“The message of the Madonna, which continued to spread from Lourdes, recalled the words of Jesus which he announced at the beginning of his public ministry: convert and believe in the Gospel, pray and do penance.” ~ Pope Benedict XVI
Today our Church pauses to commemorate the divine apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes. Appearing to the fourteen-year-old Marie Bernadette Soubirous on February 11, 1858, our Blessed Mother would reveal in greater detail her special role her children’s healing, conversion, and salvation story.
As our Eternal Mother, Mary always seeks to nurture us. She does so by way of her example, through her grace, and through her abundant and overflowing love for each and every one of her precious children. After her maiden appearance, Mary would reappear to the young Bernadette 17 more times in the hollow of the rock at Lourdes, doing so out of a pristine and nurturing love that only the spotless Mother of Jesus could possess and lavish upon her children. Countless believers have made the pilgrimage to Lourdes, seeking healing of both the physical and spiritual variety. Many remarkable conversions have taken place there.
In today’s Gospel (John 2:1-12) we return to the Wedding Feast at Cana, where our Blessed Mother delivers a timely and eternal message, not only to the wine steward who is faced with the embarrassing conundrum of a revelrous wedding party and a cellar full of empty wineskins, but to you and I as well.
“Do whatever he tells you” Mary instructs the banquet servants immediately after informing Jesus that they were out of wine, words that would ultimately be her last as recorded in Scripture, a parting message for the ages to all who possess the wisdom and courage to heed them.
.....“Do whatever he tells you.”
But these were Mary’s parting words in only a biblically historical content. Our Lady is with us always, in our sorrows and in our joys, our moments of spiritual enlightenment and in the arid moments of desolation, spiritual dryness and apparent abandonment. When pressed into service by his Mother at the Wedding Feast, Jesus immediately takes action, famously turning the water into wine. He hears his Mother’s plea and he responds. He knows no other way. He cannot deny his Mother.
On May 4th, 1957, Saint Josemaria delivered a homily in which he reflected upon this idea of seeking Jesus through Mary. It would later be published and titled Christ Is Passing By. In his homily, he had this to say with regard to the Wedding Feast at Cana:
“Our Lady was a guest at one of those noisy country weddings attended by crowds of people from many different villages. But she was the only one who noticed the wine was running out. Don’t these scenes from Christ’s life seem familiar to us? The greatness of God lives at the level of ordinary things. It is natural for a woman, a housewife, to notice something was lacking, to look after the little things which make life pleasant. And that is how Mary acted. Notice also that it is John who tells the story of Cana. He is the only evangelist who has recorded this example of our mother’s concern for us. Saint John wants us to remember that Mary was present at the beginning of the public life of our Lord. He alone has appreciated the importance of that fact. Jesus knew to whom he was entrusting his Mother - to a disciple who had learned to understand and love her as his own mother.”
Saint Josemaria goes on to say that “the Catholic Faith sees Mary as a sign of God’s special love. God calls us his friends; his grace acts in us, winning us from sin, enabling us to reflect in some way the features of Christ, even though we are still wretched dirt. We are not stranded people whom God has promised to save. His salvation is already at work in us. In our relationship to God, we are not blind men yearning for light and crying in anguished darkness. We are children who know our Father loves us.”
We must always look for ways to encounter Jesus through Mary. It happens over time, but seeking to imitate Mary’s obedience, humility and prayerfulness while encountering her intimately through the Rosary and other Marian Devotions are sacred devotions is something that each of us can incorporate into our lives immediately.
“Blessed are those who abandon themselves into our Lady’s hands. Their names are written in the Book of Life.” ~ St. Bonaventure
Jeanne Yursik on February 11, 2021:
Beautiful thoughts on what Mary means to all of us. My only disappointment is that nothing was mentioned of St. Bernadette....2/11 used to be called her Feast Day....not sure when it was changed to Our Lady of Lourdes (which is also very fitting). But Bernadette was a beautiful example of nearly perfect humility and she was a mere child. I must admit a bit of bias here as she is whom I chose for my Confirmation Saint name many years ago. I wear her medal proudly and pray for that kind of humility every day. Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us. St. Bernadette, pray for us. Amen!