What is blindness? How is it healed?” Do you want to know? On your computer or smartphone enter the questions into a search engine and you will receive answers. If some answers are not good enough search other engines, and keep asking till you find all the information you want.
Similarly, if you want to know about other topics, do the same: ask receive, search find.
In the Bible, Jesus says: “Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; everyone who searches finds; everyone who knocks will have the door opened.” (Lk 11:9-10, NJB)
Here are some examples of those who asked Jesus and received.
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar on the road asked him for mercy – the healing of his blindness. The people scolded him and told him to keep quiet. But he persisted by shouting even louder. Jesus stopped, called him over and, on hearing his request, said to him: “Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you.” (Lk 18:42, NJB) At once his sight returned. He followed Jesus, glorifying God. And all the people gave praise to God.
In the region of Tyre and Sidon, a Canaanite woman came to Jesus asking for mercy and deliverance of her daughter from demonic possession. Jesus did not say a word. His disciples went and pleaded with him, but he said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” The woman came up to him a second time, knelt low before him and asked again for his help. He replied, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to little dogs.” She humbly replied, “Ah yes, Lord; but even little dogs eat the scraps that fall from the master’s table.” Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith. Let your desire be granted.” Straightaway her daughter received the requested exorcism. (See Mt 15:22–28, NJB)
One day Jesus was teaching inside a jam-packed house. Some men brought a paralytic on a stretcher seeking to ask Jesus for a healing and receiving a miracle; but they could not even get close. They persevered by climbing onto the roof, removed some tiles, and lowered the sick man into the room. When Jesus saw their determination and their great faith, he said to the sick man, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Then, “I tell you, rise, take your mat and go home.” He got on his feet immediately, picked up the mat on which he had been lying, and went home healed, glorifying God. All the people were amazed; filled with awe, they gave glory to God. (See Lk 5:17–26, NIV)
At Cana in Galilee, a royal official whose son was severely ill in Capernaum heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea. He made the trip to meet Jesus, and humbly asked him to come and heal his son who was near death. Jesus complained, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” Unperturbed, the official continued to beg, “Sir, come down before my son dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said. During the day-long return journey to his house, his servants came to meet him on the way with the exciting news: the son’s fever had subsided, and he had received his health back. Upon enquiring when this took place, the official discovered that it happened at the exact hour when Jesus said: “Your son will live.” He and his entire household came to believe. (See Jn 4:46–53, RSV)
Before Jesus died on the cross, a thief who had been crucified next to him, ignoring the impertinent criminal crucified on the other side of Jesus, asked of the Lord, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Right that minute he received the assurance: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (See Lk 23:42, 43, RSV)
What is the difference between (A) and (B)?
The internet answers questions by giving lots of information, independence and self-satisfaction. Jesus answers requests for favours by giving lots of love and mercy, miracles, healing, faith, forgiveness, eternal salvation, life, and joy.
We started out asking: “What is blindness? How is it healed?” Check the internet; but note that blindness does not refer to the eye only, but to the heart and the soul as well. In your daily life, examine where you place the balance between (A) and (B). Whatever you need, whomever you ask, give proportionate time to the Lord.
Never forget that Jesus alone can make this promise: “In all truth I tell you, anything you ask from the Father he will grant in my name… Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete.” (Jn 16:23, 24, NJB)
(1). Jesus tells his followers: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Mt 6:19–21, NAB)
In the Gospel according to John, we see a boy who put his heart in the right place. He gave to Jesus his treasure of the day – the uneaten lunch that his mom packed for him as he left the house in the morning – and was shown the amazing effect instantly. Imagine the surprise in his wide-opened eyes, and the smile of astonishment across his little face when Jesus multiplied the contents of his lunch-bag big time! How exceedingly delighted he must have been that evening and throughout the rest of his existence on earth and in heaven. How happy he was for being of help to so many who needed his generosity. How joyful he is now as he prays for us to follow his example.
Here is the account. “‘There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?’ Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.” (Jn 6:9–11, RSV)
In Jesus’ hands, a few fish burgers given to him by a courageous kid could be used to satisfy the hunger of thousands. How many souls will be affected for all eternity if we fearlessly offer up some of our possessions, talents, energy and time in doing good, and presenting the merits to Jesus for him to multiply and distribute!
(2). “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail.” (Lk 12:32–33, NIV)
This passage contains Jesus’ exhortation and encouragement to generosity and sacrifice, intending to spur us on to works of charity. When we do as he says, we will gain unfailing treasure in heaven.
It goes without saying that in the same action, we also obtain spiritual graces for our families, relatives, friends, and loved ones.
Incidentally, the wonderful passage provides the rationale behind which we appeal to saints for help – saints who may have lived a long, long time ago. They have accumulated stockpiles of treasures in Heaven that never wear out, and the Lord shares his glory with them by giving from their store of holy rewards.
(3). When we ask Jesus for things, we should keep in mind that his treasures are, likewise, inexhaustible. They can never be depleted. Whatever he gives us now does not diminish the amount of future gifts that he will give to us or to others. We can request a hundred things, and he will still have plenty more to give to us at a later date, and to the rest of the world. Even when he grants our smallest wishes it does not take away the possibility of more important prayers being answered.
