The Voice of Thy Salutation

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And when the ark of the Lord was come into the city of David,
Michol the daughter of Saul, looking out through a window,
saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord.
2 Samuel 6, 16

And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come
to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded
in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Luke 1, 43-44
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Grace originates from God the Father and is produced for us by the merits of God the Son through his passion, death, and resurrection. The distribution of divine grace is appropriated to God the Holy Spirit. By her divine motherhood and mystical union with the Holy Spirit as His chaste spouse, the Blessed Virgin Mary has acquired a universal maternal role in the dispensation of all actual graces in collaboration with the third Person of the Holy Trinity. Since it was through Mary’s salutary co-operation with divine grace in faith and love that the living Font of all grace came into the world by the power of the Holy Spirit, her Son willed to continue coming to us through his most Blessed Mother’s mediation (Jn 2:2-8), and he continues to reach out to us through her until the end of this age (Jn 19:26-27).

Vatican 2 Council explains:

This maternity of Mary in the order of grace began with the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross and lasts until the eternal fulfilment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and cultics, until they are led into the happiness of their true home. Therefore, the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix. This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator. – Lumen Gentium, 62

Before we see how the Virgin Mary is designated Mediatrix of Grace, it’s a good idea to clear up any misunderstanding that might arise with respect to Christ’s majestic stateliness of being the “one mediator between God and man.” Protestants who object to this Catholic Marian doctrine do so because they think it “takes away from or adds to the dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator.” To support their objection, they normally quote in isolation 1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.”

However, St. Paul doesn’t mean to say that Jesus is our “one and only” mediator in the entire economy of salvation. If this were his intention, he would have chosen the Greek word monos instead of heis. By using heis, the apostle means there is “one and the same mediator between God and mankind.” Jesus is exclusively the one mediator for both the Jews and the Gentiles in “uniqueness,” but in “a sameness of function” which the word heis denotes. This is obviously what Paul means, considering what he writes in the four preceding verses: ‘I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people… This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim 2:1-4). By no means are baptized Christians totally passive in the divine work of salvation.​

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If, then, we were to ask Paul, the father of the theology of human mediation, how it is that the Blessed Virgin Mary is a mediator (mediatrix), he would reply by saying that she intercedes for us in the name of her divine Son by making petitions and prayerful intercessions in Heaven. And he would surely underscore the fact that she isn’t our Mediatrix of Grace by having given herself as “a ransom for all people” through the outpouring of her blood (1 Tim 2:6). For the apostle, Mary would be a factual mediator, not unlike himself and Abraham, who intercedes for us by participating in the principal mediation of her divine Son in and through his merits, as all baptized Christians can do as adopted sons and daughters of God; only the mother of our Lord holds a pre-eminent place in the order of grace because of her moral participation in the hypostatic order of Christ’s incarnation and his work of redemption.

Hence, Vatican 2 has made it clear that Christ is the only one mediator as such by divine nature. He alone has merited the initial grace of justification and forgiveness by being both God and man in his work of redemption (Eph 2:8-9). And he alone has produced all the actual graces (faith, hope, charity, etc.) we can now receive and minister by his passion and death. What he alone has merited for us is the ability to merit an increase of grace and charity for ourselves and others for our growth in sanctification or justification. God hears the prayers of the righteous (Jas 5:17). Christ alone has made this possible for us by his unique mediation, in and through which we become adopted children of God who partake of his divine nature and are a kingdom of priests to serve our God (1 Pet 2:5; 2 Pet 1:4). Indeed, God has prepared us to do good works in His grace in view of the merits of Christ, and these good works include spiritual works of mercy, such as offering our prayers for others and making personal sacrifices for the salvation of souls (Eph 2:10).

