NATIONAL CELEBRATION OF THE GRAND FINALE OF THE MARIAN YEAR AND THE RE-CONSECRATION OF NIGERIA TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY
“‘Do Whatever He Tells You’ In Our Christian Life”
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, one of the particularly Catholic Christians’ characteristics is the serious respect and honour that we give to our mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary because she is the Mother of God.
Before it now becomes a beautiful ornament to be worn around the neck by almost everybody, the first thought of anybody who sees a person holding or wearing the rosary is that the person must be a Catholic Christian. But anyway the universality of the usage of the rosary now, whether as an ornament or amulet or charm, is a good thing because it goes to highlight the inevitability of the recognition of our Mother Mary as the Mother of Jesus and therefore the Mother of God.
When God has decided on what he wants the world to do, what he wants his creature to accomplish, even the most reluctant and the person who refuses most vehemently, would be the first to accomplish the task. In other words, the person’s double negative would be turn into positive by God. You can refer to St. Paul and you can refer to Jonah and see how this plays out. If you would not honour the Blessed Virgin Mary willingly, you will intentionally wear her image around your neck for any number of reasons which you can adduce. At the end, all of them would have been because she is the mother of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Chris who is God.
Now, let us sketchily reconstruct the context in which our topic today appears and let us turn it into a template for use whenever we are in any circumstance of great need or near embarrassment.
In the days of Jesus, wedding celebrations could last for over a week and food, drink and entertainment had to be provided for all the guests by the bridegroom. It would be a disgrace to the family if there was not plenty throughout the time of the celebration.
Sometime, during such festivities in Cana in Galilee, they ran out of wine too soon, (John 2:3a). This doesn’t sound like much of a problem to us, but to the Jews, it could be ruinous! First, it was a matter of honour. The bridegroom was responsible for providing adequate supplies. If something ran out before the party was concluded, it simply meant that he hadn’t planned well and hadn’t provided for all of his guests. Secondly, to run out of wine would cause public embarrassment for the groom and his family. Thirdly, in some instances, the offending family could even be fined. Therefore, this was a problem of considerable size to these people.
All these were happening at the celebration in which the Mother of Jesus, Jesus himself and his disciples were attending.
We have to learn immediately one permanent lesson, namely, that Life doesn’t always go as we had planned it! There are times when problems arise and troubles come our way. This is a common thing, (Job 14:1; John 16:33; Ecclesiastes 2:23) It is good to know that when our problems do come that we can take them to Jesus. Those all around us may see them as nothing, but Jesus understands our pain and feels our need, (Hebrews 4:15.)
Consider a similar circumstance when Christ and His Disciples were in the storm tossed boat, (Mark 4:36-41) and when the Disciples were alone in the storm tossed ship (John 6:16-21). In both instances, they felt Jesus was out of touch with their need. Both times they were wrong! Jesus knew their troubles and felt their need. He moved in on their problem and made a difference for them. He will do the same for us!
John’s Gospel 2:3-5 provides the Procedure. In this time of trouble, Mary shows us just what we need to do when troubles arise in our lives. She gives us 2 steps that we should always take in the troublesome times of our Christian life. First one: take the matter to Jesus and say: “they have no wine” and the second and I think the more important one: “Do whatever He tells you”.
Now, the real point of the story and which is the matter that highlights, very vividly, the intercessory role of the Blessed Mother is the fact that she anticipates the needs, she appropriates the needs and makes them her concern and she presents the needs at the feet of the one whom she alone is herself, more sure than any other person in the whole world, that He would be able and willing to solve the problem, provided that the person who has the need does the thing that the Benefactor would ask him/her to do. The absolute certainty that Mary has that her Son would do what she asks Him to do is the foundation of the confidence that anybody has or should have in the intercessory power of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Once she has told him that they have no wine, she did not wait to consider the pleas of “not yet” that her Son was making. The rest of the information and instruction which would only have been with the movement of the eyes might have included things like: “It might not have been your time, my dear Son, but the time of their need is now. So go ahead my and do something for them biko”. And when she opens her mouth next, it was to give instruction to the beneficiaries about what they need to contribute for the miracle to take place. And that is: “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).
So today we hear this Mary’s very last words in Scripture: “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). This is an invitation for us to submit to Christ in all aspects of our life. Her maternal intercession always covers all our needs even before we present them to the Lord. As she pleaded on behalf of the newly married couple at Cana, so she continues to make heavenly intercessions for the needs of her children here on earth. By telling Jesus: “They have no wine,” Mary is expecting a miraculous solution, since Jesus had no wine reserves anywhere. Her faith in her Son pays off as Jesus, recognizing his Mother’s faith and courage, tells the attendants to fill jars with water. They did as they were told and the wine supply was miraculously replenished. Thus, their obedience also helped to secure the miracle. Mary’s command to do whatever her Son tells us parallels the command given by Pharaoh to the Egyptians who cried out to him for food: “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you” (Gen. 41:55). Just as Joseph provided food in plenty to the Egyptians in a time of famine, so Jesus provides wine in plenty for the guests at a time of great need.
