Today the Gospel recounts the Second Luminous Mystery, the Wedding at Cana. We hear the last recorded words of our Lady today, uttered just before Jesus’ first public miracle: “Quodcumque dixerit vobis, facite.” Whatsoever he will tell you: do it. “Do whatever he tells you.”
Not my problem
The wedding is at Cana, a village 15 minutes east of Nazareth. The reception would be shockingly poor by today’s standards; the modest amount of wine the newlyweds could afford soon ran out. Our Lady sees the impending embarrassment, and discreetly mentions it to Jesus, who at first refuses. In Greek he says guné, tí emoí kai soí, “woman, what matters this to me or to you?” It’s not my problem. Our Lady doesn't press Jesus, but she finds another way to entrust the Lord with her prayer. And this is how he wants us to pray—to ask for grace like we really want it ("you will find me when you seek me with all your heart,” Jer. 29). This week marks 43 years of legal abortion in the United States, and many of us are preparing for the Walk for Life on Saturday. The Church will keep on walking, and keep on praying, as we have these 43 years, until this barbaric injustice is corrected. Like Our Lady we will persist in prayer, but trust God’s perfect will, even if it seems he is ignoring us.
The wine of human relationships
Notice that Jesus does his first public miracle at a wedding. He doesn’t just bless the wedding with a wave of his hand; he provides 150 gallons of the most excellent wine so that the people might enjoy themselves in each other’s company. Wine, in biblical terms, is joy (“he gives wine cheer the hearts of men” Ps 105). God is not satisfied with mere politeness at his wedding party, and neither are we. He wants us to laugh and sing and dance with each other, to form deep and trusting friendships. But why is deep friendship so elusive? We learn to keep our distance from others because we discover that deeper human relationships always include pain. Everyone has issues, and it’s just too much trouble to share those issues. Without occasionally entering into another’s pain, however, we will never enjoy real friendship, either with God or with other human beings. The pain we must share with those we love is a small price to pay. God doesn’t want us to live in isolation, and neither do we. The first recorded observation of God about human nature, in Gen 3, is that it is not good for man to be alone.
A Parish Family
Do you feel isolated in this large city? Do you feel isolated in this large urban parish? Is it a home to you, or just a place to get the sacraments and get out? Many of us have good friends in the parish, but I’ll bet most of us don’t know the names of the people sitting around us right now. Young people often say that Mass is boring. They say that because young people crave authentic friendships, and they are not finding them at Mass. In fact, church is boring if it does not provide the wine of human and divine warmth. And if young people do not find the joy of human warmth at Mass, they will find it elsewhere—in a bar, at a football game, on the street. Unless we adults put some energy into making our parish a family, a place where people want to learn each other’s names, our children will find love elsewhere.
Mother brings us together
Our Lady brings the wine—the joy of human warmth—to a group of invitees who probably didn’t know each other well. Here at Star of the Sea we are still largely a congregation of anonymous people, and that’s a shame because we are parish named for Our Lady. Many friendship groups are forming in our parish, thanks be to God, but we have a long way before we will attract young people looking for love. You and your children need more than that in a parish.
A few suggestions to make our parish more like a home: Many folks escape out the 8th Ave door after Mass, presumably so they won’t have to greet anyone between their pew and their car. Even if you walked to Mass, a simple act of charity would be to exit toward the parking lot, which is the only social space we have at Star. You would have occasion to learn each other’s names, and maybe make a new friend. You could join one of our bible studies and sit for an hour with ten other people around the bible; you could come to the monthly barbecues or the Tuesday holy hour to pray the rosary together. You could attend the next Star Speaker Series—we always have hospitality after the talk—or you could attend Saturday’s Walk for Life as a parish rather than as isolated individuals. Our Lady will help us become a parish family, and will provide the wine of real human warmth, so that this parish becomes a truly human community. That is what God wants, that is what we all need as human beings.