Skip to comments.Biblical Basics About Mother Mary – A Homily for the Second Sunday of the Year
Posted on 01/20/2013 9:42:47 AM PST by NYer
In the Gospel today of the Wedding Feast at Cana we have a theological portrait both of Mother Mary and also of Prayer. Lets look at the Gospel along Five lines:
I. The Place that Mary has – The text says, 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.
It is a fascinating thing about these opening verses that Mary almost seems to dominate the scene and the presence of Jesus is mentioned secondly. St. Thomas Aquinas, noting this says that at Cana Mary is acting as the “go-between” in arranging a mystical marriage (Commentary on John, 98; and 2,1, n.336, 338, and 343, 151-152). Hence in a way she almost dominates the scene, and, once the Marriage is arranged, steps back, her final words to us being, “Do whatever he tells you.”
How many of us have experienced Mary’s role in helping us find her Son and our place at the wedding feast of the Lamb. I know in my own life it was Mary who drew me back to her Son when I had strayed.
II. The Prayer that Mary Makes - The text says, When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, They have no wine.
Notice now another central role that Mary has: she is interceding here, she is praying for others to her Son. Notice three qualities to her prayer:
Her discernment - She notices the problem, probably even before the Groom and Bride. Indeed Mothers often notice the needs of their children before they do. But why didnt Jesus notice? Perhaps he did, and surely as God he knew. But he waits for us to ask. Yes, God waits and expects us to ask. In part this respect, for not all of us are ready to receive all his gifts. In part also, this expectation that we ask is also rooted in God’s teaching us that we must learn to depend on him and learn habitually to bring him our many needs. The Book of James says, You have not because You ask not (James 4:2).
Her diligence - Simply put, she actually prays. Rather than fret and be anxious she goes straightway to her Son out of love for the couple (us) and trust in her Son. She sees the need and gets right to the work of praying, of beseeching her Son.
Her deference - Note that she does not tell Jesus what to do per se, says simply notes the need: “They have no wine.” She is not directive, as if to say, “Here is my agenda and solution for this problem, follow my plans exactly, just sing here at the bottom of my plan for action.” Rather she simply observes the problem and places it before her Son in confidence. He knows what to do and will decide the best way to handle things.
Thus Mary models prayer for us. What wine are you lacking now? What wine do your children and grandchildren lack? Do you notice your needs and the needs of others and consistently pray? Or does it take things getting critical for you to notice or pray? And when you pray do you go to the Lord with trust or an agenda?
So the Scriptures teach that Mary is the quintessential woman of prayer, a model of prayer. She not only intercedes for us, she teaches us how to pray.
III.The Portrait of Mother Mary - The text says, Woman, how does this concern of yours affect me? My hour has not yet come. His mother said to the servers, Do whatever he tells you.
Notice three things about this brief dialogue
The Title of Mary - Jesus calls her Woman. In Jewish culture a man could well respectfully call a woman Woman, but it was unheard of for a son to call his mother Woman.
Hence this text stands out as unusual and signals us that Jesus is speaking at a deeper level here. In fact, in the Johannine texts Jesus always calls his Mother, “Woman” and this in fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 which says I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall crush your head, while you strike at his heel.” And thus Jesus is saying that Mary is this woman who is prophesied.
So far from being disrespectful to Mary, Jesus is actually exulting her: You are the woman who was prophesied. You are she from whose “seed” comes forth the Son destined to destroy the power of Satan.
In this sense, Mary is also the new Eve. For Jesus also calls her Woman at the foot of the Cross wherein He is the New Adam, Mary is the New Eve, and the tree this time is the Cross. And thus, just as we got into trouble by a man, a woman and tree, so now we get out of trouble by the same path. Adam’s “no” and sin is reversed by Jesus who saves us by his, “Yes.” Eve’s “No” is reversed by Mary’s yes.
The Tenacity of Mary - Jesus says to his mother, literally in the Greek, “What to me and to thee, Woman?” (τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι – ti emoi kai soi, gunai) Usually, in the Scriptures, when the phrase comes up (e.g. Gen 23:15; 1 Kings 19:20) it indicates some kind of tension between the interlocutors. And thus, on the surface, it would seem that Jesus is expressing resistance over his mother striving to involve him in this matter. And yet, what makes this interpretation odd, is that Mary doesn’t seem to interpret it as resistance.