Jesus invites us, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (Jn 16:24, RSV) Therefore, let us ask him for every good thing. Ask away, and build up a trustful relationship with the Lord. He is a very loving and generous friend.
He says, “I have loved you just as the Father has loved me.” (Jn 15:9, NJB) “Your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Lk 12:32, NIV)
(4). The Lukan passage in (2) contains the final part of the response which Jesus gave to the rich young man who ran up to him, knelt down, and asked: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mk 10:17, RSV) Remember what happened? Jesus told him: “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mk 10:21, RSV) On hearing this, “his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful.” (Mk 10:22, RSV) He kept his heart clinging tightly to where it used to be.
There are people who wish to follow Jesus perfectly, but their inner desire for admiration from their peers reveal an inordinate attachment to wealth, affluence and human approval – not unlike some of their materialistically-minded acquaintances.
What sadness this could lead to! Jesus says to his disciples: “I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear.” (Lk 12:22, NAB) These words are meant for the poor in spirit, but they can certainly apply to the rich who worry – if they were to start giving away significant amounts of money and possessions – how they would appear to the world if they suddenly could not afford to live in keeping with their former luxurious lifestyles, or eat at the same trendy restaurants, or wear the latest fashionable clothes.
Jesus says: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. ” (Mt 6:24–25, NIV)
Do not wait until Lent to pray the Way of the Cross. Come close to Jesus daily by spending a few short moments with him in a manner like the sample below. Ask him to teach you what to think about him, what to learn from him, how you can be like him, in what way you are already following in his footsteps, how you have used his good example to deal with conflicts in your family, in the work-place, with acquaintances, and with those who treat you as an enemy. Share with him your joys, your sorrows, your concerns of the day. Thank him.
It is true that this Way of the Cross version does not carry with it any plenary indulgence from the Church. If you want, you can pray a version to which an indulgence is attached. How often you do that each year is for you to count.
Every Catholic church has the fourteen Stations of the Cross displayed prominently on the walls. Why is this?
1st Station: Jesus is condemned to death
Jesus, at the time when you were sentenced to die cruelly by crucifixion, no Gospel had been compiled and no theological treatises had been written to expound on what you were doing. You faced your sacrifice silently, offering no explanation to anyone. Never once did you look for sympathy. You knew what you had to do, and did it for the eternal benefit of all.
2nd Station: Jesus carries his cross
Jesus, you were insulted, beaten, and made to shoulder the cross. The spectators regarded you as a disgraced failure. No matter what people thought, you persisted on your sacred mission without telling your foes you were doing the greatest good for them. You bore no bitterness; you did not fight back. You remained constantly meek and humble of heart. You cared not for praise or human recognition.
3rd Station: Jesus falls the first time
Jesus, after an all-night ordeal of brutality and torment, you collapsed. You could have used this fall as an excuse to call off the rest of the humiliating undertaking; but you got up and pressed onward.
4th Station: Jesus meets his afflicted mother
Jesus, I can imagine your Mother saying: “Son, you are doing the right thing. No matter what vicious things people say about you, keep up the good work.
“I have asked your Father: our Son’s Passion is excruciatingly agonizing. Please have mercy on him and reduce the time of his suffering by giving the same suffering to me too.”
5th Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus
Jesus, you accepted assistance from a stranger. Even though he was only forced into giving you a hand, in return you inspired the evangelists to include in the Bible his name and those of his sons and his village. Lord, how much more will you reward me if I do things for you voluntarily!
6th Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Going against the current, and without the slightest concern for her own safety and reputation, Veronica braved the wrath of the soldiers and the crowds by coming to your aid. Jesus, whenever I follow her example of devotedness to you with selfless bravery, I will become more and more your true icon in heart and soul and mind.
7th Station: Jesus falls a second time
Jesus, you were whipped and pushed, and fell again. You got back on our feet, not because you were coerced, but because of your immense love for me and your desire to save me.
8th Station: Jesus consoles the women of Jerusalem
Jesus, you always respected women, never taking advantage of them or preying on their sympathy and affection. Even in your own hour of need, you made sure to remind them to take care.
In the four gospels, I have seen how kindly you treated mothers, widows, little girls and women of all ages – sinners and the virtuous alike. You were always so thoughtful and considerate towards each one of them. Lord, I want to be like you.
9th Station: Jesus falls the third time
Jesus, you summoned up your last ounce of energy to complete your mission for my sake. Thank you.
10th Station: Jesus is stripped of his garments
Jesus, you submitted yourself to humiliation on my behalf; that is why, time and time again, even when I could have been put me to shame, I wasn’t.
For your love does not apply solely to my life after death. Your love is concerned with every situation in my life now. Never should I live in darkness, with a shadow hanging over my head; when I surrender each difficulty into your hands, the light of your grace shines on all seemingly unsolvable problems. Thank you, Jesus.
