“Mondays with Mary” – Mary, Our Guide Through Lent

The connection of the Lenten Season with Mary is not always the most obvious. The Stations of the Cross as do the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary give us some insight of the Passion of Jesus Christ through the eyes of Mary.

During Lent, Mary is the ideal companion for us since it is in Lent that that she places her special role as the shelter of sinners and comforter of the afflicted. It is also during this season that we focus our hearts and minds to the contemplation of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ.

Simply, Mary, as our guide through Lent helps us search for Jesus and then leads us directly to the cross on Calvary, and while at the cross, we are then given to Mary and she is given to us.

Today we are going to draw from three great minds of the 20th century to help us understand the Lenten themes with Mary as our guide. They are Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger aka Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope St. John Paul II.

Hans Urs Von Balthasar – Mary for Today

“Mary plays a mysterious role at the Wedding at Cana. The couple whose wedding is was there clearly friends of the family in Nazareth…Mary is one among many other guests. But she is the first to notice the embarrassing situation these probably not very well off people are in…what is noted here is Mary’s awareness of the need of the poor and her instinctive feeling that her son must know about it and can somehow provide help…

And then it is as if the whole scene had moved up onto a higher plane. Jesus has started on his ministry: he is no longer this person’s son. And in his ministry he no longer sees Mary as his own mother but as “the woman”, the other, the “helpmate”, who however will only start in her own proper role when he finally, on the Cross, becomes the “New Adam”. She has already suffered: the sword has already pierced her soul. He on the other hand is only now marching toward his ‘hour’.”

Mary is not just one who leads us closer to Christ in Lent, she is always leading us closer to Christ for it is he who will cure us of our sins, he who will turn water into wine for us, and it’s his sacrifice on the cross that gives us all.

Focusing on the embarrassment of the situation, how many times are we embarrassed by our actions and words, our very sins? How many times do I feel embarrassed to be call myself a Catholic Christian when I do things contrary to what I know is the right thing?

The words “Do whatever he tells you” although directed towards the servants, have meaning for us. As Mary guides us to Jesus, that phrase should be in our minds for it is what exactly what every saint has tried to do – align their will with the will of God. We should be doing whatever our Lord tells us to do.

sign of the cross

Just as Mary said, “Yes” at the Annunciation and at Calvary, our yes to Jesus is not a one-time yes, but a yes that needs to be repeated, and strengthened during Lent.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) – Mary: The Church at the Source

“Luke’s first express mention of the Cross as an aspect of Mary’s grace, prophecy, and mysticism occurs in her encounter with the aged Simeon…The sword shall pierce her heart – this statement foreshadows the Son’s Passion, which will become her own passion…The Pieta completes the picture of the Cross, because Mary is the accepted Cross, the Cross communicating itself in love, the Cross that now allows us to experience in her compassion the compassion of God. In this way the Mother’s affliction is Easter affliction, which already inaugurates the transformation of death into a redemptive being-with of love.”

At the Cross of Christ, Mary consents again to the giving up of her son. During the Lenten Season, as we walk with Christ to the cross, through the desert, so too are we giving our consent, but the consent to give up of ourselves.

For each of us, we must learn to joyfully embrace the Cross. The joy I speak is not banal joy of forgetfulness, but real joy. The joy that is expressed with reason and faith. As Ratzinger says, “real joy that gives us the courage to venture the exodus of love into the burning holiness of God. It is the true joy that pain does not destroy but first brings to it maturity. Only the joy that stands the test of pain and is stronger than affliction is authentic.”

Pope St. John Paul II – Redemptoris Mater (Mother of the Redeemer)

At the foot of the Cross Mary shares through faith in the shocking mystery of this self-emptying. This is perhaps the deepest “kenosis” of faith in human history. Through faith the Mother shares in the death of her Son, in his redeeming death; but in contrast with the faith of the disciples who fled, hers was far more enlightened. On Golgotha, Jesus through the Cross definitively confirmed that he was the “sign of contradiction” foretold by Simeon. At the same time, there were also fulfilled on Golgotha the words which Simeon had addressed to Mary: “and a sword will pierce through your own soul also.”

