Thursday, July 7, 2011

If I Really Want God's Help

The "Wedding at Cana" has always been a challenging story for me. I mean I get the miracle...obviously. And the foreshadowing seen in the water being turned into wine. But what I have always struggled to really "get" is the interaction between Mary and Jesus.

Here they are at a wedding...and presumably it was a relative of theirs since Mary seems to be involved in (or at least aware of) the behind-the-scenes details...and they run out of wine. Mary turns to Jesus and tells Him that they are out of wine. And no matter how many times I look at it, I always read Jesus' first response as sort of flip and indignant...something along the lines of "so how is this my problem?" But obviously that isn't what Jesus means. Still it's curious that He doesn't immediately show concern...or even an inclination to help. But of course in the end He does...and we have Jesus first public miracle.

So I started thinking through this today (while working my way through the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary), and I think God pulled the veil back a little bit on this for me. I think maybe that what we have here is a lesson (once again taught to us my Mary) in seeking God's help in our lives.

First, I think maybe the initial exchange between Jesus and His Mother reveals God's desire that we open our hearts to Him and share our true desires and wants (and fears) with Him. You see....initially...Mary doesn't ask anything of Jesus. She simply states a fact, "they have no wine." And because Mary hasn't asked anything of Him....because she hasn't really shared her desire with Him....her "ask"...Jesus pushes back a bit and wonders aloud what this has to do with Him. In essence He is inviting Mary to be more explicit...to think about what she is really saying...and to share her heart's desire with Him. And I think He wants the same from us. Certainly He hears (and answers) our prayers of "Help me, God" or "I Need You" or whatever. But I think His ultimate desire is that we develop the awareness within our self to understand our real desires and motivations...and then the courage to voice them to Him...Our Creator. It's not as if He doesn't already know them. But He wants us to share them nonetheless. He wants to hear them from us...offered freely...by choice. After all, this is what real relationship is right? Sharing yourself with another person...being open...being vulnerable. That's what God desires for each of us...to be in a real relationship with Him. And so to do that, we have to share our hearts.

The second part of this wedding lesson for me is that if we really want His help...not only do we have to ask for it explicitly (and again with full disclosure of our motivation(s))...but we also have to do what He tells us. It seems more and more as I learn and spend time with our Mother, I realize what an incredible teacher she is...what an incredible gift her life is to us. I always hear how Mary points us to Jesus. And while there was a time I thought that was just Catholics trying to make the whole "Mary thing" more digestible to non-Catholics, I'm realizing more and more that it is simply the truth. Mary does point us to Jesus...time and time again.

So here we are, at the Wedding in Cana, and we find Mary telling the servants...and us (since we are servants after all)...that whatever He says to you...do it! You see...again we find that Jesus wants to involve us in His life...in His miracles...in His gifts. I'm sure that Jesus could have simply made the waterpots full of wine. He didn't need anyone to make this miracle happen. But yet He sought the cooperation of others...of us. And just like He had done with Mary. Certainly He could have been born without her consent. The Creator of the universe doesn't need our permission for anything. And for that matter He could have simply redeemed the world without our involvement at all. But yet He didn't. He chose to bless us...not simply by saving us all to begin with...but also allowing us to experience the joy...the immeasurable blessing of participating in our salvation. And just like the first time....here at the Wedding we see Mary once again demonstrating how we are to submit to Him...to His will. "Whatever He tells you, do it." How very reminiscent of her first response, "May it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38).

And so the second piece of receiving God's help is obedience....submission...letting go. We often hear people talking about "giving it to God" with the "it" being whatever your need or worry or fear is. And that certainly gets at the submission aspect. We have to truly stop trying to fix things ourselves (and ideally be like Mary and recognize from the get-go that there is no point in even starting to do it our self) and being willing to allow God to fix things. But the other aspect of that is the need for us to obey Him. If I am going to ask for God's help for a way out of something....or for a solution to some situation...than I need to be willing to do it His way...and that means doing whatever He asks. Whether that means filling up waterpots...or apologizing to someone I hurt...or cutting up my credit card...or taking responsibility for my sin...or admitting my sin out loud to my spouse...I actually have to do it. I have to cooperate with God...I have to work with Him...according to His will.

Now I am not pretending this is easy. God knows (literally) how stubbornly I work to try and fix things or make things turn out a certain way. But if I am honest, I have to admit that the best things that have happened in my life (including the best resolutions to unpleasant things) have happened either without or despite my own efforts. How truly thankful I am that sometimes God graciously works in my life despite myself. He sees my heart...and so often acts based on that...instead of the silly stuff my flesh says or does.

Yes...Mary shows us once again (this time at a wedding)...that if we really want to receive God's help...if we really want to experience His work in our lives...we first have to ask Him...and then we have to obey.

[Postlude: This may seem small and insignificant to those reading this...but I had to share it. Just a few days ago I downloaded a Bible app to my blackberry that includes the feature of having the Bible read out-loud to you. I checked this out briefly when I downloaded it and started with John 1:1....for no particular reason than thinking it would be cool to hear, "...and the Word was made flesh." But after a few seconds I closed the app and went about my day. Now here I am writing this blog entry (many days alter)...and I tell you truly...I start to hear someone talking...and I realize that it is the guy from my Bible app reading the Bible AND....here is the real knock-me-to-the-ground-shut-the-front-door thing...he is reading...are you ready...the Wedding at Cana. I mean come on! The blackberry was in my belt holster (not my pocket where you could argue I pocket-dialed the app)...where it is suppose to "sleep" once it is put in there. Aside from that...it wasn't like I left off at the end of John 1 or anything...i was only a few verses in....but somehow it skipped all the way to John 2. I'm still trying to drink it in. But wow...talk about a God moment. Talk about being in His presence. Amen, Father...and Thank You!]

1 comment:

PRForgette said...

Wow, twice in one week you have come up with things for me to reflect on. Your insight to the Wedding at Cana is very good. I never looked at it that way. Thank you.

Your postlude made me laugh. Just when we think that we are discovering something new, on our own, God steps in. He is reminding us that we are not alone and that He has a plan for us. Thank you for sharing this.

Your brother in Christ.
Paul