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Thought for the week - 16 January 2022

It is quite a simple human scale story to begin with isn’t it. A family wedding; the wine runs short.Mary, a sensitive and kind woman notices and does what she can to help. She asks Jesus to use his special powers to intervene. Jesus is hesitant, but because his mother asks, he gives in and works a miracle. Simples, as they say.

But this is St John’s Gospel. Nothing is ever as it seems. The first, simple impression is never the full story with John.

Certainly there is a miracle. Water is changed into wine. There is a picture of the generosity of God, there is the image of celebration, of the Wedding feast of the Lamb. There is a snapshot of the special relationship between Jesus and his mother as intercessor.

But perhaps there is - certainly there is, - another layer of meaning too.

The Christian apologist writer, CS Lewis said of prayer:

“Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes me.”

Part of what Lewis meant was that prayer isn’t always about us telling God what to do, even if what we ask for is good and holy, there is more much more to it than that. Prayer is also about opening our hearts to God and allowing him to speak to us, to change us.

Here perhaps, in St John’s account of the marriage at Cana is an example of that process.

Perhaps here is an example of a new revelation to Mary of God’s will and a deep change in her relationship with her son Jesus. Up until this point Jesus is subject to his mother’s authority. She is a good Jewish mother after all!

Now the tables are turned. Mary hands the authority to Jesus. Jesus becomes in her mind what he has always been, as he is described in the previous chapter of John’s Gospel, the very Word of God, the one without whom nothing was made that was made. Mary moves into the secondary role in the episode.

Mary the provider becomes Mary the recipient.

Mary the leader becomes Mary the follower.

Mary the protectress becomes Mary the onlooker, gazing upon her soon to be suffering son.

Mary prays and the action of God changes her. Mary is never quite the same after this episode in the Gospel.

When next you turn to Jesus in prayer beware! Prayer might not change God - it might just change you!


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