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The First Miracle of Jesus...

Praised be Jesus Christ through Mary!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

The month of January is dedicated to the Most Holy Name of Jesus: let us reverently pray His Holy Name and make reparation to our good Lord for the many times that His name is spoken with irreverence! This weekend I share with you a reflection on the first public miracle of Jesus. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week:

“The First Miracle of Jesus - The miracle at Cana. Our Lady is called Virgin Most Powerful:

A wedding takes place in Cana. This town is only a short distance from Nazareth, where the Virgin Mary lives. As a friend or relation, she is present at this modest celebration and Jesus has been invited as well, with His first disciples.

It was customary for the women who knew the family to help in the preparation of all that was needed. The wedding feast began and, either through lack of foresight or because there turned out to be an unexpectedly large number of guests, the wine ran out. Our Lady, who is helping, realizes that the wine is running short. Jesus is there, her Son and her God; the Messiah has just begun His public preach-ing and ministry. She, better than anyone else, knows this. The Gospel of today’s Holy Mass presents to us this simple and loving dialogue which takes place between the Mother and the Son. (cf. John 2:2-12) The Mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine’. Without asking for anything, she points to a need. They have no wine. She teaches us to pray.

Jesus answered her: ‘O woman, what have you to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.’ It looks as if Jesus is going to refuse Mary what she asks: ‘My hour has not yet come,’ He says to her. But Mary, who knows the heart of her Son very well, behaves as though He had acceded to her petition immediately: ‘Do whatever He tells you, she says to the servants.

Mary is a Mother who is more attentive to all our needs than any mother on earth ever has been or ever will be. The miracle takes place because Our Lady has interceded; it happens only because of her petition.

Why do Mary’s prayers have such efficacy before God? The prayers of saints are the prayers of servants, whereas those of Mary are the prayers of a Mother, whence they receive their efficacy and authoritative character. As Jesus’ love for His mother is limitless she can-not ask for anything without being heard… Nobody asked the Blessed Virgin to intercede with her Son on the distressed couple’s behalf. Above all, Mary’s heart, which never fails to have pity on the unfortunate… impelled her to take upon herself the task of intercessor and beg her Son for the miracle, even though nobody had asked her to… If Our Lady acted thus without being asked, how would it have been if they ‘had’ asked? (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Abbreviated Sermons, 48: On Trust in the Mother of God) What will we not receive if we persist in turning to her time and again?

Virgin Most Powerful - This is the name Christian piety has given to our Mother Mary, because her Son is God and cannot refuse her anything. (cf. St. John Paul II, Homily, Pompeii, 21 October 1979, 4-6) She is always aware of our spiritual and material needs; she desires, even more than we do, that we should not cease imploring her intervention before God on our behalf. There we are, so needy and yet so slow to ask! We show so little trust, so little patience when what we ask for seems a long time in coming!

Ought we not to turn more frequently to Our Lady? Should we not put more trust into our petitions, knowing that she will always obtain for us all that we need most? If she obtained from her Son wine that was not absolutely necessary, will she not find a solution for all those urgent needs that we have? I want, Lord, to abandon the care of all my affairs into Your generous hands. Our Mother, Your Moth-er - will have let You hear those words, now as in Cana: ‘They have none!’ I believe in You. I hope in You. I love You, Jesus. I want nothing for myself: it’s for them. (J. Escriva, The Forge, 807)

The turning of water into wine. Our work too can be turned into grace. Finishing our work well:

Saint John calls Our Lady Mother of God twice. The next occasion will be on Calvary. (cf. John 19:25) Between the two events - Cana and Calvary - there are several analogies. One occurrence is placed at the beginning and the other at the end of Jesus’ public life, as though to indicate that all of Our Lord’s work is accompanied by Mary’s presence. Both episodes highlight Mary’s concern for men; in Cana she intercedes when the timing of her intervention might well have seemed inopportune: My hour has not yet come. (cf. John 2:4) On Calvary she offers the redeeming death of her Son, and accepts the mission that Jesus confers on her of being the Mother of all believers. (cf. Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, 58)