This knowledge that the doing of what Jesus tells us to do is the only way to receive a miracle is probably why Jesus wondered why people would be calling Him Lord, Lord and yet do not do what he says (cf. Matt 7:26; Luke 6:46). It is also probably why St James felt that it would be mere foolery to have to listen to what God says and yet not do what the words command (cf. James 1:22-24).
Mary’s relationship with her divine Son is the central point which we need to keep in mind as the source of all her unique power and privileges. Everything flows from Christ. This means that what the faith teaches about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ. So, what we believe about Mary sheds light on our faith in Christ. The unique role of the Blessed Virgin in our salvation, is central here. The basis of our belief is that Mary was Christ’s mother, and that, as Christ is God, so Mary is rightly called ‘Mother of God.’ It is important to stress that this is the basis for all of Mary’s power and honour and privileges. If she had not been the Mother of the Redeemer, but merely the mother of perhaps a very big man, she would not have had any real role in our salvation. If she had no role in our salvation, she would have no place in our devotion.
It is because Mary is the Mother of God that she was given the unique gift of her own Immaculate Conception. This was an unmerited gift from God, made possible by the infinite merits of Christ. Through the merits of Christ, Mary was preserved from original sin. Whereas we, and all other Christians, are cleansed from sin after our physical birth, Mary was preserved from sin in advance of her birth. The redeeming work of Christ was not restricted in time to people living after the crucifixion. The redemption also stretches back in time. The merits won on Calvary were applied back to the Mother of Jesus from the first moment of her existence. This was fitting, because as Mother of the Saviour she could never be at enmity with God, which she would have been if she had not been kept free from original sin.
This is the origin and the miracle of the intercession our Blessed Mother Mary. All our requests are channelled through Jesus Christ our Lord. But this Christ our Lord is the son of a human person and that person is Mary. Mary is the only woman in the past, present and future of the whole world who can face Jesus Christ and address him as “My Son”. And Jesus Christ has such filial affection for his mother that he cannot refuse her anything she asks him to do for her or for anybody. That is why all prayers through the Blessed Virgin Mary are so efficacious. That is also why all Marian Societies enjoy special attention our Mother Mary. All the requests from these Marian societies, and all requests and prayers through the intercession of Mary, she promptly brings to the notice of her son who immediately answers.
Take note very well, however, that the devil in its shrewdness knows about the power of the intercession our Blessed Mother Mary. So the devil uses its tricks of discouragement to make people lose both focus and fervour in reciting the Rosary, in belonging to the approved Marian Societies like Legion of Mary, Block Rosary, Mary League, Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary, Blue Army of our Lady of Fatima and so on. It knows that if you persist and persevere in them, you will conquer its kingdom. So try to tell the devil that it is a liar by praying the Rosary fervently and by being faithful to it. Join and remain faithful in some Marian Societies and watch the kingdom of Satan crumble. Encourage the young children in Block Rosary to pray the Rosary and other prayers through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This one is particularly efficacious because in it, God combines two elements, namely, the innocence of children and the irresistible plea from his mother Mary to accomplish wonders.
It is like the noise coming from the market place. What is it that causes all the noise in the market? Essentially there are two statements that cause all the noise that you hear in the Market. It is either about “I can’t sell it at that prize” or “I can’t buy it at such prize”. That is all.
When we have said all we can about the Blessed Virgin Mary; when we invoke her under the various titles, like “Our Lady Mother of Perpetual Help, Our Lady Queen of Nigeria, Our Lady of Fatima or any of the fifty three titles in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary; when we organize groups under her name, like the “Legion of Mary, Blue Army of our Lady of Fatima”; when we append the name Mary to names of persons and institutions, like “Mary-Vianney”, “Mary-Paul, or Mary-Michael”, like “St. Mary’s Hospital, St. Mary-Major”; we are just making the following wonderful affirmations:
- Mary is the Mother of Jesus who is God and therefore, Mary is the Mother of God.
- Mary is able to, unfailingly obtain whatever grace or favour she asks from her Divine Son.
- Consequent upon these affirmations, we are absolutely certain that whatever requests we make to Jesus through his Mother Mary, necessarily receives a positive reply.
This is what the noise coming from all over the world about the Blessed Virgin Mary is all about. Fortunately, this is about the most important noise we can ever make and which we are even enabled to make, again, through the intercession of the same Blessed Virgin Mary.
Now, apart from the recitation of the Rosary which is about the most important and popular devotional prayers in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I have two other prayers that I want to prescribe to everybody and which we must add to the content of the noise we make with regard to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The first one is the “MEMORARE”. I ask all of you to stand and join me in making that joyful noise together:
REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
The second one is “We Fly to your Protection”:
We fly to thy protection, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.
Those of us who fly to her patronage must continually pray that she may not despise our petitions in our necessities but that she may, in her clemency, graciously hear and answer us. Amen.
+ Most Rev. Dr. Michael O. Elue,
Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Issele-Uku, NIGERIA.
13th October, 2017.