Today the readings speak of the goodness of God being shown and proclaimed, and of great deeds which reveal his glory. It is an act of love to tell others of God and to direct them to his care. St. Thomas Aquinas has a simple definition of love: “Willing the good of the other.” When we tell someone about God and salvation, we will what is best for him by directing him to the highest good, God himself.
The first reading is bursting with words revealing God’s goodness, and with expressions that fill our hearts with hope. Isaiah is moved to rejoice in the Lord – not simply because he is joyful but for the good of his people. His message is a gift for them! “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet.” He is compelled to give this gift of hope, a vision of the redemption of Israel in which the nation will be favored as the beloved spouse of the Lord: “You shall be called ‘My Delight,’ and your land ‘Espoused.’”
The Gospel too gives us an account where God is glorified through an act of love. Jesus performs the first of his miraculous signs at Cana, “and so revealed his glory.” He does so not for his own benefit, but for the good of the other. Jesus is our perfect example of actions motivated by love. We can assume that he was satisfied with the wine he had already been served and was not longing for more. It seems that he was not thinking of performing a miracle at that point. He even tells his mother, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” Jesus was not yet known as a miracle worker; he was a working man, a carpenter, attending a wedding in the community along with his mother and his friends. But we know from Scripture that Jesus was also a loving son, respectful of his parents (cf. Lk 2:51). He loved his mother; he loved his people. So when Mary points out a need, he responds with love, “willing the good” of the newlyweds and their guests.
The abundance of high-quality wine is a “sign” – a sign of the abundant love of God for his people, whom he regards as his beloved bride. Isaiah had proclaimed, “as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you.” And Jesus rejoices to provide his people with the choice wine of divine love.
Mary for her part did not even have to ask for a specific result. She did not tell Jesus that they needed more wine. She merely pointed out, “They have no wine.” What an example of humility and confidence in prayer! When we pray about a difficult situation, we often tell the Lord what we think the best solution would be. We ask for healing, or consolation, or a change of heart for another. But the more we trust in the Lord’s mercy, the more we can merely place the situation before him, without attempting to determine his response. Mary’s confidence in divine mercy continues as she directs others to trust in him. She tells the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” This is exactly what she says to us as well. Those who are cautious about honoring Mary “too much” can learn from this passage that her role is always to lead others to her Son; her message is never about herself, but always, “Do whatever he tells you.”
The second reading reinforces the message of doing good for love of the other. St. Paul writes to the Corinthians about the various gifts and forms of service in the Church, pointing out that all gifts come from God so that we can help one another. “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” While we may think of benefits as being something that will be good for us, this reading reminds us that all our gifts and goods are to be used for the Church as a whole. When we each use our God-given gifts to benefit the community, we are instruments of his love. By our actions we “proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations!”
When do I will “the good of the other”? Like Mary, does my prayer life reflect confidence and humility? How can I remain open to the works of Christ in my life?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 15, no. 2. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.