‘Do whatever He tells you’

The church puts forth the Blessed Virgin Mary as the model of prayerful intercession. We fly to her patronage with our petitions, knowing that she can present them to her Son, Jesus Christ, as only a beloved mother could. At the wedding feast at Cana, we witness Our Lady do just this as she interceded for the hosts of the wedding party when they ran out of wine. Not only that, but Mary was not asked to intercede; she did it from her own concern for the married couple. Knowing we have such an attentive and loving Mother looking out for our needs on earth should fill our hearts with joy.

When Mary approached Jesus about the lack of wine, we sense that He was hesitant. He told His Mother, "My hour has not yet come," leaving the impression that there is no turning back from this miracle. By performing this public divine act, Jesus would set in motion His mission to save the world from sin and open the gates to eternal life. It was a mission that ultimately included His Passion and death on Good Friday, so perhaps Our Lord's hesitation here is the same He experienced praying in the Garden of Gethsemane: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done" (Lk 22:42).

Despite the hesitation, Mary encouraged her Son to begin His salvific mission with one simple command. Interestingly, this command was not directed at her Son. Instead, she spoke to the waiters at the feast, telling them, "Do whatever he tells you." These are the last words of Mary recorded in the Gospel, and fittingly, they teach us what is important in our own lives. We are called to listen to Jesus as He speaks to us through our prayers, through contemplation of Scriptures and through the teaching of His church. Then, having heard Him, we are at our best when, like the waiters at the wedding feast, we do whatever He tells us.

By directing her command to the waiters, Mary teaches us another lesson: our need to be detached from our intentions once we offer them to Jesus. While it may appear that Mary forced her Son to act on her behalf by directing the waiters, by her command she also removed herself and her intention from the situation. Mary freed Jesus to act as He sees fit. If it was not His hour, that was for Him to decide. He could have told the waiters anything or nothing at all. Mary was not going to tell Her Divine Son what to do or how to do it. As retired Pope Benedict XVI said of this account, "Mary leaves everything to the Lord's judgment … This is how she teaches us to pray: not by seeking to assert before God our own will and our own desires, however important they may be, however reasonable they might appear to us, but rather to bring them before Him and to let Him decide what He intends to do" (Homily at Kapellplatz, Altötting, Germany, Sept. 11, 2007).

Each of us faces situations in which we want God to intervene, whether they be our own struggles or those of a loved one. In these cases, we not only have a desired outcome, we also have a desired means of acquiring that outcome with a timeline associated with it. Or perhaps there are situations that we feel are beyond God's ability to fix, and so we sit back and do not approach Him. Perhaps this was the attitude of the hosts of the wedding feast who may have noticed the lack of wine and despaired that there was nothing to be done at that point. Whatever the case, Mary, the handmaiden of the Lord, teaches us how to pray. We should bring our petitions to God and then trust that He has the best way to address them. When God's will is fulfilled in the manner in which He desires, all will be well. We need look no further than the abundance of the finest wine at the wedding feast at Cana. This is a sign to us of how blessed we are when we place our prayers and our lives in the hands of God, ready to do whatever He tells us and trust in His divine providence.

Let us pray that Our Lady grant us the grace to share in her attentiveness to the needs of others, her faith in the power of Her Son and her docility to the will of God.

Fr. Wagner is Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde's secretary.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016