Perhaps there was something in the tone of voice that Jesus used, or perhaps there was a look between them that resolves the tension, and evokes the sympathy of Jesus to the cause. Whatever the case, Mary stays in the conversation with Jesus, and overcomes whatever tension or resistance existed at first. In this, we surely see her tenacity.
And this tenacity comports well with the kind of similar tenacity we observe of her another places. For though startled by the presence of the angel Gabriel, she does engage Gabriel in a respectful, but pointed conversation that seeks greater detail. She also hastens to visit her cousin Elizabeth, and in the dialogue that follows, she proclaims a Magnificat that is anything but a shy and reclining prayer. She joyfully acknowledges the Lord’s power in her life, and all but proclaims a revolutionary new world order.
To be tenacious means to hold fast in spite of obstacles or discouragements. However we are to interpret Jesus’ resistance to Mary’s initial concern, it is clear that Mother Mary does not give up, and that she confidently expects the Lord to answer her favorably. This is clear from her confident departure from the conversation and turning to the Stewards with the instruction, “Do whatever he tells you.”
The Trust of Mary - She simply departs, telling the stewards, “Do whatever he tells you.” She does not hover. She does not come back and check on the progress of things. She does not seek to control or manipulate the outcome. She simply leaves the scene and leaves it all to Jesus.
IV. The power of Mary’s prayer Whatever his initial concerns regarding mother Mary’s request, Jesus now goes to work: Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the 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.
If we do the math, we may confidently presume that Jesus produced almost 150 gallons of the best wine. Mary’s prayer, and tenacity have produced abundant results.
Sometimes the Lord says wait, only to grant further abundance. Scripture says, But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).
The Catholic tradition of turning to Mary and regarding her as a special intercessor with particular power, is rooted in the passage. But she is not merely an intercessor for us, she is also a model for us. Namely, that we should persevere in prayer and go to the Lord was confident expectation of its abundant response. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16).
V. The product of Mary’s prayer The text says, 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.
And thus, at the conclusion of this Gospel is the significant result that many began to believe in the Lord this day on account of this miracle. And here is Mary’s essential role with reference to Jesus, that she should lead many souls to a deeper union with her Son. And having done so, she leaves us with this instruction, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Mary’s role is to hold up Christ for us to see, and she did a Bethlehem for the shepherds, and later the Wise Men; to hold him up as she did for Simeon and Anna and the Temple; to point to his glory and she does here at Cana; and ultimately to hold his body in her arms at the foot of the cross after He is taken down.
Note too, that as a mother, Mary has a special role in the beginnings of our faith, in the infancy and childhood of our faith. The phrase in the text says many “began to believe.” This is something called an “inceptive aorist,” which is often used to stress the beginning of an action or the entrance into a state. Thus Mary has a special role in helping to initiate our faith, in helping, by God’s grace to birth Christ in us. She is, as St. Thomas says, the go-between, the great match-maker in the mystical marriage of Christ and the soul. And having done that her final words are, “Do whatever he tells you.” And while she may draw back a bit, she continues to pray for us.
Here then are some Biblical basics about Mother Mary, in this Gospel of the wedding feast of Cana.
Somehow I am mindful of an old Gospel song which says, My Mother Prayed for me had me on her mind. Took the time and prayed for me. Im so glad she prayed. Im So glad she prayed for me.
I find it interesting that Jesus rebuked her (which seems to be his way whenever a specific encounter between them takes place) but obeys her.
I have never seen more eisogesis used in one article than in this one... wow! It renders it made up out of whole cloth.
“eisogesis” should have been spelled “eisegesis”...
In keeping with the methods of the article, the O was clearly a reference to Theta, but was unavailable on the keyboard. Theta being the symbol for God. Thus, the poster was drawing the attention of all readers to God - he was in fact, praying for each and every reader, interceding and drawing them to God...
Why do you see this as a rebuke? Mary knew her Son was God incarnate and so brought it to his attention. Jesus was caught off guard and it was more like a surprise reaction but acknowledging Mary’s understanding of her Son as God.
Thank you. The older I get, the more I appreciate how our faith honors all biblical figures. That culture is what maintains a respect within real Catholic families, no matter how low the worldly culture becomes, we instinctively understand God’s order of things.
We live in a world where Laga Gaga, Madonna, and endless other females that are offensive to God are held up as ideal women to our impressionable little girls. God certainly knew what He was doing in giving our families the gift of The Madonna and Child. I have always found that those with a special devotion to the Blessed Mother, truly adore Jesus and keep Him in their hearts.
