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May 5, 2020

Mary’s Choice at the Wedding Feast at Cana

Dr. Edward Sri

It’s officially May, and you know what that means: It’s Mary’s month! In today’s special episode, recorded on location at the Wedding Church in Cana, Dr. Sri explains the unprecedented moment during the wedding feast wherein Jesus calls his mother, “Woman.” Dr. Sri then points out the often overlooked choice that Mary faced in response to Jesus’ strange words.

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Snippet from the Show

“With full knowledge of what Jesus’ first miracle would mean for her son and for her maternal heart, Mary says ‘yes.’ Jesus launches into his Messianic ministry, and Mary’s fiat continues.


The Wedding at Cana

In John 2:1-11, we hear about a wedding in Cana that Jesus and his mother, Mary, are attending. At this wedding, however, the couple runs out of wine to serve their guests. Running out of wine for one’s guests was a serious embarrassment. A great cause of shame for the couple, this lack of wine implied that they did not have enough money to serve the people they had invited. In other words, this was an impending disaster for the whole family. 

Mary Is the First to Notice

At the wedding, when the couple runs out of wine, Mary is the first to notice. This shows us the depth of our mother’s heart: that she saw a need and took it upon herself to help this couple avoid any kind of embarrassment on their wedding day. So she turns to the one person she knows can help: Jesus. 

Jesus Answers His Mother

When Mary turns to Jesus and tells him the couple has run out of wine, Jesus responds:

“And Jesus said to her, ‘O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’”

John 2:4

Have you ever wondered why he said that? To us it may sound a little harsh, maybe like he’s rebuking his mother. But by Mary’s response, we know this is not the case. She receives his response in a positive light, telling the waiters nearby:

“‘Do whatever he tells you.’”

John 2:5

Jesus immediately fulfills her request, and with great abundance!

“Woman”

So that leaves us with the question, what is the meaning of these seemingly harsh words? Let’s break it down. Jesus responds by addressing his mother as “woman.” In the Bible, there is no history of a son addressing his mother as “woman.” Jesus calls other people “woman,” like the woman at the well and Mary Magdalene, but this is the first time we’ve seen it attributed to a mother. Jesus must have had a woman in mind, a woman like Eve. 

In Genesis 3:15, we see the very first prophecy of the Messiah, when God is speaking to the devil after the fall. He says:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:15

So when Jesus calls Mary “woman,” it’s a title of great honor, recognizing Mary as the new Eve; the woman that will bear the Messiah into the world. This is also why Mary is often depicted with a snake under her foot, to reflect this prophecy. 

Jesus’ “Hour”

After this line about Mary, Jesus says, “My hour has not yet come.” This theme of the “hour” is meant to reflect the hour of Christ’s Passion: his suffering and death. We can see this in John 12:27, when Jesus speaks about his death after entering Jerusalem. It’s also mentioned in John 12:31, as Jesus speaks about his death conquering sin. Because of this, both the term “woman” and “hour” are connected through their reference to the Messiah defeating the Devil. 

“What is this to you and to me?”

The most important part of understanding this response is found in the very middle of the two phrases we discussed earlier. Jesus’ question, “What is this to you and to me?” in Greek is “ti emoi kai soi.” This phrase describes two people looking at the same thing, but with different perspectives. So when Mary comes to Jesus saying “they have no wine,” Jesus answers saying “what is this wine to you and to me?” In other words, Jesus is explaining that to Mary, the wine means one thing, but to Jesus, it means another. 

Mary views providing more wine as a compassionate act of love towards the couple. Jesus, on the other hand, knows that if he provides more wine, this will be the first miracle he has ever performed. This would be the beginning of his public ministry, and his road to the cross.

Put Yourself in Mary’s Shoes

Mary knew for thirty years what would come once Jesus started his ministry. In the temple, when Jesus was just a baby, the prophet Simeon told her that once Jesus’ ministry started, he’d be hated, misunderstood, and killed. Even more, she knew for thirty years that her heart would be pierced with a sword as he suffers the agony of his Passion. 

And even with this full knowledge of what this miracle would mean for Jesus and for her, Mary still says “Yes!” She continues her fiat without hesitation, turning to the waiters, saying:

“Do whatever he tells you.”

John 2:5

Mary launches Jesus into his ministry, knowing that at this moment she is letting go of her son. 

Imitating Mary’s “Yes”

What would you have done in this situation? Would you have been able to say “yes” just as Mary did, not even thinking about what it may cost you? Let’s pray that we can better imitate Mary’s continuous fiat every day, saying “yes” to whatever the Lord asks of us, even if it leads to our cross. 

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