During this Lenten Season, and as our guide, Mary shows us as she did herself at the cross, how to self-empty ourselves. As co-heirs in Christ’s salvation, we take part in our way of emptying ourselves of our sins and focusing our attention back on him and back to the Cross.

As our guide through Lent, Mary also shows to us what it is to have great faith. We see her faith first at the Annunciation where she willingly accepts the invitation of the Divine Angel to be the Mother of the Savior. We also see Mary’s great faith at the cross where she says Yes again to death of her son. Even though the majority of the apostles ran in fear, she along with the other women (and John) stood at the foot of cross in great faith.

As John Paul II states in Redemptoris Mater,

“Living side by side with her Son under the same roof, and faithfully preserving ‘in her union with her Son’ she advanced in her pilgrimage of faith,”…by “suffering deeply with her only-begotten Son and joining herself with her maternal spirit to his sacrifice, lovingly consenting to the immolation of the victim to whom she had given birth,” in this way Mary “faithfully preserved her union with her Son even to the Cross.” It is a union through faith- the same faith with which she had received the angel’s revelation at the Annunciation.

As Mary (and Joseph) searched for Jesus and found him in Temple, in Lent, we search more diligently for Jesus with Mary. The more we follow Jesus, with the assistance of the Blessed Mother; we too will increase in faith, spiritual wisdom, and charity for all.

“Mondays with Mary” – Six Words of Pope John Paul II on Mary at the Cross

In the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I believe there are three important biblical events that define her mission and role in Salvation History – the Annunciation, the Wedding Feast at Cana, and Jesus’ Crucifixion. Mary plays a major role in each of these revealed events, first, because she is the Immaculate Virgin and Mother of God, and second, because these events help define her actions in the life of the Church after the Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Each of these events run in conjunction with one another and continue to provide for us Mary’s important role in the life of Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church.

Being that this is my 100th “Mondays with Mary”, I would like to present to you not only my love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, but also for the only Pope to have the letter “M” on his papal shield, the soon-to-be Pope St. John Paul II. The reason I write this blog and work as the Director of Adult Evangelization and Catechesis at Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church is because of the great influence John Paul II has had on my life.

Below are six quotes from Pope St. John Paul II focusing on the three events in the life of Mary I mentioned above. Since we are in Holy Week and looking towards Good Friday, each of the quotes corresponds to Mary’s presence at the foot of the cross. It is at the foot of the cross that Mary’s maternal mediation, her universal care for all Christians and all humanity takes effect.

MHS_Ukrzyzowanie_XVI_w_Kostarowce_p

“…How poor she was on Bethlehem night and how poor on Calvary! How obedient she was at the moment of the Annunciation, and then – at the foot of the cross – obedient  even to the point of assenting to the death of her Son, who became obedient ‘unto death’! How dedicated she was in all her earthly life to the cause of the kingdom of heaven through most chaste love.” – Redemptoris Donum, 17

“…The handmaid of the Lord in the poverty of the anawim, the Mother of Fair love from Bethlehem to Calvary and beyond, the obedient virgin whose “yes” to God changed our history, the contemplative who kept all of these things in her heart, the missionary hurrying to Hebron, the one who was sensitive to the needs at Cana, the steadfast witness at the foot of the cross, the center of unity which held the young Church together in its expectation of the Holy Spirit – Mary showed throughout her life all those values to which religious consecration is directed…” – Essential Elements in the Church’s Teaching on the Religious Life…, 53

“The words uttered by Jesus from the cross signifying the motherhood of her who bore Christ finds a “new” continuation in the Church and through the Church, symbolized and represented by John. In this way, she who as the one “full of grace” was brought into the mystery of Christ in order to be his Mother and the Holy Mother of God…” – Redemptoris Mater, 24

“On the cross Christ said: ‘Woman, behold your son!’ With these words he opened in a new way his Mother’s heart. A little later, the Roman soldier’s spear pierced the side of the Crucified one. That pierced heart became a sign of the Redemption achieved through the death of the Lamb of God.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary – opened with the words ‘Woman, behold your son!’ – is spiritually united with the heart of her Son, opened by the soldiers spear. Mary’s heart was opened by the same love for man and for the world with which Christ loved man and the world, offering himself for them on the cross, until the soldier’s spear struck that blow.

Consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means drawing near, through the Mother’s intercession, to the very Fountain of Life that sprang fourth from Golgotha. This Fountain pours fourth unceasingly redemption and grace. In it reparation is made consensually for the sins of the world. It is the ceaseless source of new life and holiness.” – Address, Fatima, May 13, 1982

“…Later, all the generations of disciples, of those who confess and love Christ, like the Apostle John, spiritually took this Mother to their own homes, and she was thus included in the history of salvation and in the Church’s mission from the very beginning, that is, from the moment of the Annunciation. Accordingly, we who form today’s generation of disciples of Christ all wish to unite ourselves with her in a special way. We do so with all our attachment to our ancient tradition and also with full respect and love for the members of all the Christian communities.” – Redemptoris Hominis, 22

“…Standing by the cross’ (Jn. 19:25), Mary shares in the gift which the Son makes of himself: she offers Jesus, gives him over, and begets him to the end for our sake. The ‘yes’ spoken on the day of the Annunciation reaches full maturity on the day of the cross, when the time comes for Mary to receive the beget as her children all those who become disciples, pouring out upon them the saving love of her Son: ‘When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple who he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold you son!’ (Jn 19:26). – Evangelium Vitae, 103

During this Holiest of All Weeks, let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to walk with us as she walked with Christ to Calvary. Let us petition her to assist in the carrying of our crosses and that the grace poured out upon Calvary on Good Friday will be made readily available to us through the sacramental life of the Church – most especially in the sacrifice of the Holy Mass and through the Mediatrix of all Graces.

All Praise and Thanksgiving to Jesus Christ! This is my 100th “Mondays with Mary”. To read the other 99 blog posts, check out the “Mondays with Mary” page. Thank you to everyone who reads these posts and have shared them with others over nearly two years. We honor our Our Lord by loving and honoring His Holy Mother, our Mother, the Theotokos.

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the New Testament, Part 2

Continuing with last week’s theme, Mary in the New Testament, this week we will focus on the Mary in the Redemption of Jesus Christ and her role in the life of the Church. For a recap of last week, I would suggest reading, “Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the New Testament, Part 1.

For this blog post, you will need your Bibles, so make sure you have it next to you.

1. The Wedding Feast of Cana (Read John 2:1-10)

The Wedding Feast of Cana has a dual meaning. First, we clearly see the maternal mediation of the Blessed Mother and her relationship with Jesus Christ. As you know, the wedding that Jesus, Mary, and some of the Apostles attend happens to run out of wine. The Mother of Jesus, Mary, intercedes for the couple giving the grace of Jesus Christ (her role as Mediatrix begins to develop here) through the miracle of turning water into wine. She is the Maternal Mediator at the wedding, and during the Crucifixion of Jesus, she will become the Maternal Mediator for all of humanity.

The second meaning behind this miracle (and grace flows from it) is that it’s the first public miracle of Jesus Christ. When Jesus says, “O Woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come”, he is essentially saying two things. First, using the term “Woman” is not meant to be demeaning. He is simply connecting Mary with the “Woman” in Genesis 3:15, the same “Woman” who would be at his side at Calvary in John 19:25 and the “Woman” who would be crowned and glorified in Heaven as the Queen of Heaven and Earth in Revelation.

Second, the question he asks is in reference to Calvary. Jesus is saying that if he performs this public miracle, his public mission and the path to Calvary begins. Mary’s “Do whatever he tells you” is her response and readiness to walk with Jesus Christ to Calvary. This would begin the redemption of mankind and Christ as the “Suffering Servant” prophesied in Isaiah (Is 52:13-53:12).