And Lord, help me never to embarrass anyone
11th Station: Jesus is nailed to the cross
Jesus, you endured unbearable pains so that I do not have to suffer much. Lord, every time I ask, you deliver me from all tribulations – mental, physical and spiritual. You never fail me to make my life easier.
And Jesus, help me never to harm anybody.
12th Station: Jesus dies on the cross
Jesus, you loved me so much that even if I were the only person who needed redemption, you would have died for me. “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20, NIV) Thank you, Lord.
13th Station: Jesus is taken down from the cross
Jesus, why did you create me? For Heaven, of course! Nothing less! Without consulting me, you fashioned me; was it for suffering or for disaster? Certainly not! You are God, what you do must be for good. It cannot be otherwise.
Thank you for creating me and redeeming me from my sins, keeping the door open for me to live in eternal happiness. Thank you for directing me back onto the right path every step of the way.
14th Station: Jesus is laid in the sepulcher
Jesus, with the help of your grace, I resolve not to sin against you anymore. I resolve to live in simplicity and absolute trust in your unparalleled kindness towards me.
Yes, it is good to pray with family and friends and parishioners, or in prayer groups, or at charismatic meetings and conferences… It can be very fruitful, and often a lot of fun, especially when accompanied by instrumental music and the raising of hands.
Still, sometimes, do as Jesus did: pray alone in secret!
Near the beginning of his ministry in Capernaum, after teaching in a synagogue, Jesus drove out an unclean spirit from a man, and, on the same day cured Simon’s mother-in-law of a severe fever. That evening, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town gathered at the door, and he drove out many demons and healed many who had various diseases. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mk 1:35, NIV)
After healing a leper, Jesus ordered him not to tell anyone. “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Lk 5:15-16, NIV)
As soon as Jesus finished feeding the five thousand by multiplying two fish and five loaves, he made his disciples get into the boat, and dismissed the crowds. “After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone.” (Mt 14:23, NAB)
“In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named apostles…” (Lk 6:12-13, NAB)
Jesus teaches: “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Mt 6:5-8, NAB)
Jesus said, “This is my Body… This is my Blood” (Mk 14:22, 24).
Similar sayings are in Luke and Matthew, but not in John – where the Last Supper scene describes the washing of the Apostles’ feet. The discourse on Holy Communion in John, however, is found in Chapter Six, starting at verse 35 and intensifying from verse 48 onwards.
“I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world” (Jn 6:51).
“In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (Jn 6:53).
“For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink” (Jn 6:55).
The above are Jesus’ teachings in the synagogue at Capernaum. Below are the reactions from some of his listeners. “After hearing it, many of his followers said, ‘This is intolerable language! How could anyone accept it?’… After this many of his disciples went away and accompanied him no more” (Jn 6:60, 66).
Many Christians interpret Jesus’ sayings literally. The disciples in the above Gospel passage certainly did. It was the reason they left him.
While they were walking off, a most astounding thing happened. Jesus did not shout out after them in panic: “Wait. Stop. Please don’t go. I am sorry. I used the wrong words. I was only speaking in symbols. I don’t mean what you think I was saying. You don’t eat me – you eat bread and drink wine.” No! He let them go. He was speaking literally!!! He meant what he said. This was the sacrament of his limitless love, the food that would lead to life everlasting, and one tangible way he chose to keep his promise: “I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Mt 28:20).
He asserted, “Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day” (Jn 6:54).
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person” (Jn 6:56).
“As the living Father sent me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will also draw life from me” (Jn 6:57).
Jesus sometimes identifies himself (or someone else, e.g., John the Baptist or St. Paul, identifies him) as an entity like the lamb of God, or the good shepherd, or light, love, peace, the resurrection, etc. An example is seen in the gospel according to John where Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6). This is different from saying, “I show the way, I proclaim the truth, I give life.” Jesus is telling us that to find the way we have to walk along him; to know the truth we need to know him; to have life we must live in him.
So, when he says, “I am the bread of life” (Jn 6:35), what do you think he wants you to do?
At Cana in Galilee, the first time a description of Jesus at a banquet was recorded, he changed water into wine. At the upper room in Bethany, the last time a description of Jesus at a banquet on earth was chronicled, Jesus changed wine into his own blood. At Calvary, on the cross, as he died, he was pierced on the side, and his blood poured forth into the world for the redemption of those who wanted it.
At the Last Supper, he had also taken a cup and, after giving thanks, handed it to the disciples saying: “Drink from this, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. From now on, I tell you, I shall never again drink wine until the day I drink the new wine with you in the kingdom of my Father.” (Mt 26:27–29)
If you want to be present at the final banquet, the one in Heaven, do as Jesus commanded.
(The above Biblical quotations are taken from the New Jerusalem Bible.)
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” (Mt 9:36–38, RSV)
The prayer for labourers has risen up to the Lord countless number of times over the centuries. Have you ever considered yourself an answer to the prayer?
Who Is a shepherd?
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’ The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’” (Jn 21:15–17, NIV)
The person who truly loves Jesus is the one who may be called upon to feed his lambs and tend his sheep. If you love Jesus, you may be asked to shepherd for him. The flock he gives you may not be large. It may be no more than a few relatives or friends. It may be just one member in your family or among your co-workers and acquaintances. It may even be a stranger that you meet by chance. Whoever they are, they may need you.
