6 – Mary at the Wedding in Cana – Mother of those in need
On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:1-5).
On a 104 degree day in the summer of 2007 in our parish church, I never expected a reunion like what occurred. To “do whatever he tells you” took on a far greater meaning for my husband and I that day. After finding our way back to reconciliation by the mercy of God, and in our desire to come back into full communion with the church, my husband and I both had to get annulments. His was easy, he had only been married by a justice of the peace. Mine was a full Catholic church wedding. I had to go through the long annulment process – taking almost eighteen months to complete and be approved. It was a very hard process to seek out witnesses and remember things that were better left forgotten. But the church in her wisdom had to flush out what seemed like an earlier covenant to be sure. We abstained from receiving the Eucharist while in the waiting period and often wondered how God kept us together for the eighteen years together without him in our marriage.
Mary, in her infinite docility and gentleness, could not have been offended when Jesus called her “woman.” Most of us would have thought he would have said “mother” in light of her most important role as the chosen one to carry the son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. She would know from Simeon’s prophesy that Jesus had a unique mission set before him from God and that even in her quietness she would have a place in it. When Jesus says “yet,” I stop and ponder. He would have said that knowing she would connect the dots – and trust in his timing – to either begin or not. Mary’s walk with him even in this joyous occasion contained the moment of understanding that even at a friend’s wedding where an impossibility occurred, this too was part of living out the plan of redemption for the chosen people. She simply had to once again, surrender, wait and watch without understanding.
Six days earlier I spent my birthday like none before or since. After thirty-five years of being away from the church, I heard “welcome back” after making a full confession. Expelling the sins from my mouth felt like I was coming up through drudges of mud… so hard and yet so freeing each time a layer was spewed out. My pastor laid his hands on my head and said the words of absolution and I felt like crystal clear water was flowing down over me from on high, washing away every bit of debris. My body was filled with new life and it felt like I was floating off the ground. It was the same for my husband. He was so afraid to go but we found a very trusted priest he was comfortable with but didn’t know well. He was a gem for him; he came out of the confessional crying. “I didn’t know it would be that easy, he said, Look at me – I’m white! God forgave me!” I cried with him and we both prayed in thanksgiving. Why did we stay away? Why did we think our sins were unforgivable? Just as at the wedding in Cana, it seemed impossible. But first came the healing, then forgiveness. On my husband’s grave are the words “love is the flower, mercy is the fruit.” We knew that from coming back to the church, God had a very special plan for our marriage. It began with the desire to have our marriage blessed by the church – to do the annulments – the hard work of understanding covenant – and that in that love for obedience, fruit would come.
We had seventy-five friends and family gather with us in the church that day to celebrate Christ in our marriage. Walking down the aisle hand in hand and kneeling at the altar we raised our eyes to the crucifix and wondered where God would lead us. The reunion of receiving Christ in the Eucharist into our bodies was like heaven on earth, and the world seemed to stop for a moment. His power and magnificence flooded in and gave us new life. I can look back now and see how much God knew what we needed – much like the wine at Cana. God’s timing may seemed to be lacking for so many years but it was us who held out, not him. We weren’t ready for change; to submit or admit our sinfulness. He knew and waited. His timing. That word “yet” really comes into play when you think about it. Only one year later my husband would receive his diagnosis of Lewy body dementia. God would give us nine years to work out our shortcomings and come closer. Showering us in grace through sacrifice, pain and sorrow brought us to receive his cross as our own. Mary was with us through it all, showing us the way to “do whatever he tells you.”
Mary is known as the new Eve and Jesus as the new Adam. When Jesus gave the beloved disciple John to his mother from the cross, he gave her to all of us. Jesus knew at the wedding that when he said “what have you to do with me” that they both would enter into the sacrifice of the cross. I think it began with Mary’s intercession – action – and true faith even in the face of what looked like impossible. Jesus gives the gift of wine to the wedding feast, the gift of himself on the cross. Mary is there in both places next to her son, acknowledging his gift. She gives him back to the Father at the cross and receives his gift of us through John. She is showered in grace and becomes the mother of mankind. She shows us the way to unite ourselves to her son, through her great love. We are now the adopted sons and daughters of the most high God because of their great fiats.
Photo credit: Public domain and Authors
What a beautiful and powerful testimony of how God’s mercy transforms us. Thank you for sharing this moving, personal story, Cathy. Much love.
Dear Irene, thank you for your sweet comments. Yes God moves us in his great mercy and love!