January 7

John 2:1-11

Two men, in a boat, were caught in a sudden squall. While the one earnestly prayed for deliverance, the other frantically rowed to reach safety. Soon the latter touched bottom with one of the oars. With a sigh of relief he turned to his comrade and said, “You can quit praying now. We’re almost to land.” Is that so?

Unlike Mary, when the angel announced to her that she would bear a son by the Holy Spirit, she prayed: “May it be done to me,” (Luke 1:38). When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth and was told that the child in Elizabeth’s womb jump for joy at her approach, she prayed: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,” (Luke 1:46). When the shepherds told Mary and Joseph what the angel said about Jesus Birth, Mary prayed and, “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart,” (Luke 2:19). In today’s gospel, when the couple runs out of wine, Mary’s response is to pray. She petitions her Son, Jesus to help the couple: “They have no wine,” (John 2:3).

Actually, today’s gospel, when Jesus transforms water into wine at the Wedding at Cana, speaks to us about the importance of prayer, especially the prayer of petitions, in the life of the Christian community. It is because, as Carlo Carretto said: “The degree of our faith is the degree of our prayer. The strength of our hope is the strength of our prayer. The warmth of our charity is the warmth of our prayer.” St Bonaventure added also that: “We can do nothing unless divine aid supports us. This divine aid is at hand for all who seek it with truly humble and devout heart. To seek thus is to sigh for divine aid in fervent prayer. Prayer then is the mother and origin of every upward striving of the soul.”

And Jesus, even if he hesitates to fulfil His mother’s request, grants her request. Some people are shocked to hear Jesus call His mother, “Woman.” If we can still remember, Jesus uses the same title, again, on the cross when He gives Mary to John’s care. The word ‘woman’ for us Filipinos, sounds impersonal, rude, disrespectful and terribly discourteous. But for ancient people, this word ‘woman’ had different meaning. William Barclay commenting on this passage says: In Homer it is the title by which Odyssius address Penelope, his well-loved wife.  It is the title by which Augustus, the Roman Emperor, addressed Cleopatra, the famous Egyptian Queen.” And perhaps the best way to think of the title is to think of it the way the British do when they address a woman of nobility as Lady. And it may be recalled, in the Old Testament, God also refers to Eve as the “Woman.” In biblical parallelism, Mary as the Mother of Jesus plays a central role in the history of salvation. She is the new Eve.

Fr. Raymun Festin, SVD (Bible Diary 2006) commented that Jesus’ calling of Mary as “Woman” is not an utterance of rebuke because she reported to Him that the wine had run out – as if Jesus wanted to tell her that it’s none of His business to know. It is, in fact, a show of deep reverence and high esteem. It is like addressing her as Ginang or “Lady” or “Senora” or “Frau.” Of course, Mary is not the only one whom Jesus addressed as “Woman.” The woman caught in adultery is one; the woman at Jacob’s well is another. Indeed, Jesus is the perfect gentleman, the veritable respecter of women.

Prayers of petition acknowledge our dependence on God, who is our beginning and our end. This form of prayer springs from our heart’s desire to serve God’s kingdom here and to seek the realization of the kingdom to come. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that asking forgiveness, coupled with trusting humility, should be the first movement of a prayer of petition.

A prayer of petition (loyolapress.com/raising-our-hearts-and-minds-to-god-blessings.htm) is a request to God that asks him to fulfill a need. When we share in God’s saving love, we understand that through petition we can ask for God’s help with every need no matter how great or small.

See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

OPTION  01,   02,   03,

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