Knowledge and discretion
Of course, you have to be thoroughly educated in the ways of the Lord. You have to be well informed. You must study; you must become qualified. You must not make up your own theology from your limited understanding. You must learn procedures of discernment from experienced spiritual directors. You have to choose the right words at the right moment. You have to be tactful, discreet, wise and loving.
You have to keep his commandments, and pray for guidance and help from the Holy Spirit. Jesus said: “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.” (Jn 14:15–17, NIV)
What are some things you can do?
1. Genuine caring
“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” (Mk 6:34, NIV)
As in the quotation at the beginning of this chapter, we are told that the crowds were “like sheep without a shepherd.” In the first passage, Jesus asks for more labourers. Here he reveals how a shepherd feels and acts. “He had compassion on them.” His heart went out to them. He was moved with pity. He did not despise the people or hide from them, or make excuses to be rid of them. Even though he was very tired, he “began teaching them,” and he taught them “many things.”
We, too, can spend time with people who are lost for lack of direction. By kindness and understanding we can extend the comforting hand of Jesus to them. By showing our concern, we can spread his love and his good news.
“By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. ‘This is a remote place,’ they said, ‘and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’ But he answered, ‘You give them something to eat.’” (Mk 6:35-37, NIV)
Don’t send the people away. Do something for them yourself. Without sinning or falling into temptation, do whatever you can, however little. In the above incident, when the disciples came forward with two fish and five loaves, Jesus built on their initiative and fed over five thousand people. You begin; Jesus will finish.
Youth prayer groups have been formed in many parishes throughout the world. The first steps towards organizing these were often taken by parents who saw the need for such spiritual gatherings for their sons and daughters. They did this voluntarily and without being ordered to do so. Now their young ones have a chance to know the joy of walking with the Lord. Now they have a trustworthy companion in Jesus. Now they do not spend their Saturday nights in undesirable places or with disreputable friends. These parents are examples of concerned shepherds.
Many men and women, boys and girls, fast and pray the Rosary for the conversion of unbelievers and sinners. These are noble and unselfish ways of helping to save countless numbers of human beings from unnecessary and prolonged darkness and pain. This is caring. This is love. This is another illustration of shepherding.
The Good Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.” (Jn 10:11-13, RSV)
Be like Jesus. Do not run from the problem. Stay and help. Lay down your life for God’s people. The Holy Spirit is in you by virtue of the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Use his power and the courage which he has placed in you.
2. Speaking out
Picture the scene at the first Christmas.
“In the countryside close by there were shepherds out in the fields keeping guard over their sheep during the watches of the night. An angel of the Lord stood over them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, ‘Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.'” (Lk 2:8-11, NJB)
“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” (Lk 2:15-18, RSV)
“As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Lk 2:19, NJB)
The shepherds were simple peasants. Why would anyone believe that they saw angels in the middle of the night? Why would anybody believe that they carried “good news” from these “angels”? Why would even one person take them seriously about the baby in the manger being the Christ for whom all of Israel was waiting? Yet, courageously, they spoke out. “They made known” the message. It made the Mother of God ponder in her heart. She “treasured” their words.
To bear witness for Jesus, you simply speak out. The angel’s announcement to the shepherds was, “Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people.” Do not fear. What you say about Jesus is joyful news. It is good news. It should be shared by all.
Moreover, do not just speak about Jesus. Tell them to carry out what he taught. He said,
“… and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.” (Mt 28:20, NJB)
Not everyone will agree with what Jesus says. Not everyone will do all that he asks. But his words may make them wonder and think. Some may be influenced without your being aware of it.
In Medjugorje, many homes used to display a poster which said, “U ovoj kući se ne psuje.” It means, “In this house do not swear.” This demonstrates a silent way of speaking out.
The elimination of foul language helps to control bad temper and anger, and diminishes one’s false sense of self-importance; it can promote gentleness and peace among fellow-workers and family members. It can help bring a Christian atmosphere to places where people come together.
In the Western world, it is not fashionable to place such signs in homes and offices. But if you will begin by not using vulgar expletives yourself, it might cause others to follow your example. Let peace begin with you. To live a certain way is to speak out for that way.
Don’t be shy
Never feel embarrassed by your loyalty to Jesus.
“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mk 8:38, RSV)
Make decisions in accordance with his teaching. Go off to pray even if others should ridicule you for it. Some days attend noon Mass instead of having lunch with your colleagues; take some friends with you. Acknowledge Jesus by hanging his portrait and crucifix in your home.
“He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them.” (Jn 10:2-4, RSV)
By Baptism and Confirmation, by your love of Jesus and obedience to his commands, by your grounding in, and fidelity to, the teaching of the Church, you have entered through the gate that shepherds go through. You have the potential to be one of them. Develop that potential. A shepherd “leads them out” and “goes before them.” He is a guide, one who shows the way, one who walks in front. He starts things going where there is a need.