2. Mary at the Foot of the Cross (Read John 19:25-27)

The famous words of Jesus while suffering on the Cross-to Mary and John establish for all of humanity the relationship that we would have with Her for all time. At the point when Jesus says, “Woman, behold your son…Behold, your mother”, symbolically through the disciple John, Mary becomes the Spiritual Mother for all humanity. She is the spiritual gift personally given by Jesus Christ himself to every human person – believer or non-believer. The “beloved disciple” from that moment on takes Mary into his home and treats her as his own mother. We too must invite Mary into our “homes” and allow her to be our mother. The devotion the Catholic Church has to the Blessed Virgin Mary developed from the households of Saint John.

For a deeper understanding of Mary’s role in the “Wedding Feast of Cana” and “Mary at the Foot of the Cross”, please read, The Queenship of Mary: Advocate, Co-Redemptrix, and Mediatrix and “Mondays with Mary” – ‘Leads Us to Jesus’ (Pope Benedict’s Homily at Altötting).

Pentecost - Eastern Icon

3. The Presence of Mary in the Upper Room (Read Acts 1:13-2:4)

After Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, we see Mary in the Upper Room waiting with the Apostles for the Coming of the Holy Sprit, Mary’s divine spouse. She is the central figure in the Upper Room as well in the life of the infant Church. As she held the infant Jesus in her arms, close to her heart, and feeding him, she holds the infant Church in the same respect. “Mary, the Mother of Jesus” is the nurturer of the early Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. For a more on Mary in the Life of the Church, please read “Mondays with Mary” – Mary is the Church on Pentecost.

4. Pauline Reference of Galatians 4:4 (Read Galatians 4:4)

In Galatians 4:4, Saint Paul tells us the Savior was “born of a woman.” With this statement, the Apostle to the Gentiles gives testimony to Mary’s Divine Motherhood. God the Father sends his only begotten son to redeem all of humanity through Mary. When he says, “born of woman”, St. Paul is stating that Mary is the “Woman” in the Scriptures who works with and under (“co” – not equal to) the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, to obtain “adoptive” sons and daughters through the “Spirit of the Father.” They all cry out, “Abba, Father.” Abba in the Hebrew language means “Daddy.”

5. The Woman Clothed with the Sun (Read Revelation 12:1)

Here we see the “Woman” clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars. The “Woman” is in battle with the ancient foe, Satan. The “Woman” refers to Mary because Mary only gives her birth to the male child and he will have the scepter of ruling the people. Mary is the Mother of the Church, but uniquely is Mother of Jesus.

First, being “clothed with sun” means that she is veiled in intimacy with the Son. Second, the “moon under her feet” means that the moon reflects the light of the sun without being its source and without the dulling the rays (Saint Bernard). She is not the source of the light, but its reflection. This is the perfect image of our Lady.

Third, she is crowned with 12 stars. She is the Queen Mother of the male-child who will “rule all the nations with a rod of iron” (scepter). The 12 Tribes of Jacob who were ruled by King David are fulfilled in the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ, the new David and fulfillment of the Davidic Kingdom. Fourth, the battle with Satan is the cosmic battle for souls. Mary is God’s greatest creature and Satan is his most despised creature, just like in Genesis 3:15. There is complete enmity!

Although Mary ‘s role seems to be minimal in the writings of the New Testament, she plays a major role in the salvation and redemption of humanity as Maternal Mediator, Advocate, Co-Redemptrix, and Mediatrix of All Graces. The Blessed Virgin, the spouse of the Holy Spirit is fundamental to our understanding of Jesus Christ. She is our Mother! We must behold her each day in our homes and most especially, in our hearts.

The Queenship of Mary: Advocate, Co-Redemptrix, and Mediatrix

The Second Vatican Council in the document, Lumen Gentiumthe Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, declares in Chapter VIII,

“Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and cultics, until they are led into the happiness of their true home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator” (#62).

Today, one week after the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we celebrate the memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was established by Blessed Pope Pius XII in 1954. The Blessed Virgin in heavenly glory, body and soul, participates in her special role in the universal Kingdom of God. Our Queen Mother is not the source of grace, but is a channel where graces flow; therefore she is seen as the Mediatrix of All Graces.

