This article was previously published by the Lepanto Institute
July 16th was the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I am very inclined to Carmelite spirituality since I discovered St John of the Cross. Naturally, today I attended Holy Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Mario Cardinal Poli, gave the homily. The reading of the Gospel was taken from John 2:1-12.
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.
I was quite surprised by the way Cardinal Poli looked at this reading of the Gospel. Quite precisely he decided to see the scene through the eyes of Mary. I can say without exaggerating that during that Mass I saw through the eyes of Our Blessed Mother for the first time in my life. I wish I could have memorized the whole homily but my memory is not that good, I can only remember the main theme.
The scene, as described by St. John, is fraught with meaning. There are so many details, so many numbers. This is a diamond with many facets but today is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and we must concentrate on her rôle. Mary is aware of the needs of the wedding. Wine is running out. In those days one can imagine that wine was the joy of every feast, more so in a joyful occasion like a wedding. (Proverbs 31:6-7)
The connection with Elijah and Mount Carmel is quite evident. In the days of Elijah, Israel had fallen into apostasy and there was a severe drought that had lasted seven years. Pagan foreigners controlled the kingdom and imposed the worship of Baal on the few that tried to remain faithful to the true God of Israel. To that terrible time came that little cloud –a type of Mary– that grew into a great storm that drenched the soil of Israel with life-giving water.
Back to the wedding at Cana. Jesus is quickly informed by Mary of a problem: the banquet is running out of wine. Jesus and Mary exchange only a few words but they understand each other perfectly. Some find Jesus’ response a bit harsh; it is not. We can tell by Mary’s reaction to Jesus’ words: she tells the servants: “do everything He tells you” — she’s been doing that ever since! Every apparition of the Virgin Mary always points at obedience to God, to not offending God, to please God with our lives, etc. In Cana, she knows perfectly well in her heart that Jesus is capable of fixing the problem, and He will fix the problem because Mary asked Him to do it.
The problem is solved superbly! The first of Jesus’ signs is a joyful sign, and a theological problem for teetotalers to these days!
Now see the scene as a prophetic model.
The world we live in is quickly running out of joy. I am sure I do not have to demonstrate this point. Ungrateful people complain all the time for every conceivable reason. We live in an era of unparalleled prosperity and yet many are not happy with their lot — and those are not always the ones who have less.
Our Mother looks at this problematic and increasingly joyless world with eyes of mercy, appearing often to the most insignificant men and women, sometimes to children, to point at the need we have to return to Christ. She is seeing what is lacking in many places: work, housing, food, family love, spousal love. The world is now drinking the dregs of a bitter harvest. Without merciful charity, they can’t find joy in power, money, or drugs, illicit perversions, or loud “entertainment” of any kind. Those will not bring lasting joy for sure.
I can imagine Our Mother scanning this sad world with her eyes and seeing all that is needed. I can affirm that she knows only Jesus can fix things and restore this world to joy. During that Mass I caught her glance with my mind’s eye. I know Christ caught it too. Expect a miracle. Hope with the only sure hope there is: Christ is coming to save us from ourselves. Final joy is inevitable.