“Son, they have no wine”
Marriages and weddings have always been a joyful occasion in almost every culture. In the Jewish culture at the time of Jesus, it was even more so. It was an opportunity for families to get together with friends and relations to celebrate with lots of food and drinks. It was to this that Jesus and the “mother of Jesus” were invited – to share in the joy of their friends. But something went wrong. “They had no wine!” The lack of wine at a wedding ceremony, in a culture where hospitality was sacred, would certainly be a disaster, a humiliation and an embarrassment to the couple and their families. Mary, as a Jewess, was aware of this and so she took the initiative to save the situation. But why did she turn to Jesus, her Son? Did she know that He could do something as miraculous as that? Did she experience the powers of Jesus at any other time before now? We read or heard some stories of Jesus doing some miraculous things as a kid when playing with His friends, like one that Jesus miraculously gave life back to a chicken that was mistakenly struck dead by one of His little friends. How these stories add up are inconsequential. But here the response of Jesus to the mother is clear that His time to perform such acts had not come yet. The miracles of Jesus, as John calls them, were “signs” pointing to something deeper and more sublime about the identity and person of Jesus. As such it is plausible to agree that this was “His first sign.” But Mary had always known there was something about her Son. She believed that her Son had inexplicable powers. But why did she never asked Him to perform any miracle to save their impoverished condition at home? They could have been living in affluence with all the powers He had. This is the point: the power of Jesus was neither for any selfish purpose nor for any form of displays. Mary knew, even more so did Jesus, that His power was for the fulfilment of the Will of God and for the service of others. This is the core message of St. Paul in the Second Reading at this Mass (1 Corinthians 12: 4-11), namely that each person is given different gifts by the same Spirit for good purpose.
Our gifts, or call it powers, have we been able to identify them? What are we using them for? Who is benefitting from them?
It is very caring that Mary made a personal observation and took a personal initiative to save an imminent embarrassing situation. The couple never knew what had happened and so made no request; there was neither a report nor a request from anyone to Mary. She acted on purely personal motherly instinct of care to report the matter to her Son. Notice here that Mary made no request to Jesus; she simply reported the situation of need. She is not the mother whom would suggest or force her Son to act in a certain way. She had trusted her Son and had faith in Him that he certainly knew what to do and that He would do the best in the circumstance.
This explains then role of Mary as our intercessor: all we need is to invite her into our lives, families and situations then she would take the lead. Surely a loving and caring mother is equally observant. She knows when all is not well, and since we have made her a part of our lives, our problems become her problems too. If she could do that for those who never asked, would she not do even more for those who seek her intercession?
“Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet” was the reply of Jesus. This response could be misleading, or even sound disrespectful. But taken in context, Jesus was speaking in the simple conventional way of speaking. Calling His mother “Woman” does not take anything away from Jesus as being respectful to His mother. To address her as “Woman” was to give her a title of respect, as Odysseus addresses Penelope in Homer; as Cleopatra, the famous Egyptian queen is addressed by Emperor Augustus. It was an expression of courtesy, like “Lady” and not otherwise. Jesus was as much as saying to the mother: “Lady, do not worry about it, I will handle it.”
Jesus is always on top of the situation. He is the author and finisher of our lives, the Word through Whom the entire universe was created, in Him nothing is hidden and nothing can confound Him. Mary knew exactly this and much more.
And so she turned and instructed His servants: “Do whatever He tells you” in anticipation of His positive response. This in itself is an expression of her faith in her Son. Then Jesus said to the servants: “Fill the jars with water … Draw some out now and take it to the steward” who tasted the water and it had turned into wine! The presence of Jesus and Mary made a huge difference at that wedding. Their presence in our lives can make a whole world of difference too.
This miracle reveals the following about Jesus and His mother:
- That they are happy to come to those who invite them into their lives and families;
- That they are present and share in our joys and sorrows;
- That their presence can change things, including the things that we are not aware of and the ones we have not even dared to ask;
- That Jesus cannot refuse His mother anything she asks, even when we do not deserve it;
- That God uses the situations in our lives to manifest His glory to us and others (John 9: 2-3); and
- That Jesus Christ is ready to provide our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4: 19).
We pray today that our homes may experience the joy and happiness as at a wedding feast; that our Church may be a place of welcome and service to all; and that we may use our gifts for the service of others to the glory of God.