When Jesus gives Our Lady to John on Calvary at the foot of the Cross, Mary becomes from that point forward the spiritual mother of all humanity (Jn 19:26-27). John, the “beloved disciple”, takes Mary into his own home and cares for her as if she is his own mother. If Jesus had brothers and sisters, as modern biblical scholarship claims, then they would have taken care of Mary after Jesus’ death on the cross. However, that does not happen because Our Lord did not have biological brothers and sisters.

Mary and John at the Foot of the Cross - Behold your Mother

Our Lady as our spiritual mother is not a new theological concept, but derives from the Early Church Fathers. Mary as our spiritual mother coincides with her role as the New Eve. As our spiritual mother, Our Lady also participates in the role of maternal mediation (a term coined by Blessed John Paul II). Through her roles as spiritual mother and maternal mediator, Our Lady is Advocating Queen, Co-Redemptrix, and Mediatrix of All Graces.

First, Queenship is defined as the mother of the King, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the King of the Mystical Body of Christ that dwells within the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God consists of the saints on Earth, in Purgatory, and in Heaven. Mary is the Queen of the Kingdom of God. Just as Bathsheba advocated for Adonijah and the people of Israel to her son, King Solomon (1 Kings 2:19-21), so does Mary advocate for us to bring our petitions to her Son, Jesus Christ. The Blessed Mother is our Gebirah (Great Lady) and Advocating Queen.

For more on Mary as Queen Mother see the blog posts  – The Visitation of the Blessed Mother and The Magnificat. We also see Mary’s Queenship portrayed in Revelation 12:1. Our Lady has the moon under her feet and she is wearing a crown with twelve stars. Her son happens to be the King who will rule all nations and she will take her thrown next to him (cf. Rev 12:5).

Second, the question usually asked is – how does the Mother of God mediate? Now that she resides in Heaven through her Assumption, the Blessed Mother mediates in her unique role with Jesus in Redemption as Co-Redemptrix. The term “co” is not to be equal with God. In 1 Corinthians 3:9, St. Paul says that we are co-workers with God. With God, we assist as co-workers, but are never equal to God. We are always subordinate to Him. The same happens to be true for Mary. She is always subordinate to God, but works as Co-Redemptrix with Jesus in the Redemption of humanity.

This is not an honorary title, but a function of the Church. Simeon’s Prophecy in Luke 2:35 speaks of Mary’s soul being pierced with a sword. This piercing leads her to Calvary with Jesus. As Christ suffers; so does his Mother suffer.

Lastly, her role as one who dispenses graces, Mediatrix, flows from her role as Co-redemptrix. She is able to dispense grace because she actively participates in receiving the graces of Redemption with and under Jesus, but is not the source of grace.

Our Lady, Mary Mediatrix of All Graces

Through her Immaculate Conception, she acquires the grace of Redemption by Jesus Christ and is able to dispense grace to all of humanity through her role as our spiritual mother. She feeds the faithful the spiritual gifts through Christ’s body in the order of grace. Her function as spiritual mother is fundamental in her ability to distribute the graces of Redemption.

There are a few scriptural references that refer to Mary acting as Mediatrix, however, the one I want to focus on is John 2:1-10, The Wedding Feast at Cana.

Icon of The Wedding Feast of Cana

Icon of The Wedding Feast of Cana

Mary is Mediatrix of All Graces here because she directs and gives a specific mediation to the situation at hand, “they have no wine.” She is willing and interceding for the grace of Jesus Christ at Cana. The last recorded words of Mary in the Gospels, “do whatever he tells you”, gives us the ultimate end of Mary. As the Mother of Jesus, she will intercede for all nations and people in order to bring them closer to her Son, who might then dispense the miraculous graces needed for salvation.

Even though this doctrine as not been declared dogmatic, many theologians, Popes, and the Second Vatican Council have taught extensively on it. In recent years, Blessed John Paul II referred to Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces on eight different occasions and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has stated that she is Mediatrix of All Graces, which includes the Seven Sacraments of the Church.