I have 5 children because I was taught to trust in God like Mary did. The world could have easily led me astray, childless, divorced, dedicated to my career, or some other meaningless cause. Thank you God for saving a wretch like me, and for all the beautiful gifts you have given our church. We adore you!
**In keeping with the methods of the article...**
Ha! Quite witty.
Interesting, how the RCs don’t make threads centering on another instance in scripture: where the Lord’s mother and brethern sought to speak with him, and he ‘put them on the back burner’, proclaiming that any that hear the word of God and keep it, are his mother and brethern.
The Lord displayed a sense of humor at times. Speaking to the unbelieving Nathanael, he said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.”
Interesting that he also says the same thing to his brothers later in Chapter 7 when they urge him to go to Jerusalem for the Feast.
But in Ch. 2 and 7 he does both anyway.
What's this to mean? That his Mother and brothers knew better than Jesus?
No. Rather it's likely that he had to correct them that his "time" would not be until his death on the cross. They were pushing him to take a leadership position on earth; he was telling them that his leadership would not really transpire until his death on the cross. He did the works they asked him to but they were erroneous as to the meaning of his work.
**Jesus was caught off guard**
I’m sure you didn’t mean it quite that way, for the Lord has never been caught off guard. Mary certainly couldn’t fix the situation herself, but knew it would hurt to ask her son. She may have thought that his growing reputation as a preacher was sufficient to inspire the servants and his disciples to hastily work the neighborhood, and find some wine. She may have been as amazed as any present as to how it all unfolded.
While not what I would call a rebuke, he certainly let her know her place was not to try and direct him at this point in his life.
**he also says the same thing to his brothers**
Silly you, those are really cuzzinz, antz, an uncullz. (sarc)
“let her know her place”??? You can’t be serious. He fulfilled her request in spades. 150 gallons of the best wine ever!
Rather than "putting them on the back-burner" (which disrespectful act Jesus would never do to his mother since it would be breaking one of the 10 commandments), Jesus was simply using the occasion of their arrival to emphasize that those who hear the Word of God and keep it are as close to him as his family. This includes his mother, by the way, who we are told is blessed among women "because she believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." (Luke 1:45)
I was blogging with a fellow Christian lady who seemed to take pride in disparaging Jesus’ mother. It made no sense to me until she explained that in her faith, everyone is sleeping until the trumpet alarm sounds. Once the alarm goes off, the biblical figures and saints that left before us, finally go to heaven.
People who have this interesting theory can not possibly have any communion or connection with those who to us, are in heaven watching over us, and helping us. Believe it or not, to her Catholics are the weird ones, therefore she is somehow justified in disparaging the Blessed Mother, because of our “misguided” beliefs. To each, his own. Just more proof we have so much to be grateful for.
So many people claim to "trust" in God but few of them actually do. You did and God rewarded you with 5 children. The others "rewarded themselves" with careers and lives spent chasing the illusive goals of husband and children which conflicted with the career. Still others gave up. What you experienced was freedom whereas they were enslaved by the world. God bless you!
Do you ever cook on a multiple burner stove? ‘Putting them on the back burner’ is not tossing burnt food in the trash, or even a diss, but an ‘I’ll get to that when it’s time to’.
When made aware of their presence, he didn’t immediately drop his teaching and go see to their needs, putting everyone else ‘on the back burner’. Yes, he did use the moment to make a point about God’s family
He was careful, addressing her as ‘woman’, not including her as one of the twelve, etc. The Lord was also careful not to elevate her in the eyes of others, not wanting her to become a focal point of idol worship, as the forerunner of the RCs tried to do:
“..a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. BUT, he said, Yea RATHER, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” Luke 11:27,28
Note: the Word says ‘But’(changing directions), and says ‘yea rather’ (no comma between those two words), in a swift motion agreeing and directing attention to his chosen requirements of Godliness.
It wasn’t a rebuke in those days. “Woman” was respectful and meant “Lady”.
Another thing to consider — this is the beginning of Jesus’ career and Mary is the new Eve, not only the mother of Jesus but of us all.
The other bookend is at the end of Jesus’ career when Jesus again addresses his mother as “Woman”.....behold thy Son. And he give his mother to the Apostle John and to us as a maternal figure.
Mary always points to Jesus: “Do whatever He tells you.”
Oh you are talking about the Reformed Calvinists again.
Catholics are not “Roman” Catholic as many non-Catholics believe.
Our rite is the Latin Rite and there are 21 other rites that are connected to the Pope and are totally Catholic.
Again — there is no such thing as “Roman” Catholics.