In today’s world, bringing up adolescents can be a harrowing experience for parents. There are many evils to beware of: immorality, alcoholism, pornography, drugs, gun violence, careless drivers… At the same time, temptations to sin come from many directions: television, magazines, friends, movies, social media…
To help their children, parents need to teach and guide them, especially by their own non-hypocritical examples. They must love them, spend time with them, and pray with them. They should correct and discipline them, but also allow their children some privacy and opportunities for self-expression and maturation, remembering that their offspring do not necessarily become exactly what parents hope and plan.
In this chapter three important considerations are emphasized: parents must pray for their children, they must have faith in God, they must not live in fear.
- PRAY FOR YOUR CHILDREN
A mother’s prayer
The prayer of a parent is very powerful. The passage below illustrates how a persistent mother hung on to Jesus and moved him to perform a miracle for her daughter.
“Jesus left that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And suddenly out came a Canaanite woman from that district and started shouting, ‘Lord, Son of David, take pity on me. My daughter is tormented by a devil.’ But he said not a word in answer to her. And his disciples went and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Give her what she wants, because she keeps shouting after us.’ He said in reply, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.’ But the woman had come up and was bowing low before him. ‘Lord,’ she said, ‘help me.’ He replied, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to little dogs.’ She retorted, ‘Ah yes, Lord; but even little dogs eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, you have great faith. Let your desire be granted.’ And from that moment her daughter was well again.” (Mt 15:21–28, NJB)
A father’s prayer
The father in the next passage had asked the disciples to help. But when they could not, he persevered by going to Jesus.
“As they were rejoining the crowd a man came up to him and went down on his knees before him. ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘take pity on my son: he is demented and in a wretched state; he is always falling into fire and into water. I took him to your disciples and they were unable to cure him.’ In reply, Jesus said, ‘Faithless and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.’ And when Jesus rebuked it the devil came out of the boy, who was cured from that moment.” (Mt 17:14–18, NJB)
What troubles your children? Whatever it is, pray for them. What troubles you concerning your children? Examine yourself truthfully, and pray for yourself.
If there is anything you can do, do it with wisdom and affection, and pray. If there is nothing you or anyone else can do, pray.
In Mark’s description of the above healing story, when asked by his disciples why they themselves could not cast out the demon from the boy, Jesus answered: “This is the kind that can be driven out only by prayer.” (Mk 9:29, NJB)
- HAVE FAITH
When you pray, do so with faith. Jesus said to the Canaanite mother: “Woman, you have great faith! Let your desire be granted.” (Mt 15:28, NJB)
He said to the demented boy’s father in the Gospel according to Mark: “Everything is possible for one who has faith.” (Mk 9:23, NJB)
To the disciples who could not heal the boy, he gave this reason: “Because you have so little faith. In truth I tell you, if your faith is the size of a mustard seed you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mt 17:20, NJB)
By believing in Jesus, the father in the next story obtained what he asked for.
“And at Caper’na-um there was an official whose son was ill. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him, ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’ The official said to him, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was living. So he asked them the hour when he began to mend, and they said to him, ‘Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.’ The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live’; and he himself believed, and all his household.” (Jn 4:46–53, RSV)
The concern you have for your sons and daughters may not be physical. Read the above texts again as though they are about your own children, but replace the mentioned illness by the maladies threatening the young ones in your home.
Read the next story as if it is about your child whom you imagine to be on the road to eternal damnation.
“And suddenly there came a man named Jairus, who was president of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and pleaded with him to come to his house, because he had an only daughter about twelve years old, who was dying…
“While he was still speaking, someone arrived from the house of the president of the synagogue to say, ‘Your daughter has died. Do not trouble the Master any further.’ But Jesus heard this, and he spoke to the man, ‘Do not be afraid, only have faith and she will be saved.’… They were all crying and mourning for her, but Jesus said, ‘Stop crying; she is not dead, but asleep.’ But they ridiculed him, knowing she was dead. But taking her by the hand himself he spoke to her, ‘Child, get up.’ And her spirit returned and she got up at that very moment. Then he told them to give her something to eat.” (Lk 8:41–42, 49–50, 52–55, NJB)
No matter how hopeless the situation appears, entrust your children to Jesus. Entrust yourself to him. And learn from his example. He took the child by the hand with kindness; he spoke with her; he asked her parents to give her something to eat, to nourish her, to care for her, to be attentive and loving towards her, to cherish her.
Trust Jesus’ saving mission
On page 19 above, the story of Zacchaeus actually ends with Jesus saying: “For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Lk 19:10, RSV) In the gospel according to Luke, that sentence defines the role of Jesus as saviour.
He also said the following.