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Moreover, there is only one mediator, which is Christ, whose sacrificial work is necessary if mankind is to be redeemed and reconciled with God. Without Christ, there can be no salvation in the Divine plan. Although God has willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary should participate in His plan of salvation, her involvement and contribution aren’t necessary; since she cannot merit grace for anyone, including herself, in strict justice, but only by right of friendship, if this is what God wills. What Mary can merit by her prayerful mediation is sufficient insofar how God has ordered her moral participation in and through her Son’s merits, without which the reward of eternal life couldn’t be produced at all, not by the Virgin Mary or any saint.

Christ’s mediation is more than sufficient and necessary for the forgiveness of sins and our initial justification. Still, God has obligated himself to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary’s merits in His love and mercy. But what she can merit is only an increase in sanctification and charity needed for the attainment of salvation, a gift and a reward which Christ alone has produced for mankind. Our Lord and Saviour does not depend on anyone in what he alone has merited for mankind (justification and forgiveness), though he desires that all the members of his mystical body participate with him in his mediation or dispensation of grace, now that he alone has merited grace for them. To be sure, we read in 1 Peter 4:10: “As every man hath received grace, ministering the same one to another: as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

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The Protestant doctrine of sola Christo (Christ alone) is originally a Catholic doctrine, but in Protestantism it has been grossly exaggerated. What follows is that all baptized Christians are merely passive spectators in God’s plan of salvation and dispensation of grace. However, the Blessed Virgin Mary was no coerced on-looker, when she declared: “Let it be done to me, according to thy word” (Lk 1:38). By her Fiat or free consent, she brought the living Font of all grace into the world so that “all might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). God honoured her free will pending the Incarnation.

Still, the universal Magisterium of the Catholic Church reminds us that Mary is only a human creature. If God has chosen her to be our Mediatrix, it is strictly because she freely consented to be the mother of our Lord and Saviour and intimately associate herself with him in his redemptive work. Meanwhile, what she has and can merit for us is in co-operation with her Son and participation in his merits, but not in co-ordination with them. Thus, we must always remember that Mary’s association with her Son in his saving work receives its raison d’être in the free decision of the Father. Mary must not be counted together with her divine Son in his unique mediation, which alone is necessary for our redemption and without which her factual mediation for an increase in sanctification or justification would be non-existent. Mary’s whole ability to do anything in God’s plan comes entirely from her Son, the principle of all human merit in his sacred humanity and the divine source of all saving grace.

Finally, I should point out that the term Mediatrix of all Grace refers to all actual or signal graces that are needed for effecting our increase in sanctification and the attainment of eternal life with God (2 Cor 2:15; 4:16; Col 3:10, etc.). These include the actual graces of faith, hope, charity, repentance, chastity, and final perseverance, without which we cannot reap the fruits of Christ’s saving work. On an individual basis, the baptized are in the process of “being saved” and “renewed” daily. The justification of the person isn’t a one-time and completed event. So, Catholics petition Mary for these helping graces when, for example, they recite the Rosary. These graces, of course, do not include the initial grace of justification and forgiveness for our sanctification which has been merited and produced by Christ alone. Thus, now that there should be no misunderstanding, and hopefully no objections, let us proceed with our topic.

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There is Mary, Mediatrix and Dispensatrix of grace. These titles signify that, by God’s special ordinance, all the graces merited by Christ for our salvation are conferred and distributed through the actual mediation of his mother. These are the actual graces which Christ pours out to us through the Holy Spirit for an increase in our sanctification or justification by Mary’s moral influence with her divine Son. Mary’s association with her divine Son is moral in nature. Our Blessed Lady co-operates with him by her maternal prayerful intercession in applying saving grace to all people in spiritual need according to God’s will. Mary co-operated in the same way when she, in charity and the state of grace, freely consented to be the mother of our Lord for the redemption of mankind in the shadow of the Cross on Calvary (Lk 2:34-35).​

The Virgin Mary’s co-operation describes what Catholic theologians call “subjective redemption.” Unless we freely co-operate with the graces God mercifully wills to give us for our sanctification, we have no hope of being saved, for sanctification is supernatural life with God. The Holy Spirit operates through Mary, our mediary and chief steward of grace, just as He operates through the seven Sacraments in the conferral of actual graces and sanctifying grace. Unlike Mary, however, the sacraments are physical instruments that communicate grace as opposed to a moral influence for its conferral.