It's no worse than this:
Virgin Mary is 165 centimetres tall, a visionary says in a new book
What brothers? Jesus was an only child.
Thanks for pointing out Mary’s actual height! I think the author of the article on this thread should show us how the Wedding at Cana reflected Mary’s height - say in comparison to the stone water pots - I’m sure it’s right in there next to all the other made up stuff.
I liked this part.
But, even if you don't believe it my broader point still stands.
Well then, I guess heretofore I should define your papal persuasion more accurately. ;)
Reformed Calvinists or unreformed Calvinists.......different groups, but still fallen into the same ditch.
I was born and raised in a Calvinist/Methodist family. Quite familiar with the doctrines. After 28 years, I obeyed Acts 2:38; and the rest is, as they say, history.
“What you experienced was freedom whereas they were enslaved by the world. God bless you!”
Thank you, in all fairness, I was taught to trust God, and have been ridiculously blessed as a result. The Blessed Mother is God’s example of a woman, and that is an amazing gift from God in our faith. I saw that example in my mother. Truth be told I could have easily been led in the wrong direction if it weren’t for His grace, and my Catholic upbringing. I never appreciated any of it until I had children. I grew up relatively poor (my parents married very young), but now have more than I could ever possibly need. It is almost as if God told me, “you see, all those things you dreamed of having are meaningless, without me.” It is true.
There are still too many of us who take our God given gifts, traditions, and faith for granted, so thank you for your posts, and God Bless you.
Jesus is seemingly always depicted with long hair, yet was not under the Nazarite vow. If he was, he shouldn’t have been drinking wine in those several acounts.
**say in comparison to the stone water pots**
Speaking of those in the painting.....musta been quite a chore hollowing out those stones, the narrow openings and all, and tough just making them nice and round, like they had been on a potter’s wheel. Vanity, vanity...but hey, painters have to make a living too.
Also, they painters like to portray Jesus, Mary, et al with their flowing garments dragging the ground, as though they didn’t have unpaved roads/paths to travel on. Come on artists, give it some thought, those folks didn’t have automatic washing machines.
Joh_4:19-21 The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.... Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
Joh_8:10 Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
Joh_19:26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!"
Think theologically as John does. He writes several layers deep. We aren’t concocting things at all.
From the Navarre commentary:
4. For the meaning of the words of this verse see the section on our Lady in the
Introduction above (pp. 35ff). It should also be said that the Gospel account of
this dialogue between Jesus and his Mother does not give us his gestures, tone
of voice etc.: to us, for example, his answer sounds harsh, as if he were saying,
This is no concern of ours. But that was not the case.
Woman is a respectful title, rather like lady or madam; it is a formal way of
speaking. On the Cross Jesus will use the same word with great affection and
veneration (Jn 19:26).
[The sentence rendered What have you to do with me? (RSV) is the subject
of a note in RSVCE which says while this expression always implies a diver-
gence of view, the precise meaning is to be determined by the context, which
here shows that it is not an unqualified rebuttal, still less a rebuke. The Navarre
Spanish is the equivalent of What has it to do with you and me?] The sentence
What has it to do with you and me? is an Oriental way of speaking which can
have different nuances. Jesus reply seems to indicate that although in principle
it was not part of Gods plan for him to use his power to solve the problem the
wedding feast had run into, our Ladys request moves him to do precisely that.
Also, one could surmise that Gods plan envisaged that Jesus should work the
miracle at his Mothers request. In any event, God willed that the Revelation of
the New Testament should include this important teaching: so influential is our
Ladys intercession that God will listen to all petitions made through her; which
is why Christian piety, with theological accuracy, has called our Lady suppli-
Seeing how three of four of my verses are from John, I think it’s fair to say that the author is reading into something that isn’t there. There is no indication that Jesus gave Mary special status by calling her “Woman”. He said the exact same thing about others. What specifically in the scripture would lend to that belief? It is obvious the author is prejudice.
Did you miss this?
**Woman is a respectful title, rather like lady or madam; it is a formal way of
speaking. On the Cross Jesus will use the same word with great affection and veneration (Jn 19:26).**
So when our Lord Jesus was talking to the woman who committed adultery and called her "Woman", we are to assume He is giving her a respectful title? I'm not saying that He doesn't. I'm simply saying our Lord Jesus is giving her the same title as Mary.
Jesus came for the sinners; anything wrong with that?
“In any event, God willed that the Revelation of
the New Testament should include this important teaching: so influential is our
Ladys intercession that God will listen to all petitions made through her; which
is why Christian piety, with theological accuracy, has called our Lady suppli-
THAT is where your quote veered off the road and into a ditch.
