, ever ready to welcome, to understand, to forgive. He is like the father in the parable recounted in the Gospel of Luke (cf. Lk 15:11-32): a father who does not withdraw in resentment at the younger son for having forsaken him, but on the contrary, he continues to await him — he begot him — and then he runs to meet him and embraces him.|
At the wedding at Cana, Jesus had just begun His public ministry. He had spent thirty years living a humble and seemingly ordinary Jewish life. He begins His public ministry by being baptized by John and then spending 40 days in the desert praying and fasting. He returns from this preparation and begins calling the apostles. Next He attends a wedding with His mother and brings His apostles along. The humanity of Jesus – the reality of His human relationships, real family, the limits of time and space – become apparent in this account. As Jesus transitions from private to public life, His plans bend around a wedding. Before He begins preaching and healing and casting out demons, He goes to Cana and celebrates the wedding of a couple he must have known or likely been related to. As usually happens at weddings, there occurs a snag. Moreover, this snag could embarrass the couple in a very humiliating way.
Mary’s motherly love advocates for the couple. She looks ahead and sees they are nearly out of wine. Rather than worry the bride and bridegroom, she goes to her Son and pleads for His help. She doesn’t demand He tell her His plan but rather trusts that He will take care of the problem. I imagine this is both because she knows Jesus’ compassionate heart and because she’s His mother and mothers expect their sons to do what they ask.
Jesus vocalizes the inconvenience of the situation. He did not plan that His first miracle would be to fix a snag at a wedding. Yet, in God’s divine providence, it reveals precisely the kind of love God’s miracles were intended for. God became man to enter our misery and the embarrassing limitations we experience. As Pope Francis teaches, “For God is great and powerful, and this greatness and power are used to love us, who are so small, so incompetent.”
Together Mary and Jesus image the love of God for humankind in today’s Gospel. Mary sees the need and advocates for the couple, Jesus bends in compassion. God operates in the real, everyday of individuals. He did not come to offer propaganda for the masses. He came to care for His beloved children with the self-gift of a deeply loving mother and father.
Prompted by Mary’s presentation of the problem, Jesus is moved and softened. We can have confidence and take comfort in the truth that He will have the same response toward our needs, no matter how seemingly insignificant they may seem to the world. The everyday difficulties and humiliations our lives matter to God and He desires to care for us in our need.
In light of this mystery, Pope Francis offered these encouraging words:
|Faithfulness in mercy is the very being of God. For this reason God is totally and always trustworthy. A solid and steadfast presence. This is the assurance of our faith. Thus, in this Jubilee of Mercy, let us entrust ourselves to him totally, and experience the joy of being loved by this “God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness”.|
- Consider the mystery of God’s immanence. The transcendent God, other from His creation, immune from suffering became man that He might share in our experience of pain so He could give us comfort.
- How long do you wait to ask God for help? Do you reserve only your biggest problems for Him when you have ran out of solutions? Consider bringing to Him every concern as it occurs and sharing the burden with Him.
- Consider how motherhood or fatherhood has made you more compassionate, merciful, and aware of the needs of others. How has it opened you to spiritual motherhood or fatherhood toward those who aren’t even your biological children?
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Intentionally entrust to God your difficulties each day this week – even the simple embarrassments.
- Extend mercy and compassion toward your children or spiritual children this week. Bend toward someone’s need, save someone from humiliation, advocate for someone in need of help.
- Pray for a tender heart like that of Christ’s.
- Read Pope Francis’ Wednesday Audience address from this past week: Pope Francis 1/14/16 audience
~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2016
|* To receive these weekly posts automatically in your email just click the “follow” tab in the bottom right hand corner and enter your email address.|