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Sacramental grace is communicated by the valid and fruitful reception of any of the seven sacraments. A distinctive sacramental grace is imparted by each of the sacraments in accord with their respective purpose in the supernatural life of the soul. The actual graces given upon the reception of the sacraments efficaciously sanctify the soul making it just. The faithful, however, do not receive graces that are physically channelled through supernaturally transformed properties naturally intrinsic to Mary, as they are conferred by the application of the sacramental water of baptism or the oil of chrismation. On the contrary, the graces that they receive through her mediation are a share in those graces which she herself has received from the Holy Spirit without making any physical contact with her.​

Sanctifying grace is the supernatural state of being by the efficacious infusion of God’s grace which permeates the soul. Sanctifying grace is a quality of the soul effected by the activity of the Holy Spirit through His efficacious actual graces. If, then, one should happen to receive an actual grace by touching the hem of Mary’s mantle, that grace would be contained in this sacramental garment as a supernatural healing property of it and not in Mary herself, though she would undoubtedly be endowed with that same grace which effects the supernatural quality of her soul through the working of the Holy Spirit. In the same way, many people were cured of their illnesses and liberated from demonic oppression or possession simply by touching the handkerchiefs that were used by Paul to wipe sweat from his body and the aprons he wore (Acts 19:12).

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When we place our faith in the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the other hand, we are essentially placing our faith in her divine Son who has granted his mother the maternal prerogative of morally channelling the dispensation of his grace, so that we may continue to abide in his love by faithfully observing all his commandments (Jn 15:9-10). Christ’s redemptive work in our souls continues from the time we are baptized and through our pilgrimage of faith, as we grow in spiritual perfection to attain our salvation by bearing fruit and persevering in grace to the end (Col 1:11-12; 3:9-10). The grace of final perseverance is one of the many actual graces we can receive through the intercessory prayers of our loving Blessed Mother by her supernatural merits, if only we humbly implore her intercession as her Son desires (Prov 15:29; Jas 5:17).​

We have testimony from early sacred Tradition:

“The Word will become flesh, and the Son of God the son of man –
the Pure One opening purely
that pure womb, which generates men unto God.”
– St. Irenaeus (A.D. 180-189)

“There is one who is called both a mother and a virgin.  And my joy is to call her by her name of the Church. Christ’s body she nurtures by the power (grace) of the Word; the people reborn, for whom the Lord on the Cross hung in agony, lovingly cradling as children, and wrapping them deep in the blood (justice) of the Godhead.”
– St. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 202)

Under your mercy we take refuge, O Mother of God.
Do not reject our supplications in necessity,
but deliver us from danger.”
– Sub Tuum Praesidium (c. A.D. 250)

“O Lady, cease not to watch over us; preserve and guard us under the wings of your compassion and mercy, for, after God, we have no hope but in you!”
– St. Ephraem of Syria (c. A.D. 361)

“True it is… the whole race of man on earth was born of Eve;
but in reality, it is from Mary that Life was truly born to the world, so that by giving birth to the Living One, Mary might also become the Mother of all the living.”
– St. Epiphanius (c. A.D. 374)

 “God has ordained that she (Mary) should assist us in everything.”
– St, Basil the Great (A.D. 379)

“It was through a man and woman that flesh was cast from Paradise; it was through a virgin that flesh was linked to God…
Eve is called mother of the human race, but Mary Mother of salvation.”
– St. Ambrose of Milan (A.D. 397)

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And the ark of the Lord abode in the house of Obededom
the Gethite three months: and the Lord blessed Obededom,
and all his household.
2 Samuel 6, 11

And Mary abode with her about three months;
and she returned to her own house.
Luke 1, 56
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John’s coming into the world to prepare mankind for the coming of the Messiah was foretold by a prophet who spoke of him as “A voice of one calling in the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God” (Isa 40:3). And another: “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty” (Mal 3:1). If John had been sanctified and justified by being made holy in his mother’s womb, making him more than a prophet, it would also have happened in anticipation of his ministry to administer or mediate the grace of justification and forgiveness through the sacrament. John baptized his followers in the Jordan River, which signifies the drowning of their old life in the flesh and their emergence out of the water of purification into a new life in the spirit by the foreseen merits of Christ.