My quote? LOL! Did you miss that it was from the Navarre commentary?
When I used the word “quote”, I was referring to what you quoted.
I'm saying that our Lord Jesus equated Mary the same status as the "woman" who committed adultery. Now is Mary a sinner or is the adulterous woman without sin preserved by grace?
Why do you see this as a rebuke?
“Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.”
And notice He did not call her “mother”.
It’s not a big deal, really, but I just notice that every single place in the gospels where Jesus encounters His mother, He does not hold her in “special” high esteem. You remember when His disciples told Him his mother and brothers were outside and his response?
To interpret Jesus’ reactions to His mother as dismissive, is to not know God. It is like calling Jesus a sinner. It is projecting one’s own human family dysfunction into something that is perfect. That is sad.
God was very clear about the respect He commanded be given to parents.
Sirach chapter 3
RESPONSIBILITIES TO PARENTS*
Children, listen to me, your father;
act accordingly, that you may be safe.
For the Lord sets a father in honor over his children
and confirms a mothers authority over her sons.
Those who honor their father atone for sins;
they store up riches who respect their mother.
Those who honor their father will have joy in their own children,
and when they pray they are heard.
Those who respect their father will live a long life;
those who obey the Lord honor their mother.
Those who fear the Lord honor their father,
and serve their parents as masters.
In word and deed honor your father,
that all blessings may come to you.a
A fathers blessing gives a person firm roots,
but a mothers curse uproots the growing plant.b
Do not glory in your fathers disgrace,
for that is no glory to you!
A fathers glory is glory also for oneself;
they multiply sin who demean their mother.c
My son, be steadfast in honoring your father;
do not grieve him as long as he lives.d
Even if his mind fails, be considerate of him;
do not revile him because you are in your prime.
Kindness to a father will not be forgotten;
it will serve as a sin offeringit will take lasting root.
In time of trouble it will be recalled to your advantage,
like warmth upon frost it will melt away your sins.
Those who neglect their father are like blasphemers;
those who provoke their mother are accursed by their Creator.
God gave us the beautiful image of Madonna and child to remind us of the importance of real love, trust, and sacrifice in this sinfull world. Some of you choose to discard those gifts, good luck with that. Her example of a real Christian woman is needed now more than ever. God knew what He was doing in the early church thousands of years ago, and I have nothing but gratitude today.
Whatever makes you happy, just be careful. Some of you out there feel so entitled to disparage Catholic beliefs that you seem to forget The One who you are likely insulting. Most Catholics don’t worry about what others believe one way or another. God, however, needs to be respected. Those who love Him, obey Him.
....”those that provoke their mother, are accursed by their creator.”
Consider for a minute that what the angel Gabriel said is true. “That she is blessed among women, and God’s grace is with her.” Perhaps there is a remote possibility that God wouldn’t appreciate demeaning comments or calumny being said about the women who bore His only Son.
Even if I had no appreciation for the Blessed Mother, I would know better than to be disrespectful. Just saying.
Whatever makes you happy, just be careful. Some of you out there feel so entitled to disparage Catholic beliefs that you seem to forget The One who you are likely insulting.
>>Most Catholics dont worry about what others believe one way or another. <<
Maybe not, but the writers of the bible (and Jesus) are concerned with it at length. There is a lot of text devoted to warnings about false teachers and what actually defines teaching as “false”. The great commission also tells us to be concerned about the beliefs of others.
>>That she is blessed among women, and Gods grace is with her. <<
Yes, she was blessed and God’s grace was with her, as it is with us. However, God did not choose her because she was blessed. Rather, she was blessed by Him choosing her, much as a lotto winner is “blessed” with lots of money.
>>Perhaps there is a remote possibility that God wouldnt appreciate demeaning comments or calumny being said about the women who bore His only Son.<<
I don’t know about that. Seriously. But my comments are not about her. Rather, they are about how Jesus addressed her. To me she is a human, like all of us, who Jesus died for. She was blessed by events, just as Paul was chosen when he was Saul. Or you or me when we were called. And that is a good thing!
This is sheer revisionism. Among the last words from the Cross were “Son Behold Thy Mother” and “Mother Behold Thy Son” entrusting all humanity to Mary’s maternal love and care.
...entrusting all humanity to Marys maternal love and care.
That is an interesting perspective. I think it was more personal than that, but that’s just me.
After all, opinions vary. :-)