Mary’s great faith, the power of her prayer and her co-operation in
her Son’s saving mission invite Christians of every age to trust the
"Mary's request: 'Do whatever he tells you', keeps its ever
timely value for Christians of every age.... It is an exhortation to
trust without hesitation, especially when one does not understand the
meaning or benefit of what Christ asks", the Holy Father said at
the General Audience of Wednesday, 26 February, as he spoke of Mary's
role at the wedding in Cana. Here is a translation of his catechesis,
which was the 44th in the series on the Blessed Virgin and was given in
1. In the episode of the wedding at Cana, St John presents Mary's
first intervention in the public life of Jesus and highlights her
co-operation in her Son's mission.
At the beginning of the account the Evangelist tells us that
"the Mother of Jesus was there" (Jn 2: 1), and, as if to
suggest that her presence was the reason for the couple's invitation to
Jesus and his disciples (cf. Redemptoris Mater, n. 21), he adds
"Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples" (Jn
2:2). With these remarks, John seems to indicate that at Cana, as in the
fundamental event of the Incarnation, it is Mary who introduces the
The meaning and role of the Blessed Virgin's presence become evident
when the wine runs out. As a skilled and wise housewife, she immediately
notices and intervenes so that no one's joy is marred and, above all, to
help the newly married couple in difficulty.
Turning to Jesus with the words: "they have no wine" (Jn
2:3), Mary expresses her concern to him about this situation, expecting
him to solve it. More precisely, according to some exegetes, his Mother
is expecting an extraordinary sign, since Jesus had no wine at his
Mary strengthened the disciples' faith by obtaining the miracle
2. The choice made by Mary, who could perhaps have obtained the
necessary wine elsewhere, shows the courage of her faith, since until
that moment Jesus had worked no miracles, either in Nazareth or in his
At Cana, the Blessed Virgin once again showed her total availability
to God. At the Annunciation she had contributed to the miracle of the
virginal conception by believing in Jesus before seeing him; here, her
trust in Jesus' as yet unrevealed power causes him to perform his
"first sign", the miraculous transformation of water into
In that way she precedes in faith the disciples who, as John says,
would believe after the miracle: Jesus "manifested his glory; and
his disciples believed in him" (Jn 2:11). Thus, Mary strengthened
their faith by obtaining this miraculous sign.
3. Jesus' answer to Mary's words, "O woman, what have you to do
with me? My hour has not yet come" (Jn 2:4), appears to express a
refusal, as if putting his Mother's faith to the test.
According to one interpretation, from the moment his mission begins
Jesus seems to call into question the natural relationship of son to
which his mother refers. The sentence, in the local parlance, is meant
to stress a distance between the persons, by excluding a communion of
life. This distance does not preclude respect and esteem; the term
"woman" by which he addresses his Mother is used with a nuance
that will recur in the conversations with the Canaanite woman (cf. Mt
15:28), the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4:21), the adulteress (cf. Jn 8:10)
and Mary Magdalene (cf. Jn 20:13), in contexts that show Jesus' positive
relationship with his female interlocutors.
With the expression: "O woman, what have you to do with
me?", Jesus intends to put Mary's co-operation on the level of
salvation which, by involving her faith and hope, requires her to go
beyond her natural role of mother.
4. Of much greater import is the reason Jesus gives: "My hour
has not yet come" (Jn 2:4). Some scholars who have studied this
sacred text, following St Augustine's interpretation, identify this
"hour" with the Passion event. For others, instead, it refers
to the first miracle in which the prophet of Nazareth's messianic power
would be revealed. Yet others hold that the sentence is interrogative
and an extension of the question that precedes it: "What have you
to do with me? Has my hour not yet come?". Jesus gives Mary to
understand that henceforth he no longer depends on her, but must take
the initiative for doing his Father's work. Then Mary docilely refrains
from insisting with him and instead turns to the servants, telling them
to obey him.
Miracle shows the power of Mary's prayer
In any case her trust in her Son is rewarded. Jesus, whom she has
left totally free to act, works the miracle, recognizing his Mother's
courage and docility: "Jesus said to them, 'Fill the jars with
water'. And they filled them up to the brim" (Jn 2:7). Thus their
obedience also helps to procure wine in abundance.
Mary's request: "Do whatever he tells you", keeps its ever
timely value for Christians of every age and is destined to renew its
marvellous effect in everyone's life. It is an exhortation to trust
without hesitation, especially when one does not understand the meaning
or benefit of what Christ asks.
As in the account of the Canaanite woman (Mt 15:24-26), Jesus'
apparent refusal exalts the woman's faith, so that her Son's words,
"My hour has not yet come", together with the working of the
first miracle, demonstrate the Mother's great faith and the power of her
The episode of the wedding at Cana urges us to be courageous in faith
and to experience in our lives the truth of the Gospel words: "Ask,
and it will be given you" (Mt 7:7; Lk 11:9).