The Mother of God asked for something, God said no, and she made Him do it anyway

(adapted from an earlier post)

Today is the Second Sunday after Epiphany. The Gospel is from John 2, the wedding at Cana. Jesus wasn’t ready to begin His ministry just yet, but His mother had other ideas. Was she capable of bending the will of God? Many Church Fathers have written on this passage: was it Jesus’ human will or His divine will, could they ever be in conflict, how did Mary know this was the right time, and was her will ever in conflict with the divine will? Heaven forbid.  The first thing we need to understand is the plain facts of what happened here: Mary asked, God said no, Mary got what she wanted.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.

Remember too that Mary knew the scriptures better than any rabbi that had ever lived. She knew about the Feast of the Messiah from Isaiah 25: “And the Lord of hosts shall make unto all people in this mountain, a feast of fat things, a feast of wine…”

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

In a certain way, this event is also the beginning of the Passion, because it would mean His persecution be hastened. That is what Jesus is pointing forward to when He says, “My hour is not yet come.” Note also the stunning depth of Mary’s faith… after being rebuked by her Son, who is God, she immediately turns to the waiters with instructions on what’s to come next… which was the Second Person of the Triune Godhead producing 180 gallons, yes 180 gallons, of the finest wine ever made. That’s how the Founder of the Catholic Church rolls. Happy Sunday.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

GOSPEL (John 2:1-11) At that time, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: “They have no wine.” And Jesus saith to her: “Woman, what is that to me and to thee? My hour is not yet come.” His mother saith to the waiters: “Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.” Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus saith to them: “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them: “Draw out now and carry to the chief steward of the feast.” And they carried it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water: the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, And saith to him: “Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But thou hast kept the good wine until now.” This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

13 thoughts on “The Mother of God asked for something, God said no, and she made Him do it anyway”

  1. I have been reading Michael Pakaluk’s recently published commentary on the Gospel of John, and he sheds a lot of light on this episode. He points out first that the only source John – or anyone else – could have had for this episode is Mary herself. So, this is Mary talking about what happened.

    Second, we read “woman” as rude, so we read Jesus’ response as a rebuke. But in the Hebrew, the word translated as such, while it does indeed mean, literally, woman, is in the idiom of that time something more like milady, or ma dame: a term of respect.

    Third, Jesus does not actually say no to Mary. He asks a question. Mary’s response leaves the outcome up to him: do what he tells you, she says to the servants. Pakaluk points out that Jesus knew well what her response would be, and wanted the servants to hear it, so that they would understand the paradigmatic importance of petitive prayer to Mary. Jesus intended the whole episode to work out as it did, as a teaching moment for the servants. And Mary probably knew exactly what he was intending to do. This is why, rather than responding to what, on this hypothesis, was a purely rhetorical question, with a substantive answer, she just cut to the chase and told the servants to obey Jesus: this being the palmary paradigmatic command to all Christians.

    I can see Jesus asking his question, and Mary looking at him with a sad, knowing smile, both of them completely aware that while the hour had not come at the moment of the question, it came at the moment of her sad, brave, loving glance in response. I can see her smiling at her son, the tears welling in her eyes. She knew perfectly well what he was talking about when he referred to “his hour.” Who knows, after all, how many other angelic visitations that poor suffering family had enjoyed in the 30 years since Jesus birth? And Mary had been the student of the Logos for all those years, in which he must have confided in her many things nowise yet opened to us, or even to the Apostles – all us latecomers, compared to her. It seems not unlikely that Mary too knew ahead of time that there would be a shortage of wine, that she would tell Jesus about it, that he would respond with the question, and that she would then *trigger the historical mission – the tragedy of her son’s death, that is to say – with her command to the servants.*

    Mary’s command to the servants was the incipience of Jesus’ hour.

    “What is that to me and to you, milady?”

    OK, read Mary’s next statement as her answer to that question: “Do whatever he tells you.”

    Thus Jesus’ hour arrived at that very moment of Mary’s respondent glance; a reiteration of her fiat mihi. “Do whatever he tells you” is just, “be it done unto all of us according to his will.”

    A lot of the foregoing was in Pakaluk, but a lot of it is in my response thereto. .

    1. Thank you for that little meditation, Kristor. Yes, Mary was not rebuked. Far from it! She worked in perfect concord with the Will of Her Son.

      This gospel is one of my favorites of the year also because it answers the objection of the “theistic” evolutionists that God would be deceptive to create something in full maturity and in the appearance of an age that it does not actually have. Well, he instantaneously transformed water into perfectly mature and aged wine, and didn’t mention the actual age of it to the steward. Was He being deceptive then? And anyways, He told Moses that He created the world in six days, so how would He supposedly be deceiving us exactly?

      Anyways, there’s so much packed into this event. We could meditate on it all year.

  2. Uniormitarianism is a philosophical tenet. It colors how you interpret facts, and it can’t be proven. Catastrophism is how scientists used to interpret the data. Can’t be proven either. But instead of fessing up that there are grounds for disagreement people just call you a science denier for the capital sin of disagreeing with the dominant narrative.

    The problem with uniformitarianism is that it doesn’t handle the idea there is a beginning to anything really well.

  3. There are plenty of times that God responds to petitions.

    Many famous examples come from the Old Testament, by Abraham and even Moses where they get God to “change his mind” as a euphemism, because God doesn’t change His will. He does speak in such a way of expressing an intent in order to prompt an intercession from someone who hears it. Abraham and Moses begged God to spare the lives of certain people. Similarly, Mary wants God to help the wedding save face.

