On this happy day, our Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast of the Wedding of Cana. It was the occasion of the first miracle that our Lord Jesus Christ performed. We sometimes think that being a serious Christian must be a miserable thing, but we see that our Lord Jesus, our God and our Saviour, shared in the happy times of human life, and was found at this Wedding celebration with his mother and his disciples.
Being a Christian is often filled with difficult experiences and choices, but we should not think that God is not interested in the ordinary details of our life. Jesus Christ once said that God knows about even the smallest little bird, and knows exactly how many hairs there are on our head. He is concerned and involved in every aspect of our life when we live it with him.
And so our Lord Jesus Christ, with his disciples and his mother, the Virgin Mary, attended this wedding celebration showing us that God both sanctifies marriage, and is present in our own marriages and families, and also that he sanctifies the celebrations of human life, and rejoices when we rejoice in Godly and happy occasions such as these.
This morning I would like us to consider the words and actions of the Virgin Mary. She is the example for us all of what it means to be a Christian, since she is the human being who has been most closely united with God, which is what the Christian life really means. She has a unique relationship with God, even while she is entirely a human being like us. But she is the only person in all of the creation who can call God both her Lord and her Son. And she is the only person in all of the creation who God the Word can truly call mother. This does not mean that the Virgin Mary is the beginning of God. God has existed outside of time and space in eternity and has no beginning at all. But the Virgin Mary is truly the mother of God the Word who became man, who became a tiny baby within her. She is the mother of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ is truly God made man, so we understand that she is the mother of this Jesus who is God, and is therefore mother of God.
The wedding had taken place, and now the people of Cana were celebrating together. But there were so many people gathered there that after a while they started to run out of wine. This would have been a great problem and embarrassment for the family who were celebrating the wedding. They had invited all their friends and neighbours, and now they were running out of wine to give them.
If we consider the Virgin Mary, we see first of all that she had noticed that there was a problem. She heard the whispered concerns of the servants and the host of the wedding. And the things she heard she took to her son, our Lord Jesus, and she said first of all – They have no wine. But this was not the time or the place where Jesus had planned to begin his ministry and his teaching about the Kingdom of God, and so he replies to her – Woman, what has this got to do with me? My time has not yet come.
This seems a little bit rude and dismissive. But the word woman has the sense of my Lady, just as we might call a man, Sir, if we want to be polite. And we can see that our Lord Jesus is not showing off. On the contrary, even though he has all the power in the world, because he is God, he still stays in the background. He does not want to push himself forward. He does not say – Out of the way, let me take care of this. Quite the opposite, he says, I am not ready to show myself yet.
We can apply this to our own lives. There are times when it seems we are running out of wine. I mean that we find we are running out of strength to carry on, running out of commitment to the Christian life, running out of an understanding of what we should be doing with our life, running out of love for others, hope and faith for our own future. We should not doubt that God knows our situation, but he listens to his mother’s voice.
We ask the Virgin Mary to pray with us and for us, because she does have a unique relationship with the Word of God, Jesus Christ, her Lord and her son. In my own prayers, I do not cease to bring my own needs and those of the people to God, but I also ask the Virgin Mary to pray for me and for all these people as well. I believe that as she was the mother of God the Word, the Lord Jesus, on earth, she will always be and remains forever, the mother of God the Word, even while the Lord Jesus is seated in glory in Heaven.
It seems that Jesus was not going to do anything at the Wedding celebration. But what does the Virgin Mary do and say next? She says to the servants… Whatever he says to you, do it! Even though Jesus Christ did not plan to do any miracles yet, even though it was not the time for him to begin his ministry, yet his mother, the Virgin Mary, was sure that because she had asked, he would act.
And so, she tells the servants to be ready, and to be obedient to whatever Jesus asked them to do. The Virgin Mary teaches us this same lesson. When we ask her to pray with us and for us, to join her prayers to ours, then we must be prepared for God to act. And if he will act then we must be obedient. If we pray, and ask the Virgin Mary to pray with us, that we might overcome some sinful habit, are we willing to be obedient and do whatever Jesus Christ asks of us? If we pray for the needs of some friend or family member, and we ask the Virgin Mary to pray with us, are we willing to do whatever Jesus Christ asks of us to meet the needs of those we are praying for? If we are praying for guidance, are we willing to be obedient when Jesus Christ gives us direction, in answer to our prayers and those of the Virgin Mary?
The obedience that was asked of the servants was very practical. He just said – Fill the water-pots with water. The servants could have made all manner of excuses and given all manner of reasons why this would not help. Master, they could have said, you have not understood, we already have plenty of water, it is the wine that is running out. But if they had not been obedient then they would not have seen the miracle.
It is like this in our lives. If there is some need in your life, then pray, and pray without ceasing about it. But ask the Virgin Mary to pray with you and for you. God hears our prayers, but he is also moved by the prayers of his Mother. But be prepared to be obedient. Do not expect the answer to your prayers to come in the way you imagine. Rather, listen out for what God asks of you, and do it, and then, in God’s time, you will see the miracle.
This is why we must ask two things in our prayers. We must pray – Lord, I have this need, help me in it. But we must also pray, Lord, show me how I must be obedient and give me the strength to obey. Often, we are already aware of what God is asking of us, in our spiritual life, in our relationships with others, in our service in the Church and in our families and workplaces and schools and universities. We will not truly see our prayers answered until we seek to fulfil those things that God already asks of us.
The Virgin Mary was confident that the Lord Jesus Christ would hear her, and answer her request. But it required obedience. May we be confident in bringing our own needs to God, and those of the people known to us and loved by us. May we ask the Virgin Mary to join her prayers to ours. But may we also be obedient, so that in doing the will of God as he asks of us, we might see his miracle in our life.
To the glory of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.