“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” (Jn 6:37–39, NIV)
“The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from my hand. The Father, for what he has given me, is greater than anyone, and no one can steal anything from the Father’s hand.” (Jn 10:27–29, NJB)
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Mt 18:10–14, RSV)
- DO NOT BE AFRAID
In the account of Jairus’ daughter, Jesus said to the father of the little girl: “Do not be afraid, only have faith and she will be saved… She is not dead, but asleep.” (Lk 8:50, 52, NJB)
In another passage of the gospel, he assures everyone:
“Can you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? And yet not one is forgotten in God’s sight. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. There is no need to be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Lk 12:6–7, NJB)
You are very precious in God’s eyes. So are your children. God has not forgotten them. He looks after them – just as he has looked after you from your youth, and will continue doing so because you need him just as much as your children do.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You trust in God; trust also in me.” (Jn 14:1, NJB)
When you have done all that you can, place everything else in God’s hands. Let his power be displayed in the healing of your children and you.
“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.’” (Jn 9:1–3, RSV)
Young people have their hardships. They are passing through a difficult stage in life. The devil will try to make you treat them like enemies. Do not be misled by him. Scripture says:
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Pet 5:8-9, NIV)
Jesus’ command is to love one another, not hate. Your children are your flesh and blood. If you don’t love them, who will?
By love, the Canaanite mother was able to enlist Jesus’ help in casting out the devil from her daughter. (Mt 15:21–28, in the first story above.)
Next time the devil attacks by creating a storm in your heart, do not fall for his tricks or react irrationally. Turn to Jesus immediately and ask him to come into the situation.
Go in peace
It takes a long time for young adults to grow and mature. It takes a long time for parents to grow and mature. Parents have lived more years; they should not use their greater age to browbeat their children, or to create more discord and conflict, but to bring affection and peace to their homes. They should not wait to be grandparents for this to happen. Let them begin now.
“Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mk 9:50, RSV)
There may be occasional troubles and pain, but with God’s help all will be well in the end. Through overcoming your trials and difficulties, you will ripen into understanding and loving Christians.
Do whatever is in your power for your children. Go to the parish library or a trustworthy Catholic bookstore to find a suitable book on parenting. Ask those who might be able to lend a hand, for example, an experienced priest. But above all, pray for your children, have faith in God, do not live in fear.
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Lk 7:50, NIV) Faith will save your family. Faith will bring peace.
A word to all youths
The work of bringing up the young is not easy. Parents do not always possess enough knowledge or presence of mind to take the best course of action in every situation. You, sons and daughters, can help by your co-operation and love.
Jesus said: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12, RSV)
He also said: “Honour your father and your mother.” (Mt 19:19, NJB)
You give them the most honour, love, and peace of mind, by leading lives of great goodness.
Act of Consecration to Jesus
Jesus, when you were twelve years old, you gave your parents quite a scare by secretly remaining in Jerusalem while they were on the road back to Nazareth. They searched anxiously for you and did not find you till the third day. Your mother has since learned how to care for the young in peace. Today, she has millions of children to look after throughout the world. Many of them are worrisome, yet she is able to stay calm and serene.
From this day forward, I consecrate to your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of Peace, myself and my family members. Direct us towards holiness. Help us to pray, to have strong faith and not to be afraid. Help us to live in peace with ourselves and with our families, and be reconciled with one another, loving each other according to the commands you gave in the gospel.
What are you waiting for? A more meaningful life? A better job? A physical healing? The completion of a project? A problem to go away? The conversion of a relative?
Most people are obliged to wait for one thing or another. In the gospel you will find many blessed individuals having to bear their share of waiting. Mary is a prime example. The angel Gabriel appeared to her and announced:
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.”… And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:30–31, 38, RSV)
With her assent, Mary opened herself to much waiting throughout her existence. The carrying of Jesus in her womb for nine months was only the beginning.
When Jesus was twelve years old, Joseph and Mary discovered that their son was missing on their return from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. After a three-day search, they found him in the temple, asking the learned men questions and answering theirs, astounding them with his intelligence.
His mother complained, and he gave his answer:
“My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.” He replied, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:48–49, NJB)
Jesus yearned to start doing his Father’s work; he wanted to get on with the vocation he felt he had; his family could hardly hold him back. Yet, even with his advanced intelligence and understanding, he consented to wait. And for two decades he studied and worked in Nazareth, quietly growing up, and patiently getting ready for his future task.
The apostles waited too, though not for quite as long. Soon after his resurrection, Jesus commanded them to proclaim to all nations repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name. But first, he said:
“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Lk 24:49, NIV)
They were to await the descent of the Holy Spirit. Not until Pentecost, several days later, were they to begin their mission. It was then that they burst forth in an explosion of power given from on high.
How to Wait
Whatever we are waiting for, we should make the most of the intervening time.
How? Let us gain some skills in this matter from the apostles, from Jesus, and from his mother.
Learn from the Apostles
After being told to remain in the city until the Holy Spirit came upon them, the apostles
“returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” (Lk 24:52–53, NIV)
They stayed together. They benefited from each other’s company and support. They missed Jesus, but, in a group, they were able to cope. They did not go about carrying sad faces and forlorn hearts. They waited with joy; they praised God; they prayed in the temple.
When we have to wait, let us do the same: staying in community with holy friends. Let us help each other, and be joyful. Since worrying and fretting do not make things any better, let us try praising God together.
Let us reserve time for prayer, especially at church in the presence of Our Eucharistic Lord, adoring him, listening to him and following his guidance. He may be priming and grooming us for an assignment that only we can be trained to perform.
