Do Whatever He Tells You

January 16, 2019 - 1:18pm
Wedding At Cana
Unpacking the Mass Readings for January 20, 2019

Today’s Gospel reading on the wedding feast at Cana offers two examples of prompt obedience and Christian discipleship.

 

The first example is Mary, the mother of Jesus. She notices the crisis about to unfold at the wedding feast: The wine has run short. To run out of wine would have brought great shame upon the family hosting the wedding feast. Mary sees the need and immediately brings the concern to the one person who can make a difference: Jesus. In her actions, Mary teaches us to go promptly to Jesus with all our needs.

The second example is the servants who give full obedience to Jesus’ commands, filling the stone jars with water. Even though they do not see how jars full of water will solve the problem of the wine shortage, they trust Jesus’ words and obey him perfectly, filling the jars “to the brim.”

Mary’s words “Do whatever he tells you” are at the heart of today’s reading. These words reflect her own interior disposition to do God’s will and inspire the servants to give trusting obedience to Christ. May Mary’s words encourage us to show our trust in Jesus by promptly obeying him in all things, filling our “jars” in whatever he may ask of us “to the brim.”

 

First Reading Reflection

Isaiah 62:1-5

 

The fact that the prophets used the marriage relationship to express the Old Covenant relationship with God tells us much about the New Covenant relationship with God. Just as the natural marriage bond is sacramental when it’s undertaken by two baptized Christians who minister that sacrament to each other, so also the human relationship with God in history is sacramentalized when the Church marries Christ; when the baptismal community covenants itself with the divine Groom.

So many of the current misunderstandings about what the Church is fall away when we finally see ourselves in the Church as the Bride of Christ. This scriptural understanding of Israel as the Bride and God as the Groom isn’t simply a symbolic device. It expresses in the only language available this side of heaven, and so in the most accurate way possible now, the reality of our relationship with God in the Church. That’s why St. Paul says of the marriage covenant that it’s “a great mystery [musthrion], and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church” (Ephesians 5:32, RSV).

 

Second Reading Reflection

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

 

Paul addresses many issues in this letter to the Corinthians, including factional disputes. It’s important to remember that the apostles and their successors (our present Pope and bishops) aren’t merely referees in these disputes. The Pope and bishops are the divinely appointed teachers of the faith to whom Jesus promised the direction of the Spirit. They’re charged with guarding and passing on the received faith revealed by Christ.

Paul seeks in this chapter of Corinthians to establish the basis of the spiritual equality of all believers based on the work of one Spirit. One could say that only the Holy Spirit could create unity in a Church as diverse as that at Corinth and the same is true of the Catholic Church as a whole; its unity is a sure sign of the Spirit’s presence.

 

Gospel Reflection

John 2:1-11

 

In John’s Gospel, the first miracle and Jesus’ public ministry begin at a wedding. At a certain point during the wedding feast at Cana, the wine runs out and Jesus’ mother, Mary, tells him of the need for more wine. It’s striking that Mary acts as an intercessor, a role she’s known for to this day. This story tells us a lot about Mary. She’s a person who’s deeply concerned about the welfare of others, and she takes those concerns to her divine Son.

In reply to his mother, Jesus declares that his “hour” has not yet come. The “hour” is identified as his passion, his death on the cross. Some scholars have seen the “hour” as a symbol for the Mass, where we renew the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary in our “hour.” In the “hour” at Cana, Jesus changed the water into wine; at the “hour” of the Mass, Jesus changes wine into his Blood. We gather on the new Sabbath, on Sunday, for the Eucharist, the wedding feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7), the new Cana, where we drink the new wine, the Blood of Christ poured out for his bride, the Church.

 

Discussion

 

With friends or family, watch the short Opening the Word video found on the “community” tab at FORMED.org  Then discuss the following questions:

Though Christ is the center of all Scripture, this story provides a unique glimpse into the life and devotion of his mother and ours, Mary. Through the witness of the Blessed Mother and the servants, the wedding at Cana gives the reader some insight into what a disciple of Jesus is meant to look like.

How do Mary’s actions in this story provide a model for Christian discipleship?

How can you better follow her instruction to “do whatever he tells you”?

 

Readers of this story can often overlook the importance of the wedding servants, and yet their actions provide a beautiful example of what it looks like to follow Jesus as an authentic and trusting disciple.

How does the response of the servants demonstrate the way of Christian discipleship?

How can it be a model in your own life?

 

 

Reflections reprinted here with permission from Augustine Institute.

 

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