Living the Gospel – January 20, 2019

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Love, Mercy and Miracles

From the Wedding Feast of Cana, we can see how Jesus’ love and mercy were revealed and how the disciples began to trust in it. We also see the love and mercy of the Blessed Mother.

Ancient Jewish wedding celebrations, like the one taking place in Cana, would last eight straight days. There were sumptuous meals every day and wine was served throughout. It was generally the happiest celebration in the life of Jews. In the ancient world, it was the family who threw the reception and if they ran out of supplies, it would be a lasting embarrassment.

Mary was at the wedding and noticed the impending predicament. Before the wine steward caught on to the situation, before the couple did, Mary saw the problem. Mary’s love made her notice the details that others were missing. To remedy the problem, she went to her son. She didn’t twist his arm. She didn’t try to persuade him, she simply said, “They have no wine,” confident that her Son, even though he didn’t think the timing was right, would intervene. Mary always seeks to solve problems by bringing them to her divine Son. When we pray to Mary, we ask her to bring our needs to her Son, just like she brought the need of the couple in Cana. And she responds as a Mother of Mercy.

Cana also reveals something about the way Christ exercises his merciful power. Christ was and is the creator of the Universe. He formed the oceans with just a word. He could have easily filled those six empty water jugs with wine…with just a thought. But he didn’t; instead, he turned to the servants and said, “Fill the jars with water.” He wanted to involve them in his miracle. We see the same inclusion later with the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. He who had created all the fruit and vegetables, all the beasts wild and tame, all the fish of the sea, could have easily fed the crowd by creating out of nothing a bountiful meal. But he didn’t. He asked his disciples what they had to feed the crowd, and all they had were the five loaves and two fish that a young boy was offering. Jesus took that meager gift and multiplied it to feed the crowd. He wanted to involve his creator’s contributions in his efforts. We see this same inclusion at work in the celebration of the Eucharist. Jesus could have easily established the Eucharist to be celebrated with the raw materials of grain and grapes that he created and have turned those elements into his sacred body and blood. But he didn’t. He started with bread and wine (made from human hands) because he wanted to include us into this greatest miracle of all. During the offertory, the priest prays, “Blessed are you, Lord God of all Creation, for through your goodness we have this bread to offer, fruit of the earth and the work of human hands.” Yes, Jesus could do it all; he certainly doesn’t need us. But in his love and mercy, he wants to include us in the miracle of his saving work.

Sylvia Bates