The Woman of the Hour: The Role of Mary at the Wedding at Cana
User’s Guide to Sunday, Jan. 20
Sunday, Jan. 20, is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Mass Readings: Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 96: 1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-11.
The Gospel this week, focusing on the Wedding at Cana, is important for many reasons: the attentive intercession of Our Lady, the elevation of marriage to a sacrament, and the creation of new wine — the best wine — with a single command from Jesus as the first public miracle.
Mary’s prominence in this Gospel holds great weight. The words of Jesus to his Mother may sound harsh at first: “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” When taken in the context of the whole of Scripture, however, they have many profound implications, one of which is his very deliberate use of the address “Woman.”
He refers to the Woman at the beginning and the end of Revelation, the Woman foretold in Genesis to crush the head of the serpent and the Woman of Revelation clothed with the sun who brings forth a male child to rule the nations, to the fury of the dragon. This is precisely the Woman Jesus speaks to now. It will be her words that begin his public mission: When she says “they have no wine,” she is the one who is the first intercessor; and as such, she will determine the hour. She intercedes her Son into public life, a life in which she will accompany him. This will very much be their hour. Mary, who brought him into the world, will journey with him even unto his death, sharing in his sacrifice far beyond any other human being and therefore participating in our salvation so profoundly that she would come to be called Co-Redemptrix.
The Woman who brought her young son back from the Temple when he was 12 years old, who indicated then, in effect, that it was not the time yet, now throws open the doors to the proclamation of the Gospel, the great work of Jesus, to reveal the glory and love of the Father and walks through them with her Son. And from that point on, every step will lead them closer to the cross: the hour ordained from all of time for our salvation.
What is also amazing is that we, too, are invited to participate in this marvelous work of redemption. For this purpose we are given gifts meant specifically for the building up of the Body of Christ. These are the spiritual gifts Paul refers to in the second reading: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, mighty deeds, prophecy, discernment and tongues — gifts bestowed on us in baptism that are meant to be given away. Gifts by which the Holy Spirit, with our cooperation, lives and moves and breathes in the world, renewing it continuously.
It is a glorious thing to be a sharer in the work of Christ to restore creation under his headship, to discover the unique charisms God has endowed us with for the sake of the Kingdom and to give our “Yes” to the particular way we are called to serve. It is in those moments of collaboration with Christ, when we are using our gifts, that we will feel most alive and see even our small and hidden actions bear the most fruit in the lives of others. In this way we begin to make him known to a world desperately seeking the life of Christ, like the disciples in the Gospel passage who saw his glory and “began to believe in him.”
May we ask Mary to make this our “hour” too, our time to embrace our call to be apostles to the world and to use our Spirit-given gifts for his glory and our salvation.
Claire Dwyer blogs about saints, spirituality and the sacred every day
at EventheSparrow.com and contributes regularly
She is editor of SpiritualDirection.com and coordinates adult faith formation
at her parish in Phoenix, where she lives with her husband and their six children.