“Mondays with Mary” – ‘Leads Us To Jesus’ (Pope Benedict XVI Homily at Altötting)

It is often been said to me that our current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, does not have the same affection and love for the Blessed Mother, as did Blessed John Paul II. However, nothing could be further than the truth. His holiness has a great devotion and love for the Blessed Virgin Mary. I would encourage you to pick up the book, Maria – Pope Benedict XVI on the Mother of God, if you don’t believe me. It is the perfect coffee table book for any good and faithful Catholic or Orthodox who loves the Blessed Mother. The book is a series of homilies, speeches, and other statements about Mary, the Mother of God by Pope Benedict XVI. It’s a fantastic read with many great photos of the Holy Father at pilgrimage sites related to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Pope Benedict XVI at Altotting

Today’s “Mondays with Mary” is the first chapter of the aforementioned text. It fits perfectly today since yesterday the Gospel Reading (Latin Rite) was the Wedding Feast at Cana. Knowing that many of you probably don’t have this book, I present to you the stirring and passionate words of Pope Benedict XVI from his Homily at Altötting, Germany on September 11, 2006 speaking about the Wedding Feast at Cana and dialogue between Mary and Jesus.

This is so good! Read the entire homily. You will not be disappointed.

“In the Gospel passage [recounting the wedding at Cana], Mary makes a request of her Son on behalf of some friends in need. At first sight, this could appear to be an entirely human conversation between a Mother and her Son and it is indeed a dialogue rich in humanity. Yet Mary does not speak to Jesus as if he were a mere man on whose ability and helpfulness she can count. She entrusts a human need to his power – to a power which is more than skill and human ability. In this dialogue with Jesus, we actually see her as a Mother who asks, one who intercedes. As we listen to this Gospel passage, it is worth going a little deeper, not only to understand Jesus and Mary better, but also to learn from Mary the right way to pray. Mary does not really ask something of Jesus: she simply says to him: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3). Weddings in the Holy Land were celebrated for a whole week; the entire town took part, and consequently much wine was consumed. Now the bride and groom find themselves in trouble, and Mary simply says this to Jesus. She doesn’t ask for anything specific, much less that Jesus exercise his power, perform a miracle, produce wine. She simply hands the matter over to Jesus and leaves it to him to decide about what to do. In the simple words of the Mother of Jesus, then, we can see two things: on the one hand her affectionate concern for people, that maternal affection which makes her aware of the problems of others. We see her heartfelt goodness and her willingness to help. This is the Mother that generations of people have come here to Altötting to visit. To her we entrust our cares, our needs and our troubles. Her maternal readiness to help, in which we trust, appears here for the first time in the Holy Scriptures. But in addition to this first aspect, with which we are all familiar, there is another, which we could easily overlook: Mary leaves everything to the Lord’s judgment. At Nazareth she gave over her will, immersing it in the will of God: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). And this continues to be her fundamental attitude. This is how she teaches us to pray: not by seeking to assert before God our own will and our own desires, however important they may be, however reasonable they might appear to us, but rather to bring them before him and to let him decide what he intends to do. From Mary we learn graciousness and readiness to help, but we also learn humility and generosity in accepting God’s will, in the confident conviction that, whatever it may be, it will be our, and my own, true good.

We can understand, I think, very well the attitude and words of Mary, yet we still find it very hard to understand Jesus’ answer. In the first place, we don’t like the way he addresses her: “Woman”. Why doesn’t he say: “Mother”? But this title really expresses Mary’s place in salvation history. It points to the future, to the hour of the crucifixion, when Jesus will say to her: “Woman, behold your son – Son, behold your mother” (cf. Jn 19:26-27). It anticipates the hour when he will make the woman, his Mother, the Mother of all his disciples. On the other hand, the title “Woman” recalls the account of the creation of Eve: Adam, surrounded by creation in all its magnificence, experiences loneliness as a human being. Then Eve is created, and in her Adam finds the companion whom he longed for; and he gives her the name “woman”. In the Gospel of John, then, Mary represents the new, the definitive woman, the companion of the Redeemer, our Mother: the name, which seemed so lacking in affection, actually expresses the grandeur of Mary’s enduring mission.

