Homily for Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 20, 2019
Mary was the first disciple and first teacher of Jesus (important roles for the Mother of God). Yet there are only a few times in the Bible where we find Mary’s recorded words.
We know that Mary was present throughout Jesus’ life, but only a few times in the Gospels do we “hear” her speak. And every time we come across one of these gems, we learning something important about Mary – and something important about ourselves. For example:
- At the Annunciation, Mary teaches us to have complete trust in God (“Let it be done to me according to your word.”)
- At the Visitation, Mary teaches us humility in service (“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my savior … From now on, all will call me blessed.”)
- In the story of Finding the Child Jesus in the Temple, Mary teaches us to be patient and reflective as we learn from the tension in our lives
The gem we find in today’s Gospel is how Mary serves as an intercessor and how she can help connect our lives and our needs with her son, Jesus.
As we reflect on today’s Gospel of the Wedding at Cana, it is important to reflect on not only what Mary did in this story, but what she didn’t do.
In this reading, Mary demonstrates similar characteristics that we witness in other readings (Mary has a strong faith; she is trusting; she is compassionate; and she is patient.) Mary doesn’t get into an argument with her Son, she simply makes Jesus aware of the situation and instructs the servants “Do whatever he tells you.”
In doing so, Mary intercedes on behalf of the wedding party and places the problem squarely in Jesus’ capable hands.
So, how does this story help us? This story reminds us:
- To be attentive to the needs of others and be willing to help.
- That in our prayer, we don’t have to have all the answers. We can place our needs in God’s hands with confidence that he will give us what we need.
- That we don’t have to do this alone. Others can help and intercede on our behalf.
We regularly rely others to intercede for us.
- Think of the Hail Mary prayer which we ask Mary to “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”
- Think of the Penitential Rite at the beginning of Mass where we are reminded that Jesus is “seated at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us.”
- We ask the Saints in heaven to “Pray for us.”
- And, we have each other to rely on in prayer and service
So, what did Mary not do in today’s Gospel? Mary didn’t dictate what Jesus had to do to resolve the problem. She simply made Jesus aware: “They have no wine.”
This, I believe, is one of the most endearing qualities of Mary: She is a good and loving mother. She knows when to be assertive and when to dial things back a bit. And she is always compassionate.
Over the years, I have developed a certain, personal vision of Mary as my mother:
- She is the one who comes to us as we pray (especially in praying the Rosary).
- She is the one who stands by our side to help us better know her Son.
- She is the one who gathers all of our fragmented prayers (our hopes, our fears, our incomplete groaning) intercedes for us.
She takes all of these fragmented prayers, bundles them in her love and presents them to her Son, exclaiming: “They have no wine.”
Mary’s action reminds us that it’s OK to ask God for specific needs and desired outcomes when we pray. But we have to keep our hearts and minds open to the will of God. The outcome, the result of we prayed for may not what we asked. Our fragmented prayers may be answered in different ways than we imagined.
A couple of popular sayings help illustrate this:
- “God always answers prayers; sometimes the answer is ‘no’.” We have to pray, but be open to God’s grace.
- “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Our prayer should not be a monologue, a one-way street. We need to be in dialogue with God during our prayer and our planning, taking time to listen.
- “When God closes a door, he opens a window.” God’s plans may be different (even better) than our own.
This week, I encourage you to take some time to reflect and pray on this Gospel reading. Ask Mary to pray for you (and with you). Invite her to intercede for you.
And as you do this, speak to Mary as a mother. Share the good news in your life. And talk to her about the “wine” that is missing in your life – the different challenges you face.
Think about the “fragments” in your life that you would like to give to Mary. As a good mother and intercessory, trust that she will bundle your fragmented prayer in love and present them to God. And whatever God’s response may be, have the same confidence and trust as Mary to “Do whatever he tells you.”