Saturday, January 23, 2016

How Does Your Concern Affect Me?

“How does your concern affect me?” This is the rendering from the New American Bible of our Lord’s response to His mother’s statement that they had run out of wine at the wedding feast of Cana. The New Revised Version renders it, “What concern is that to you and to me?” The NAB version is stating that the fact they had no wine concerned Virgin Mary, and Jesus is asking her how this affects Him. In the NRSV rendering, Jesus is asking her why should this concern her and why should it concern Him. He is not saying that she should not be concerning; he is asking her to contemplate upon why it should concern her and Him. I think He asks us the same question. There are things that should concern us. If something concerns us, then it must also concern Christ, for we are part of His Body, the Catholic Church, of which He is the Head. Therefore, I can hear Him implying to our Blessed Mother, “You are right to be concerned; now, why does it concern you, and why should it concern me?”

Why was our Blessed Mother concerned? Why was she anxious, worried, distressed, uneasy, fearful? One common theory we hear of is the embarrassment it would cause the bridegroom. Would we desire that Christ perform a miracle for the sake of saving someone embarrassment? If someone plans improperly, should a miracle be performed to save them embarrassment? Because the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now,” one could naturally assume that the steward of the feast, and possibly even the bridegroom, were not aware that the wine had run out. Would one not presume incompetence at least on the part of the steward, and would not the bridegroom go over everything prior to the feast to ensure that all was in order? He would know how many guests were invited, and how much wine was needed.

Let’s pause in order to think. Jesus, at this time, is approximately thirty years old. How much has He revealed to His mother? Did they keep silent regarding spiritual things? That would not be the Mary we have come to know through St. Luke, who tells us she pondered everything. This is not the Mary who has given her life totally to God and, therefore, was told by the Angel that she was full of grace. Given the Mary we have been introduced to, because she knew Who her Son was, were they not conversing on deep spiritual matters?

Was He not also preparing her for the mission He had ordained for her? She knew that her heart was going to be pierced through; therefore, she probably knew that He was going to die for His people. Because she was not present with the other women going to the tomb on the day of Resurrection, it is possible that she was already cognizant of the fact that Jesus was going to rise on the third day. You would think that one of the evangelists would say something about Mary when Jesus rose from the dead; however, all remain silent. Although Jesus may not have told Mary that she was going to be the Mother of all Living, He would have, nonetheless, prepared her for that position. Perhaps, this wedding at Cana was part of that preparation.

Now, let’s return to the wedding feast. Why does what seemingly appear to be incompetence become a concern to the Virgin Mary? According to St. Thomas Aquinas’ “Commentary of the Gospel of St. John,” St. John Chrysostom says that the Blessed Virgin, burning with zeal for the honor of her Son, wanted Christ to perform miracles at once, before it was opportune; but that Christ, being much wiser than His mother, retrained her, for He was unwilling to perform the miracle before the need for it was known; otherwise, it would have been less appreciated and less credible. Therefore, He says, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me?” As if to say, “Why bother me? My time has not yet come,” i.e. I am not yet known to those present; nor do they know that the wine ran out, and they must first know this because, when they know their need, they will have a greater appreciation of the benefit they will receive. This could very well be true; I would not discount anything the Saints had to say. However, there could also be more to it.

St. John’s gospel is the “spiritual” gospel. Prior to going to the wedding feast, Jesus was probably aware of the fact that there was going to be a shortage of wine; and, perhaps, He desired to prepare the disciples that He was going to appoint to take charge of His Church, His Kingdom. In his Catena Aurea, St. Thomas Aquinas quotes St. Augustine: “What marvel, if He went to that house to a marriage, Who came into this world to a marriage. For here He has His spouse whom He redeemed with His own blood, to whom He gave the pledge of the Spirit, and whom He united to Himself in the womb of the Virgin. For the Word is the Bridegroom, and human flesh the bride, and both together are one Son of God and Son of man. That womb of the Virgin Mary is His chamber, from which He went forth as a bridegroom.” Therefore, Jesus may have been directing the Blessed Virgin to comprehend a deeper meaning in her request. “What concern is that to you and to me? My time has not yet come.”

Visualize a period of silence while our Blessed Mother pondered. Of course, we do not know what went through her mind; however, two thousand years later, what comes to ours? Jesus gave our Mother a hint: “My time has not yet come.” She may have understood that to refer to His Passion. She then may have recalled that her Son was the Messiah and that a feast was associated with Him. Thomas Aquinas informs us: “She says to Him, ‘They have no more wine.’ Here we should note that, before the incarnation of Christ, three wines were running out: the wine of justice, of wisdom, and of charity or grace. Wine stings; and, in this respect, it is a symbol of justice. The Samaritan poured wine and oil into the wounds of the injured man—that is, he mingled the severity of justice with the sweetness of mercy. ‘You have made us drink the wine of sorrow’ (Ps 59:5). But wine also delights the heart, ‘Wine cheers the heart of man’ (Ps 103:15). And, in this respect, wine is a symbol of wisdom, the meditation of which is enjoyable in the highest degree: ‘Her companionship has no bitterness’ (Wis 8:16).

Further, wine intoxicates: ‘Drink, friends, and be intoxicated, my dearly beloved’ (Sg 5:1). And, in this respect, wine is a symbol of charity because of charity’s fervor: ‘Wine makes the virgins flourish’ (Zec 9:17). The wine of justice was indeed running out in the old law, in which justice was imperfect…The wine of wisdom was also running out, for it was hidden and symbolic, because as it says in 1 Corinthians 10:11, ‘All these things happened to them in symbol’…The wine of charity was also running out, because they had received a spirit of serving only in fear. But Christ converted the water of fear into the wine of charity when He gave ‘the spirit of adoption as sons, by which we cry, ‘Abba, Father’ (Ro 8:15), and when ‘the charity of God was poured out into our hearts,’ as Romans 5:5 says.” Hence, our Blessed Mother may have concluded, “The Kingdom has no wine.” Therefore, she said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” Because the Kingdom had no wine, our Blessed Mother was concerned and knew her Son, the Son of God, the Messiah, was concerned, and that He would provide the wine.

There are things that should concern us. If something concerns us, then it must also concern Christ, for we are part of His Body, the Catholic Church, of which He is the Head. Our concerns also should be the Kingdom, the Catholic Church; also, our concerns should be our fellow human being. “We are not fighting against flesh and blood;” we are fighting spiritual beings. The human beings who fight against us, in actuality, are ignorant and taking the things of Satan as being wisdom. Do we hate any human being, our brothers and sisters, so much that we desire to see them perish, to be as Cain and murder our brother? Jesus loves all humans so much that, while on the cross, blood and water gushed from His side, the Wine of Life. If this is our concern, it is also His concern. Lord, give us the grace to do Thy will. Not only give us the grace to do it, guide us also in doing it. Can you hear Him say in reply, “Your concern affects me.”
--Tommy Turner