Yet we like even less what Jesus at Cana then says to Mary: “Woman, what have I to do with you? My hour has not yet come” (Jn 2:4). We want to object: you have a lot to do with her! It was Mary who gave you flesh and blood, who gave you your body, and not only your body: with the “yes” which rose from the depths of her heart she bore you in her womb and with a mother’s love she gave you life and introduced you to the community of the people of Israel. But if this is how we speak to Jesus, then we are already well along the way towards understanding his answer. Because all this should remind us that at the incarnation of Jesus two dialogues took place; the two go together and blend into one. First, there is Mary’s dialogue with the Archangel Gabriel, where she says: “Let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). But there is a text parallel to this, so to speak, within God himself, which we read about in the Letter to the Hebrews, when it says that the words of Psalm 40 became a kind of dialogue between the Father and the Son – a dialogue which set in motion the Incarnation. The Eternal Son says to the Father: “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me … See, I have come to do your will” (Heb 10:5-7; cf. Ps 40:6-8). The “yes” of the Son: “I have come to do your will”, and the “yes” of Mary: “Let it be with me according to your word” – this double “yes”  – becomes a single “yes”, and thus the Word becomes flesh in Mary. In this double “yes” the obedience of the Son is embodied, and by her own “yes” Mary gives him that body. “Woman, what have I to do with you?” Ultimately, what each has to do with the other is found in this double “yes” which resulted in the Incarnation. The Lord’s answer points to this point of profound unity. It is precisely to this that he points his Mother. Here, in their common “yes” to the will of the Father, an answer is found. We too need to learn always anew how to progress towards this point; there we will find the answer to our questions.

If we take this as our starting-point, we can now also understand the second part of Jesus’ answer: “My hour has not yet come”. Jesus never acts completely alone, and never for the sake of pleasing others. The Father is always the starting-point of his actions, and this is what unites him to Mary, because she wished to make her request in this same unity of will with the Father. And so, surprisingly, after hearing Jesus’ answer, which apparently refuses her request, she can simply say to the servants: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). Jesus is not a wonder-worker, he does not play games with his power in what is, after all, a private affair. No, he gives a sign, in which he proclaims his hour, the hour of the wedding-feast, the hour of union between God and man. He does not merely “make” wine, but transforms the human wedding-feast into an image of the divine wedding-feast, to which the Father invites us through the Son and in which he gives us every good thing, represented by the abundance of wine. The wedding-feast becomes an image of that moment when Jesus pushed love to the utmost, let his body be rent and thus gave himself to us for ever, having become completely one with us – a marriage between God and man. The hour of the Cross, the hour which is the source of the Sacrament, in which he gives himself really to us in flesh and blood, puts his Body into our hands and our hearts, this is the hour of the wedding feast. Thus a momentary need is resolved in a truly divine manner and the initial request is superabundantly granted. Jesus’ hour has not yet arrived, but in the sign of the water changed into wine, in the sign of the festive gift, he even now anticipates that hour.

Jesus’ “hour” is the Cross; his definitive hour will be his return at the end of time. He continually anticipates also this definitive hour in the Eucharist, in which, even now, he always comes to us. And he does this ever anew through the intercession of his Mother, through the intercession of the Church, which cries out to him in the Eucharistic prayers: “Come, Lord Jesus!”. In the Canon of the Mass, the Church constantly prays for this “hour” to be anticipated, asking that he may come even now and be given to us. And so we want to let ourselves be guided by Mary, by the Mother of Graces of Altötting, by the Mother of all the faithful, towards the “hour” of Jesus. Let us ask him for the gift of a deeper knowledge and understanding of him. And may our reception of him not be reduced to the moment of communion alone. Jesus remains present in the sacred Host and he awaits us constantly. Here in Altötting, the adoration of the Lord in the Eucharist has found a new location in the old treasury. Mary and Jesus go together. Through Mary we want to continue our converse with the Lord and to learn how to receive him better. Holy Mother of God, pray for us, just as at Cana you prayed for the bride and the bridegroom! Guide us towards Jesus – ever anew! Amen!”