Saturday, January 16, 2010

Seriously merry

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Wedding at Cana
(John 2:1-11)

After commenting on the immortality of the human soul in "The Weight of Glory", C.S. Lewis says:

"This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously."

The very first time I read St John's account of the Wedding at Cana (Jn 2:1-11), I was quite mystified at Jesus' response to the concern of mother Mary that the wine has run out:
“Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”
It becomes clear however, that Mary's subsequent actions did not regard Jesus' response as a refusal, proven by the fact of her immediate direction to the servants: "Do whatever he tells you."

From the outset, Mary had been aware that the child Jesus was destined for a divine plan. At the earliest times of her blessed motherhood, Mary kept all the sayings and doings of Jesus in her heart (Lk 2:15; 2:51). As Jesus was already "about 30 years old" (Lk 3:23) when he began his public ministry, we can be certain that the special and private bond within the Holy Family enriched and deepened throughout the years prior to Jesus' public ministry,
at the time when "Jesus advanced in wisdom, age and favor before God and man." (Lk 2:52)

When the wine ran out, Mary understood that Jesus would favorably respond to her concern, and Jesus understood likewise, inspite of his initial seeming words to the contrary. There is something special that exists between Jesus and mother Mary, and there are simply so many things in there that are not directly conveyed by the printed word. Now we realize that the Wedding at Cana is a testament to Mother Mary's powerful intercession, in as much as we also understand that Jesus accorded so much love and honor to his mother. And that is why we love and honor Mary likewise. That is also why, all the more, we have much reason to be seriously merry.

Please pass the wine.

5 comments: said...

Willy J

You are a wise man because you let your heart ignore bad translations. There are two ways a translator can translate a passage: word for word / or sense for sense. Almost all translations of Cana at this point of Jesus answering Mary were not word for word (what to me and to thee...where they are united as a unit) but the translations were done sense for sense (how does your concern affect me...which is not the above original words as you can see).

Most translations of Jesus' words to Mary make Him sound rude because most translations use this sense for sense translation and probably based on an awful interpretation of this passage by Augustine who had mom problems (he disobeyed her for years). Augustine saw Christ being aloof here in Cana because Augustine was aloof from Monica for 10 years.

Translators Catholic and Protestant admired him and so we get these awful translation for the last 1000 years and they all post date Augustine.

It did much research on it but to cut to the chase: Mary knew at Cana that if Christ went public, He might be killed and she did not know how soon He would be killed. So she feared asking Him for the miracle at Cana and it was on her face as she walked toward Him and asked and He saw it on her face and so he uses an idiom that He would have discussed with her when they were both talking about 2 Kings just days before and the idiom is "what to me and to you".
He was reassuring her that He would not be killed that soon.
You Willy are one of few people who saw this through a glass darkly so to speak without knowing the translation problems.

And you are right: Mary hears an immediate yes where Augustine heard aloofness and ambiguity. And she hears an immediate yes because the idiom which the translations render invisible "what to me and to thee" is in context one of unity. Christ sees Mary's fear on her face and says in effect: this is nothing to either of us...I will not be killed next week...we have time together before that.

WillyJ said...

Well, that figures. I felt there was something amiss..anyway, I'm sure the facial expressions, the body language and the "connect" can not be adequately depicted in words. Thanks for that.


bill bannon said...

Willy J
My comment about 2 Kings was too brief. I wrote a book on such things but never published it because as a book, I was treating too many things and it needed what book publishers call a book doctor.
Actually mine needed a team of book surgeons...:)... and since I have no patience for submitting letters to publishers for decades, I let it go but here is a slice that will lead you to what Mary and Christ may well have discussed
just prior to Cana:

If Mary and Christ had discussed this Biblical book prior to Cana by a few days, Christ was then not just speaking the phrase, “what to me and to you”, to Mary but also alluding to it as a private reference between them as to Elisha’s use of it in 2 Kings 3:13 (Septuagint version…4 Kings 3:13); and, in which passage, Elisha likewise was acquiescing to a request for a liquid from three kings and says literally in the Septuagint…”what to me and to you.” He then miraculously provides the water in catch basins which water however looks “like blood” from a distance to the enemy Moabites
...a fitting prediction of what was to happen at Cana where the water became red wine which stands for Christ’s blood.
Christ then would be signaling to Mary that the water/blood of the Elisha incident, which they had recently discussed in private, was about to happen here at Cana and He was signaling this by using Elisha’s response which He and Mary would have discussed previously.

Most Bibles again translate the Kings passage wrong too but in the Vulgate, Jerome has it word for word in the Vulgate in Latin: dixit autem Heliseus ad regem Israhel quid mihi et tibi (what to me and to you) est vade

WillyJ said...

Thanks again. Could you point to the reference/s where this prior discussion (on 2 Kings) between Jesus and his mother took place? said...

I am only inferring it from the textual evidence. It can never be proven since there is no such text as one showing Christ teaching Mary. But I am imagining the Jewish culture where the Scriptures are what people discussed most if the three of them were all holy and Jews like Mary, Joseph and Christ within a home every night for decades. No books (printing press was 1500 years later). What do three Holy people do then? They talk and what did Christ talk about to the men on the way to Emmaus? He talked about what was hidden about Him in the Old Testament so that after He was gone one of them said in Luke 24:32: "Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?"
Augustine had noted that about the hidden scriptures about Christ that they were very confirming within a person precisely because at first they were hidden. The Kings passage predicts in a hidden manner the Cana event with: a. a request for liquid; b. the phrase "what to me and to thee"; and c. water in both cases taking on red symbolizing His blood.
So Christ would have discussed the hidden prophecies with Mary and Joseph so that they would know what Simeon meant when he had said to Mary Luke 2:34... " "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
We see Christ as dysfunctional in communication skills if we think He never then tried to teach Mary from the scriptures in that home what this sword would be that would pierce her; at least in general principles such as He must die for all people and that would come from His being rejected by His own people once He became famous in the area and to the leaders of the Jews.