The sanctifying grace that the infant John received in his mother’s womb originated from the Divine infant in Mary’s holy womb. But it was by the mediation of the mother that he was cleansed of original sin. The powerful influence which the mother of our Lord wielded resided in the voice of her salutation. It was through Mary’s mediation that the infant John entered communion with Jesus. In Heaven, the sweet sound of Mary’s prayers for her children never escapes the attention of her divine Son. With that same dynamic influence only a mother can possess over her son, the Blessed Mother petitions on behalf of all her children. David leaped and danced with joy in the presence of the Ark of the Old Covenant, as John the Baptist had in his mother’s womb in the presence of the Ark of the New Covenant, which in the personification of the Blessed Virgin Mary mediated God’s physical presence and grace on earth.

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When the Ark of the Covenant was carried in procession, it was accompanied by joyous singing and dancing, the playing of several musical instruments, and the wearing of religious vestments. The procession was an occasion for celebrating being blessed by God and receiving the grace of His faithful covenant (2 Sam 6:3). The Ark served as a sacred tabernacle in which were placed God’s written testimony (Torah), a jar of the manna that fell daily from heaven during the Israelites’ 40 years’ sojourn in the desert, and the budding priestly rod of Aaron. It was also associated with God’s dispensation of grace and His providential care. In the Battle of Jericho, for instance, the Ark was carried round the city’s walls seven times (figuratively the number of days God created the world) until they came tumbling down (Josh 6:11-17). ​

The Israelites bowed towards the Ark in profound veneration when it was carried in procession. And while it was kept in the Holy of Holies in the tent of meeting and three hundred years after its construction in the temple in Jerusalem, God’s chosen people would bow towards the sanctuaries there in which the Ark was placed, for where the Ark was, God’s manifesting presence could be felt. Likewise, Catholics venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary in whom dwelled the physical manifestation of God in the person of the Divine Word and Testimony made man, the eternal “High Priest in the order of Melchizedek,” and the “true manna come down from heaven.” When looking towards her, the presence of God incarnate is strongly felt, for His physical manifestation took place in the holy sanctuary of her womb within the holy temple of her body. Elizabeth felt the same way when Mary came to her home, which explains why she greeted her kinswoman deferentially.

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We meet our Lord Jesus Christ in his blessed mother Mary, as the ancient Hebrews met God when YHWH physically manifested Himself in the glory cloud (Shekinah) which descended on (“overshadowed”) the sanctuary and enveloped the Ark to be with them. Mary was overshadowed in a similar way by the Holy Spirit so that she would conceive the Son of God and he would physically dwell among his people (Ex 25:8; 40:34-35; Lk 1:35; Jn 1:14).

Gary G. Michuta (Making Sense of Mary: Grotto Press) cites Zechariah 2:10 to connect the verse with John 1:14. In the prophecy, God says, “I am coming to dwell among you.” The author informs us that the Greek word for “dwell” is kataskenoso, whose root word for “tent” or “tabernacle” is skene, viz., the portable tent or tabernacle that housed the Ark of the Covenant before Solomon built the Temple. In the Gospel of John (1:14), the Greek word for “dwelt” is eskenosen, which is derived from the same root word skene. So, the evangelist is literally saying, “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” This occurred when Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and conceived our Lord. God’s incarnated presence filled the temple of her body and the sanctuary of her womb in which He personally dwelled and filled with His glory as He had the Ark of the Covenant. Since Jesus comes to us through his blessed mother Mary, we can come to him only through her. As the living Ark of the New Covenant, our Blessed Mother mediates the graces we need to tear down the walls or barriers in our souls which separate and keep us from God and the life of grace.