At Cana in Galilee there is shown only one concrete aspect of human need, apparently a tiny one and of little importance: ‘They have no wine.’ But it has a symbolic value: this coming to the aid of human needs means, at the same time, bringing those needs within the radius of Christ’s Messianic mission and salvific power. Thus there is a mediation. Mary places herself between her Son and mankind in the reality of their wants, needs and sufferings. In her position as Mother, she puts herself ‘in the middle’, that is to say, she acts as a mediatrix not as an outsider. She knows that in this way she can point out to her Son the needs of mankind, and in fact, she ‘has the right’ to do so. (St. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 25 March 1987, 20)

His Mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever He tells you’. The servants obeyed readily and efficiently: they filled six stone jars standing there for the Jewish rites of purification as Our Lord told them to. Saint John points out that they filled them up to the brim. ‘Now draw some out,’ Our Lord says to them, and take it to the steward of the feast. This wine is better than any other wine that men have ever drunk.

Our lives, like the water, were flat and without the ferment of purpose until Jesus came to us. He transforms our work, our sorrows and our joys; even death is different beside Christ. Our Lord only wants us to carry out our duties usque ad summum right up to the top, to the brim; finishing them off so well so that He can work a miracle. If all the people who work in universities, in hospitals, in the home, in finance and in factories… were to do their work with human perfection and a Christian spirit, we will get up tomorrow morning to a completely different world. Our Lord will turn our efforts and our work which would otherwise remain supernaturally sterile, into the most exquisite of wines. Then the world will be a wedding feast, a more worthy dwelling place for mankind in which the presence of Jesus and Mary will imprint a special delight.

‘Fill the jars with water,’ Our Lord says to us. We must not let routine, impatience or laziness cause us to only half-fulfill our daily duties. What we have to offer is very little; but Our Lord wants us to place it at His disposal. Jesus could just as well have performed the miracle with empty jars, but He wanted men to cooperate, with their own effort, and with all the means they had. He worked the prodigy at His mother’s request. Imagine the joy of those obedient and efficient servants when they saw the water turned into wine! They, like the master’s disciples, whose Faith in Jesus was confirmed, are silent witnesses of the miracle. Imagine our joy, when, through God’s mercy, we contemplate in Heaven all our deeds turned into glory!

The generosity of Jesus. He always gives us more than we ask Him for: J esus does not r efuse us anything. In par ticular He does grant us what we ask for through His Mother. She takes it upon herself to unravel our prayers if they are somewhat tangled up, just as mothers do. He always grants us more, much more, than we ask for, as He did at that wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. An ordinary wine would have been enough, even one inferior to what had already been served, and very probably a much smaller quantity would have been sufficient.

Saint John is particularly interested in emphasizing that it was a matter of six stone jars… each holding twenty or thirty gallons. He wants to show how abundant the gift was, just as he would when he tells us about the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. (John 6:12-13) Indeed one of the signs of the Messiah’s coming was to be this very abundance.

Commentators calculate that Our Lord turned into wine a quantity somewhere between 100 and 160 gallons, depending on the capacity of those great Jewish jars. (The Navarre Bible, note to John 2:6) And it was the best wine! In the same way, in our lives, God gives us more and better than we deserve.

We find here the concurrence of two fundamental images which had been used to describe the true Messiah: the wedding feast and the marriage ceremony. Y ou shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God, Isaiah tells us in an extremely beautiful image presented in the First Reading of the Holy Mass. You shall no more be termed ‘Forsaken’, and your land shall no more be termed ‘Desolate’: but you shall be called ‘My delight is in her’, and your land ‘Married’: for as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your Builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. (Is. 62:3- 5) It is the joy and intimacy that God wants to have with all of us. Those first disciples, one of whom was Saint John, were amazed.

The miracle helped them to take a step forward in their newly-found Faith. Jesus confirms them in their Faith, as He does all those who follow Him. Do whatever He tells you. These are Our Lady’s last words in the Gospel. There could have been no better words, no more profitable advice.” (From In Conversation with God, by Francis Fernandez)

Through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, St. Joseph, St. Michael, and St. Paul, may our good Lord grant us the grace of a loving devotion to the Holy Names of Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

In Christ through Mary,

Fr. Kasel


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