Learn from Jesus
How did Jesus live before taking up his public ministry?
“And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them… And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.” (Lk 2:51, 52, RSV)
Jesus placed himself under the authority of his father and mother. He lived in obedience. He remained hidden. It was not till about age thirty that he worked his first miracle at a wedding in Cana.
We, too, should be obedient to God our Father, and to Mary our mother: by keeping God’s commands recorded in the Bible, and by living the messages that Our Lady passed on through her many apparitions on earth over the centuries.
“And Jesus increased in wisdom.” Many of us, as we become older, hardly become any wiser. Day after day we make the same complaints. Week after week we shed the same tears. Month after month we hold on to our hatreds and conflicts, and deal with problems through the same futile routine. We moan and groan but seldom learn from our experiences.
Jesus, on the other hand, grew in wisdom. And not only that, he also increased “in favor with God and man.” He became more and more what his Father wanted him to be; he got along better and better with his fellow human beings.
Let us seriously examine how we can improve our way of life, and how we can enrich our relationship with God and with neighbour. If we are to mature like Jesus, we should read from the gospels every day, listening to what He says, and doing all that He tells us.
Learn from Mary
What did Mary do after being informed that she would conceive and bear a son?
“Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could into the hill country to a town of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth… Mary stayed with her some three months and then went home.” (Lk 1:39–40, 56, NJB)
Instead of staying cooped up in the house, moping around, and worrying about her concerns and problems, Mary went immediately to visit her saintly cousin. She went outside, she travelled. She helped in the preparations for the birth of John the Baptist.
In the same manner, while awaiting the arrival of a future event, we should not become totally isolated. Call on good people and friends. Visit them, and invite them to visit you. Go outdoors into the fresh air and open skies. And do not just sit in your room hoping for things to happen; start something yourself. Join your parish prayer group. Cultivate holy friendships. Volunteer some of your time and resources for anyone who may be in need. Do not be miserly with your money.
Read the first chapter of the Gospel according to Luke and you will discover the special favour Elizabeth and Zechariah enjoyed in the sight of God. One can easily surmise that Mary went to see them also for the purpose of seeking their guidance. We, too, ought sometimes to ask for direction and advice from a wise priest or nun, either in person or from good books or articles they may have written.
Judging also from the Spirit-filled nature of the meeting between Elizabeth and Mary (see Lk 1:39–55), we can speculate that they spent some of their time together in spiritual conversation and prayer. We, too, should daily devote time to praying and to pondering the things of God.
The Hour of Deliverance
Before Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph had to return to Bethlehem to be counted in the Roman census.
“And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son.” (Lk 2:6–7, RSV)
Just as the term of Mary’s confinement came to completion, so will ours. The length of our waiting may be indefinite, but it is certainly not infinite. We may have to wait nine months, or two decades, or a few days, but there will be an end to it all. There will finally be a moment of deliverance, of fulfillment. Then will our hearts overflow with such gratitude and peace.
Do not be impatient. Do not be cast down. Our day will come. It will come soon enough. Like the apostles, let us wait cheerfully and joyfully in prayer, supporting one another, and praising God for his far-sighted providence. Like Jesus, let us wait in obedience, improving ourselves spiritually and in other ways, growing in wisdom and in our relationship with God and with our neighbours. Like Mary, let us wait in doing good, making use of our time for the benefit of others, and getting ourselves refreshed and ready for what is to come.
Someday, like Mary, we too will give birth to Jesus – bringing Christ to those whom God has all along been preparing us to reach out to and lead back to himself.
Here are five examples of Jesus’ sayings taken from the Gospel according to Luke.
At that very moment he rejoiced [in] the holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.” (Lk 10:21, NAB)
“When you pray, this is what to say: Father, may your name be held holy.” (Lk 11:2, NJB)
“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Lk 18:14, NIV)
“Blessed are you who are hungry now: you shall have your fill… But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.” (Lk 6:21, 24, NJB)
And Jesus said to him [Zacchaeus], “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.” (Lk 19:9, NAB)
The wisdom of Jesus may be quite puzzling and offensive. It is woeful to be rich? We are blessed when we hunger? God hides things from the learned but reveals them to the simple? No wonder his kinsfolk did not accept him.
He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. (Mk 6:1–3, NAB)
“Where did this man get all this?”
Although Jesus is fully divine, he is also human in every respect except sin. And as a human being, he had to grow. We see in the gospel that he appeared first as a tiny baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, and it took many years for him to become a mature adult. But not only did he grow physically, he also had to develop mentally and intellectually. “Jesus increased in wisdom” (Lk 2:52, NJB). He was not born with all his wisdom; he had to acquire it. As a human being, he would gain true wisdom in the same way that other human beings do – by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Now, the Holy Spirit works in us through many of our experiences; he teaches us through Scripture; he operates via some of the people we come in contact with – friends, acquaintances, teachers, priests and, perhaps more than all the others, our parents! And Jesus most certainly received much of his wisdom by way of Mary and Joseph, for, as we have seen, he “went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them” (Lk 2:51, NAB).
