The holy Apostle Saint James reminds us to pray to the Lord for one another because “The prayer of a righteous man has great power…” Prayer is one of the many gifts God gives to us, and in today’s text, we see that prayer has real power. Mary speaks to the Son of God on behalf of those who attend the wedding at Cana. And yes, this is a prayer. It’s not a long prayer. It’s not an eloquent prayer. But it is a prayer nevertheless when Mary says, “They have no wine.” Her prayer is no different then when we pray, plead, sigh, or cry out to the Lord and say, “Lord, we’re in a tight spot. We don’t know where to turn or what to do next. We’re trying hard to do the right thing—to live as you want us to live. But we’re weak; we’re at our wits end. Have mercy, Lord, and help us.” And what happens when Mary prays? The Lord answers her prayer. He says, “Yes.” He turns plain water into the finest of wines, in quantities large enough to keep the wedding feast going for days.
But He doesn’t give His final answer right away. He says to His mother, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” We hear that answer, and we often misunderstand. We believe that Jesus is saying no. And we think that way because impatience corrupts our prayers. It’s as if we haven’t prayed at all. The Psalmist writes, “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long.” We don’t trust the Lord; we don’t trust His timing; we don’t trust His mercy. We dare say that, when He doesn’t answer our prayers in what we consider a timely fashion, He is reluctant to help us. We dare suggest that He’s toying with us.
Why, then, does He delay? After all, our Lord’s mercy and kindness and help are not like ours. He does not give reluctantly or tightfistedly or even bitterly. Our Lord’s mercy always flows from a tender heart. Our Lord’s mercy always flows without any reluctance or second thought. Our Lord’s mercy always flows freely, generously, without any strings attached. And our Lord’s mercy always flows without any regrets. So why the delay?
He answers prayer in His way and in His time so that we might be led to greater faith. And it’s not just that He desires for us to have a stronger faith. He leads us to believe in the right things. And the right thing in today’s Gospel is not merely some wine for some party. The right thing in our lives is not simply for the things we believe will make our lives better. The right thing in today’s Gospel—as it was from the beginning and remains to this day—is to trust the help, the comfort, the deliverance, the mercy, the kindness, and the salvation we receive from the water and blood that poured from Our Lord’s side—into the baptismal font and into the holy chalice.
Our Lord wishes us to set our sights, not on the wine in which we drown our sorrows or create our momentary happiness, but on the wine which is His holy precious blood—the blood of the Son of God which which was given and shed for us to drink for the remission of our sins. This is the sign of our salvation: the sign of the Lord’s mercy; the sign that God the Father has not abandoned us; the sign that He has sent His Son for our deliverance, and that, by His Spirit, we are united to Him and restored to communion and fullness of life in the Holy Blessed Trinity.
So Mary prays, “They have no wine.” By saying this she means, “Lord, they need the full abundance of Your all-availing mercy.” And our Lord, as He always does, comes through. He provides richly—all we need to support this body and life, and all we need for the life of the world to come. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.