The Back Wall: Quodcumque dixerit vobis, facite
Today the Gospel recounts Second Luminous Mystery, the Wedding at Cana. We hear these words today in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity here at Thomas Aquinas College. As you leave Mass this morning, you might glance up to the scripture verse carved into the lintel over the main portal. It is the last thing we see upon leaving the chapel to return to the outside world. The words are the last recorded words of Our Lady in the Bible, uttered just before Jesus’ first public miracle. Jesus changes water into wine at her request, and the curtain falls, so to speak, on Our Lady as it rises on her divine Son. Cana is the last domestic encounter between Jesus and Mary—the mother’s last words to her Son before he sets out for his public life and ultimately his execution. Her words are: “Quodcumque dixerit vobis, facite.” Whatsoever he will tell you: do it. Do whatever he tells you.
Our Lady’s prayer
Let’s look a little more closely at this First Miracle, which yielded the first glimmers of belief in his disciples. The wedding is at Cana, a poor village 15 minutes east of Nazareth. The reception would be shockingly poor by today’s standards. Jesus and all of his friends were there, and anyone else who could get in for a free meal and a cup of wine. Of course, the pitiably small amount of wine they could afford soon ran out.
Our Lady sees the problem, and discreetly mentions it to Jesus, so as not to embarrass the bride and groom. He refuses to intervene. In Greek, guné, tí emoí kai soí, “woman, what matters this to me or to you?” Our Lady is in a delicate position. She sees the need for wine, but she has heard the "disinclination” of the Lord. She doesn't press Jesus, but she turns to the servants: "do whatever He tells you." Mary here is the interceding Church, never growing weary in prayer. The Lord wants us to be "clever," to be insistent in prayer, and never to grow weary in faith. He wants us to ask for favors like we really want them ("you will find me when you seek me with all your heart,” Jer. 29). This week marks 40 years of legal abortion in the United States, and many of us are preparing for the journey to San Francisco’s Walk for Life. For 40 years the Church has been praying for an end to this barbaric injustice, a contagion that has infected every aspect American public life, a cancer that has spread from America throughout the world. Sometimes it seems the Lord refuses to answer our prayer, but like Our Lady we must not give up, nor grow weary in prayer.
Our Lady is a bride and not a slave; she is free and has rights with the Bridegroom, a holy confidence in asking for a favor. She is Mother Teresa getting a diocesan building from some poor bishop, or Mother Angelica closing a deal with Satellite TV executives. She freely and confidently commands the waiters, and naturally assumes general oversight of the household. Mary does not tell anybody "what" to do—she points it out to Jesus, apparently unsuccessfully, and then she points Jesus out to the stewards—urging them to a deeper faith, a deeper obedience. She's making the rounds, leaving no one out, interceding on behalf of all, simply encouraging all to have faith, to act on that faith. She did this at Fatima, telling the children simply to "pray, pray, pray." She respects each one's freedom, but points them to the obedience in which all freedom can develop. She is serene, because she has made her petition in faith, and knows that "whatever will happen, it will be within God's grace.”
And Jesus responds to her intercession, with magnificent abundance. Jesus, the man, desires the cooperation of the woman, his "helpmate." He wants to enter into a confidence, a relationship, a reciprocity, a marriage, with his Church. It’s impossible to imagine, but God wishes to be our spouse. “Your builder will marry you,” in the words of Isaiah 62:5. We are not only the sons and daughters, but the spouses, of God.
Our Lady was God’s first love, but not his only love. Through her, we each receive the grace of Christ to enter into that marriage. But Jesus our Spouse requires complete trust, and we must follow Our Blessed Mother’s words: whatsoever He tells you, do it.