    One big difference is that whereas Abraham and Moses specifically ask of God certain things…

    Mary is not specific.

    Abraham and Moses are more implying of what they wish of God to do, and they reach a compromise, where God grants conditions and spares certain lives, or goes about punishing people in a different way.

    Mary, on the other hand, only brings the situation to God’s attention. Implying she wishes a solution, an obvious one, yes, but then she tells the servants to do just whatever He says regardless of whether or not it is going to be what she thinks it is. She is aware that God has His will, and does not dare to propose her own solution to the problem.

    To be fair, Abraham also tries to coax God into mercy by imploring it in the form of repeated questions concerning the number of innocent men who inhabit Sodom and Gomorrah. As does Moses, by coaxing God with questions about what the other nations might think of God’s reputation if He destroyed the people He went out of His way to free from Egypt, only to destroy them in the desert. So Abraham and Moses also know God has His own will, and that they should not dare to contravene it.

    Mary, on the other hand, is not quite the same. She knows God will do whatever He wants to do. She did her diligence in bringing the problem to His attention. Then left it at that. She has faith and confidence that He heard her, and that He always does what is best. So she casually tells the servants to listen to Him and moves on.

    And here’s the thing –

    She did so KNOWING that His Hour had not yet come!

    This implies that there is a contradicting situation.

    How can this be resolved???

    Don’t we all have those moments in our lives where we can’t see a way out? Where we are constrained by our logic and limitations?!

    We imagine there are no solutions, and conclude that because of Situations A, B, C, D, and X, that God will not do something about it!

    Whether it’s the NWO, the Vexxine deaths, the Frankenstein Papacy, or whatever else! We may fall into despair or hopelessness!

    Or that maybe our base premises about certain things we thought dogmatic were wrong…? Like maybe Weddings are not so important after all? Like maybe there is no need to worry about the importance of wine at our functions. Like maybe the Papacy isn’t all that anyway… and so on…

    Are you looking around the world and despairing??? Don’t see any way out? Don’t see how two irreconcilable situations can be reconciled???


    Mary didn’t argue. She didn’t debate the facts of the matter. She left it to Him and told the rest, “Just do whatever He tells you.”

    No wonder then, that her Immaculate Heart will Triumph!

    And we’re all going to look so stupid when it’s all said and done!

  4. I have to question the commonly-held idea that the Blessed Mother kicked off Christ’s mission at Cana. This was His first public miracle but He came to the wedding with some or all of His Apostles. He wouldn’t already have those Apostles unless He was already beginning His public life.

    1. Avus251, some of Jesus’s Disciples were direct relatives and therefore family members. So they would have been there at a wedding the family as a whole was invited to. The reference to ‘disciples’ may have been an ‘after-the-fact’ description of present witnesses to the event when the Gospel account was recorded later.

      Though, for all we know Jesus was likely involved in a general ministry in the local synagogue before making known that He was the Messiah, and taught and preached here and there (heck, he was instructing the rabbis in Jerusalem even as a kid). So he could’ve also had a general following as a strictly holy man and teacher within the local community.

    2. Would not the descent of the dove at his baptism have counted as the first miracle in Jesus’ public ministry – of his hour? By the time Jesus, Andrew and the rest arrived at Cana, the cat was out of the bag: John Baptist, his cousin – and, presumably, his playmate from the days when they were both toddlers – had punched right through the membrane, announcing to God knows how large a multitude of people totally convinced of his authority that his divine Messianic successor was at hand.

  5. I think it went like this:

    “I think you should help these people.”

    “You sure? It will bring our passion closer.”

    Nods head.0

    The saints say the Virgin gets whatever she asks for and whatever she asks for is compatible with God’s Will.

    1. What T wrote: yes. In human terms, exactly right..

      As for what Johnno wrote: yes, Notice that “do whatever he tells you” is, not just an extension of the fiat mihi, but also the opening line of the Lord’s Prayer, and the consummation of Jesus’ prayer to his Father at Gethsemane.

      We are all, always, angels of some lord or other. All four of those prayers – fiat mihi, do what he tells you, thy will be done, not my will but thine be done – are vows of fealty to the Son.

  6. Would not the descent of the dove at his baptism have counted as the first miracle in Jesus’ public ministry – of his hour? By the time Jesus, Andrew and the rest arrived at Cana some days later, the cat was out of the bag: John Baptist, his cousin – and, presumably, his playmate from the days when they were both toddlers – had punched right through the membrane, announcing to God knows how large a multitude of people totally convinced of his authority that his divine Messianic successor was at hand.

    The bottom line: many people in the ambit of the family of Jesus, of Galilee – and, as AC Emmerich points out, of the Essenes more generally – must have been aware of him long before he got started on his public ministry.

    What then sets apart the miracle at Cana from the miracle at Bethany beyond the Jordan, and the proclamation of John Baptist? It is the first miracle publicly and widely attributed to Jesus himself (rather than to John Baptist, or to some odd freak of the weather perhaps) – thanks, again, to those servants he told to fill the jars with water that later turned out to be wine. It’s the servants who are the key here; like the shepherds at Bethlehem. Christ did not appeal to the Temple authorities for recognition of his own authority. He appealed to the commoners, steeped as they were far more in the lore of their nation than any of us moderns are these days.

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