Monday, 13 June 2016 Monthly Clergy Assembly
"FROM CANA TO CALVARY"
"Three days later there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus was also invited to the wedding with his disciples. When all the wine provided for the celebration had been served and they had run out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to him, 'They have no wine.' Jesus replied, 'Woman, your thoughts are not mine! My hour has not yet come.'
"However his mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever he tells you.'
"Nearby were six stone water jars meant for the ritual washing as practiced by the Jews; each jar could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, 'Fill the jars with water.' And they filled them to the brim. Then Jesus said, 'Now draw some out and take it to the steward.' So they did.
"The steward tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing from where it had come; for only the servants who had drawn the water knew. So, he called the bridegroom to tell him, 'Everyone serves the best wine first and when people have drunk enough, he serves that which is ordinary. Instead you have kept the best wine until the end." (John 2, 1-10)
The Blessed Virgin Mary clearly showed her maternal instinct. She manifested the assurance of a mother's loving protection and care in times of trouble. The Blessed Mother did not want the wedding couple to be embarrassed or humiliated. Without being asked, she offered to help. She volunteered her Son, Jesus.
The Blessed Virgin Mary was so concerned over the welfare of the wedding couple. Trusting completely in her Son, Mother Mary called on Him. She who truly understood Jesus, had total faith in Him. The special relationship between Jesus and His Mother was made visibly clear by this one incident. The special bond between the Mother and the Son clearly stood out. Who would refuse a mother's request springing from great love?
If we take the Blessed Virgin Mary as our Mother too, surely her Son Jesus would not ignore us. If we place ourselves under the guidance of Mother Mary, surely her Son Jesus will not forsake us in times of need. If we solicit her intercession, how could her Son Jesus ever fail to listen? If we remain faithful to His Mother, He will never separate Himself from us.
"Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister Mary, who was the wife of Cleophas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw the Mother and the disciple, he said to the Mother, 'Woman, this is your son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'There is your mother.' And from that moment the disciple took her to his own home." (John 19, 25-27)
Mother Mary suffered with Jesus. She experienced in her soul what Jesus suffered in His body. Yet with faith, Mother Mary accepted the passion and death of Jesus. There was no bitterness in her. There was no hatred in her heart. There were no thoughts of revenge in her mind. She was even compassionate and forgiving toward those who caused the suffering of her Son and brought Him to His cruel death.
It was obedience to God's will that led Jesus to the cross. And it was submission to God's will that made Mother Mary stand at the foot of the cross (cfr. John, 19, 25). And at the foot of the cross, Jesus presented the Blessed Virgin Mary as Model and Mother of all. Likewise Jesus entrusted the Blessed Virgin Mary to our care and affection, as represented by His beloved disciple John. Thus, as we call on our Blessed Mother, we must not run away from or make excuses to avoid carrying our own cross. We should not separate ourselves from His suffering. For one thing is sure: Jesus suffered for us and the Blessed Mother suffers with us the same way in which she suffered with her Son.
If Jesus gave His Mother to us, why refuse His offering? If Jesus entrusted the care of His Mother to us, why disobey Him? If Jesus treated His Mother with love and respect, who are we to doubt the honor and reverence due her? If Jesus obeyed His Mother, who are to ignore her?
"We have our own 'Cana to Calvary' moments."
Our CANA is a stage in life where we reach our own goals, experience peak moments, make notable accomplishments. It could come in the form of a promotion or an award; a graduation or a doctoral degree; a wedding, a religious profession or an ordination. In these moments, amidst all the laughter and praise, we might set aside something important. Amidst good food and even better company, we might overlook someone. No matter how well and how thoroughly we may have prepared for this event to assure its perfection, something could go wrong. Our Cana then becomes a moment when, amidst great joy and celebration, we are suddenly confronted with a terrible helplessness. It is when we think our situation is hopeless and unsalvageable that we find ourselves like the wedding couple in Cana faced with the dilemma of running out of wine for the many guests and with the horror of great embarrassment. But not everything is lost. A Cana experience makes us realize that there is someone who is wishing us the best, someone who is interceding for us. Someone like the Blessed Virgin Mary who will take us to Jesus and with trust and maternal concern, will inform Jesus that, "They have no more wine." (John 2, 3)
Now as each of us is attending or preparing for a Cana event, let us always invite Jesus. Let us always turn to Jesus. Let us make sure He is with us. For with Jesus, there is always the assurance of abundance. Jesus will always supply us with what is best and with what is most necessary. Jesus will strengthen us. He has many surprises in store for us.
In our priestly life, there will always be countless demands and high expectations. There will be endless work and unbearable tensions. But with Jesus, we can be certain that our efforts will bear abundant fruits. With Jesus, there is always the assurance of safety, stability and success. With Jesus present in our Cana event, we will not fail, we cannot lose. With Jesus sanctifying our Cana event, anyone can say to us, "You have kept the best until the end. "(cfr. John 2, 10)
Our CALVARY, on the other hand, is a moment in life when we experience pain and suffering; rejection and disappointment; ingratitude and hostility. But through this personal Calvary, we are inspired to turn to God alone. Our Calvary event leads us to depend more on God, to place all our hope in Him and eventually to rise up with Him in glory.
To follow Jesus is to go with Him all the way to Calvary. This is our complete surrender to God. In Calvary, Jesus showed His great love for us. To face our own Calvary, we manifest our availability to God and our sincere love for Him. The beautiful thing about all this is that we are not alone. As the Blessed Virgin Mary stood at the foot of the cross of Jesus (John 19, 25), so is she always with us in our own Calvary event. Amidst rejection and ridicule, discouragement and depression, misunderstanding and persecution, she stands by us as our hope and our help, imploring her Son Jesus to come to our aid.
The Blessed Virgin Mary standing at the foot of the cross tells us two things. First, She is our model of faith, of trust and of perseverance. We could be in a difficult assignment or we may not like where we are now. We might not have 'promising superiors' or trustworthy companions. We may not have what we are praying for. But we must not give up. We must look up to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Learn from her. Draw inspiration from her. Say with her the word, 'fiat'.
Second, She is truly our Mother. She will not leave us. She will always be with us and she wants us to be with her. People may leave us. They may criticize us or spread negative remarks against us. They may betray us or abuse our trust. Rewards and recognition may be hard to come by. We may feel alone and sometimes lost. Look up to the Blessed Mother. Listen to her. The Blessed Mother will always accept us. She will surely gather us to her heart and bring us to her Son Jesus. Jesus, who entrusted mankind to her affection, "Woman, here is your Son." (John 19, 27)
Ruperto Cruz Santos, DD
Bishop of Balanga and CBCP Permanent Council member