“And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come. His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.”
Today the Church presents the marriage at Cana, as recounted in St. John’s Gospel. It is of particular note when making a Marian reflection, because it is one of the clearest examples of Mary’s role alongside her Son.
We encounter this Gospel one week after the feast of the Holy Family: another feast and Gospel passage which is one of the few, rare occasions in which Mary makes an appearance. Throughout much of the Gospels, she is silent, hidden, seeking not to draw any attention to herself, but point all towards God. One could say that her most ‘visible’ role is at the cross, when the culmination of her life is reached. Yet, each of the occasions in which the scriptures record the presence of Mary is for a specific purpose, and their infrequency makes them all the more precious, and important.
This passage presents her in a very different manner to that seen upon the hill of Calvary, or when meeting Christ whilst carrying His cross. It is an altogether opposite scene, one full of joy and peace – a wedding. Yet at this wedding, disaster is about to occur, as the wine has run out. Here, our Blessed Mother intervenes: “And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine.” Notice first the manner in which Mary speaks to her Son, not demanding a miracle from Him, or asking what He is to do, but instead simply informing Him of the facts, certain that in His divine benevolence He will come to the aid of the happy couple.
And what are her next words? A simple phrase of gentle command, made to the servants: “Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.” In a phrase that has so often been said on this blog, these few words and actions of Mary truly allow her children to understand the depth of union which exists between her and her Son. She instantly understands the words of Christ to her, and so issues the command that He be listened to, and trusted implicitly. Thus, Christ worked the miracle of turning the water in the six water-pots, into the finest wine, an action which was marked by the co-operation of His Mother.
There are many points one could draw out from these lines. Firstly, it should be noted how Mary is the co- in this first, public action of Christ, just as she will be in His salvific death upon the cross. She accompanies Him in the role of Co- for the entirety of His life, not just at certain parts. Hence it is only right and most fitting that she should be so specifically noted as being present at this miracle. Indeed, one can dare to say that Mary acted as the loving and tender Queen, pointing her Kingly Son towards the needs of His subjects. Just as she brought before Him the cause of the newly married couple, hoping to spare them the shame of running out of wine, so she also brings before Him our every need.
St. Louis-Marie de Montfort describes how Mary is the perfect way to reach God, because she takes our imperfect and sullied gifts, polishes them, and then presents them to God more perfect than we could ever hope to have made them. She is the perfection of Queen Mother, filled only with love for her Son, the King, and so responds to every request made of her. Just as she beckons souls to join her in silent adoration at the crib, so she calls them to the Royal throne and assists them on their pathway. This is the scene presented at the marriage of Cana, and is the scene which occurs every time one turns to her in trusting petition. At Calvary, Mary joins Christ in paying the price for sin, but at Cana she joins Him in bestowing graces upon the world.
Another point to dwell on is the consideration of the significance that Mary is with Christ in the moment He changes water to wine. For at the Last Supper and upon the hill at Calvary, she is with Him when He transforms the wine of the Passover, into His body, blood, soul and divinity. She is alongside Christ at each of these moments, which are so key in salvation history. Because of that, she is also present with every priest when he offers Mass, so that she can accompany her faithful sons when they utter the words of consecration in persona Christi.
As Father Emile Neubert writes: “Take Jesus from her, and you take away her reason for existing, you take away her very life! At her place beside the immolated Lamb, Mary remains His Associate throughout eternity, in His immolation. The priest must repeat the Sacrifice each day and this Sacrifice will cease at the end of the world. Mary gave substantial existence to Christ-Priest when she gave Him a physical body. The priest gives Him a new accidental existence in giving Him a Eucharistic body. Mary offers up the Holy Victim in union with Jesus. The priest offers Him up in repeating the words of Jesus.”
The reason for Mary’s presence at every Mass, and at every chief moment in salvation history, is explained by nature of the fact that she is Co- and Mediatrix. As Co- she accompanies Christ in every joy and in every pain, culminating in joining Him on Calvary. As Mediatrix, she bestows graces upon her children in the nature of a loving mother and queen, doing all so that they might come to know and love the Royal Redeemer. Her presence at the marriage of Cana should thus not be a surprise, since it is part of her motherly nature, her role as Co- and Mediatrix, and as Queen of Heaven.
“Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.” These are the words she utters to the servants at the wedding, and are the very same which she speaks every day to those faithful souls who seek her intercession. The words of the remind us that “never was it known, that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.” This is precisely because Mary does not act through her own power, but always with and through her Son, with whom she paid the price for sin. She constantly counsels troubled souls to do what He tells us to do, in order that they may become perfect and join her in Heavenly beatitude, worshipping God.
In just a short reflection upon this passage, it is impossible to draw out every aspect which is contained within the text, yet the underlying truth which is to be found in the Gospel is thus: the unwavering love of Mary for God, and the constant attention which she gives to her children, so that they might grow in love and knowledge of God.