Jesus answered: ‘Will you lay down your life for me?’ - John 13:38

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"They have no more wine"

It is no big secret, I believe, that we Catholics at one point or another, find it difficult to pray the rosary. There's a long way from the first Hail Mary to the last and so there are lots of opportunities to be distracted. It's a struggle, and perhaps sometimes, we need to find creative solutions.

Of late, I've taken to imagining the mysteries, as suggested by a priest. Got an overactive imagination? Turn it to worthwhile things. So I did. And last meeting, upon meditating on the Luminous mysteries, there was one mystery that stood out so vividly: The Miracle at Cana.

A wedding. People happily celebrating a union. Music, laughter, tall stories fill the air. Our Lord is right in the midst of it, although perhaps no one but His mother fully understood it at that time. Plenty of food to go around, plenty of rich and tasty wine to fill the guests.

Until suddenly, the wine ran out. The waiters were in a pickle. What to do? Surely there wasn't any emergency delivery service at that time. What to do?

The Bible tells us only that "when there was no more wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, 'They have no more wine.' " How could she have known? I wonder.
Perhaps, amidst all the celebration, there was one woman taking everything in silently. The stories, the music, the laughter. But unlike the others, she looks around and perceives more than they could. Perhaps she noticed a distressed look from one of the waiters, a small hint of anxiety. Here she shows how sensitive she is to the needs of those around her. Or perhaps, the waiters had heard about Jesus of Nazareth. Maybe they weren't sure what all the fuss was about Jesus, but just maybe, He could help them. But they didn't know how to approach Him.

'His mother is here,' perhaps someone said. 'We could ask for her help. He would listen to her.' And so they look for her in the crowd. It doesn't take long for them to find Mary, who is ever so close to everyone who needs her intercession. They hastily tell her the problem, growing more desperate as time passed by with the wine vats empty. But she doesn't need too many words; looking at their distress, she understands. Sure enough, she approaches her Son. Just like in the Annunciation, she probably didn't know how He will do it, but she was certain that He will do it.

"They have no more wine." Such simple words that all of us can relate to. We have no more wine. Every week, work keeps on piling up. There's hardly time to breathe. No time to pray. No time to do active work. Someone needs help, someone needs a friendly conversation, but there's just no time to stop. No time to sit and talk. No energy to force out a smile and encourage someone else.

I have no more wine, my Lord. I'm running on empty.

Then you stop for awhile, because the next step is just too heavy to take. You close your eyes, but it's too hard to pray on your own. Fortunately, you have the prayers of the Church. And you start praying the Our Father, the Haily Mary. Just a few, you think to yourself. I just need to relax. So one bead leads to another...and another... And once again you hear her saying, "Your child has no more wine."

And even though Jesus responds that His time has not yet come, He does it anyway. He gets up from the table and goes to the back room. At His mother's request, He responds to a plea for help.

But there's a catch. Mary says, "Do whatever He tells you." A call to obedience. You have asked for help. Now, be humble enough to do what He wants you to do. Believe in Him, and He will provide.

The waiters do not understand. But they already see Jesus walking towards them, and they have no more time to figure out what she just told them. So they take her for her word, for who could better know a son than his own mother?

When Jesus told them to fill the waterpots with water, they must have wondered if they'd heard Him correctly. They needed wine, not water. Did He even know what He was doing? They couldn't understand. But they see Mary, perhaps standing quietly to the side, and they remember her words. "Do whatever He tells you."

And so they do. They give him their active cooperation. They bring the wine to the headwaiter and it turns out to be even better than the first one. And for the rest of the celebration, they have more than enough.

How magnanimous our God is! Just when we think we are running on empty, when we think we've hit rock bottom, we find out that He has been safely holding us in His hands all along. Just when we thought our vat has run dry, He fills it to the brim. He gives us what we need to carry on. To this very day, He continues to offer us His wine, His blood. And when He gives, He gives magnanimously.

When we find ourselves running on empty, let's not forget that Mary is ever ready to help intercede for us. But let us also not forget what she said next. "Do whatever He tells you."

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