To illustrate Mary’s influence on Jesus, let us look at the Magnificat. Mary said:
- My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
- For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown the strength with his arm.
- He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree.
- He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.
- He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever. (Lk 1:46–55, RSV)
Jesus and Mary
Let us put the words of Jesus and his mother side by side, so that their similarities can be seen more readily.
- At that very moment he rejoiced [in] the holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.”
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
- When you pray, this is what to say: Father, may your name be held holy. [God is holy means, among other things, that he is mighty, merciful, to be feared, full of strength.]
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown the strength with his arm.
- For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree.
- Blessed are you who are hungry now: you shall have your fill… But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.
He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.
- And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.”
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.
An inspired canticle
Some biblical scholars suggest that the words of the Magnificat were not Mary’s own. Others declare them to be a collection of hymns and sayings from the psalms and elsewhere. Still others maintain that it was not Mary who uttered them, but Elizabeth, her cousin. The evangelist, however, was moved by the Holy Spirit to attribute the song to Mary – showing his readers the sort of person she was, revealing her thoughts and ideals, and the type of wisdom she passed on to Jesus.
“What kind of wisdom has been given him? … Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary?” How could Jesus be wise if he was merely the son of Mary? How could Jesus’ teachings be thought of as wisdom if he had only learned it from his mother? Our answer is this: it is precisely because he was the son of Mary that, through her perfect co-operation with the Holy Spirit, Jesus was directed to appreciate this kind of wisdom. It is precisely because he was the son of Mary that Jesus was led to learn what he learned. It is precisely because he was the son of Mary that Jesus eventually taught this wisdom to his disciples.
On the day Mary presented her son at the temple, a devout man named Simeon, prompted by the Holy Spirit, came up to her and prophesied the following:
“… – and a sword will pierce your soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.” (Lk 2:35, NJB)
During her time on earth, Mary was not spared the trials and tribulations which accompany the life of a parent. By pondering in her heart all the joys and sorrows that passed her way, she came to understand much about human nature. By teaching her son the wisdom she learned from the Holy Spirit, she indirectly taught the world what was of importance, and what was not.
Please examine the gospel passage below and keep these three questions at the back of your mind as you read it. In the narrative, what was the final result? Who received directives from Jesus and immediately did what they were told? Who initiated the proceedings?
“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’
‘Woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ‘My hour has not yet come.’
His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” (Jn 2:1-11, NIV)
Jesus’ answer to his mother meant: “Why do you involve me? What has this got to do with me? My hour has not yet come, has it? Did you not tell me at age twelve when you found me at the temple in Jerusalem that I should live quietly at home in Nazareth?”
Besides, at the temple in Jerusalem, the teachers who heard the young lad speak were astounded by his answers and his understanding; but there was no indication that he could perform miracles.
Jesus’ order to the servants: “Fill the jars with water.” To the servants, that must have seemed rather irrational. For, at what part of the wedding feast did this happen: at the beginning, or the middle, or towards the end? Obviously it was towards the end – otherwise the wine would not have run out. Even the steward retorted to the bridegroom: “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” The water was for ritual-washing at the guests’ arrivals. Nobody else was going to arrive anymore. Why should all the jars be filled?
But the servants did everything as Jesus instructed them, and filled the six jars to the brim.
Then they followed more instructions: draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet to drink.
What a surprise it turned out to be; and what blessings for everyone: the wine-steward, the groom, the bride, the guests, and, especially, the servants.
What was the final result? It revealed Jesus’ glory; and his disciples believed in him.
Who received directives from Jesus, and immediately did as they were told? The servants!
The lesson we can learn from the story is: when Jesus tells you to do something, do it! Yes, listen to him, but don’t stop there. Heed his instructions and act on them. It will surely lead to faith in God, to revelation of his glory, and to the blessing of everyone.
The blessedness of Jesus’ followers is measured by how obediently they carry out the word of the Lord, not by how impressively they perform rituals in the sight of people or how busy they are involved in spiritual activities, not by how frequently they come up with pious remarks or how nice-sounding are the prayers they say, not by how much theology they know or how many religious conferences they attend, not by how popular they can become or how many famous people they are associated with.
“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” (Lk 11:28, NIV)
Who initiated the proceedings at Cana that led to the first of the signs through which Jesus revealed his glory, and caused his disciples to believe in him?
It was Mother Mary!
Her purpose: draw attention to her Son and to obey him.
That was her vocation; it still is today.
And her command will always be: Do whatever Jesus tells you!
Notice that the good servants in the story obeyed not only Jesus, but his Mother too.
In this work, the initials RSV indicate that the Scripture quotations are from the REVISED STANDARD VERSION BIBLE, Second Catholic Edition, copyright © 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Any passage designated NJB is an excerpt from THE NEW JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright © 1998 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. Reprinted by permission.
Texts followed by the letters NIV are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
In this work, Scripture excerpts marked NAB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN BIBLE REVISED EDITION copyright © 2011, 1986, 1970, by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used with permission. All rights reserved.