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By Mary’s mediation, Jesus came to re-create the world and depose the Prince of darkness. The walls of his dominion in the world came crashing down through the mediation of our Lord’s mother by whom He physically manifested Himself and made His presence felt. The Virgin and Immaculate Mary carried in her pure womb the One who claimed, “The water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting” (Jn 4:14). Jesus was alluding to the supernatural life we receive through Baptism, the sanctifying grace and charity that raises us from spiritual death unto eternal life. This supernatural life of grace merited for us by the Son was made possible through the merciful and charitable mediation of our Blessed Mother, who brought the living Font of all saving grace into the world by the sacred tabernacle of her womb. The sound of Mary’s Fiat ascended to God’s heavenly throne sweeter than the fragrance of a burnt sacrificial offering: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to thy word” (Lk 1:38).

God instructed Moses to construct the Ark for mediating the divine theophany and God’s providential grace for His people, the two primary credibilia: God who is and God who saves. To inaugurate His New and everlasting covenant a millennium later, God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin who was espoused to a man named Joseph, and the virgin’s name was Mary (Lk 1:27). It was she who was blessed above all women by being drawn into the mystery of the hypostatic order of Christ’s incarnation and his redemptive work (Lk 1:42). God willed Mary’s mediation, that we must go to the Son through His mother. All should be accomplished by her intercession from the time she joyously gave her salutary consent to be the mother of the Lord to the time she sorrowfully stood beneath the Cross on Calvary to make temporal satisfaction to God for the sins of humanity – and beyond this climatic event in salvation history until the end of this age, during which period (the new exodus anticipated by the Jews) she hasn’t laid her saving office aside as our Queen Mother (Gebirah) and Advocatrix.

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Indeed, God decreed by His consequent will that “all good should come to us through the hands of Mary”. God gave us this Mediatrix by “His most merciful providence” (Cf. Pope Leo Xlll, Encyclical, Jucunda sempre). Our Lord and Saviour constituted her “Mother of Mercy, Queen and are most loving advocate, Mediatrix of His graces, Dispenser of His treasures” (Cf. Pope Pius Xll, Radio Message to Fatima). ‘When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at his right hand. “I have one small request to make of you,” she said. “Do not refuse me.” The king replied, “Make it, my mother; I will not refuse you”’ (1 Kgs 2:19-20).

Mary received her office of Queen Mother and Advocatrix from God. By being the royal mother of the King, whose genuine Davidic lineage is received from her, she is closely linked to Christ’s saving mysteries and the restoration of the Davidic kingdom as foretold by the prophets (Lk 1:31-33). As our maternal advocate, Mary offers our petitions to her Son for the graces we need to inherit the kingdom. By this title, we are not so much her subjects as we are her children, her being the mother of our Head and Body of which we are the members. By her life, the Blessed Virgin Mary personally relates to us as a genuine mother should. Mary is not just a metaphor. “She teaches us all the virtues; she gives us her Son, and with Him all the help that we need, for God has willed that we should have everything through Mary” (Cf. Pope Pius Xll, Encyclical, Mediator Dei).

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God said to the serpent: “I will put enmities between you and the woman, and between her seed and your seed; she will crush your head, as you lie in wait for her heel” (Gen 3:15). In the wake of the fall, of Adam and Eve, God foretold that He would designate Mary to be the universal Mediatrix to help repair and undo the fall of mankind in union with her Son. This was right after He chastised the serpent for having caused the fall by deceiving the virgin Eve in her innocence. The Virgin Mary was chosen “before all ages, prepared for Himself by the Most High” to be the “Reparatrix of the first parents, the giver of life to posterity” (Cf. Pope Pius lX, Apostolic Constitution, Ineffabilis Deus). At the beginning of creation, at the time of the fall which God foresaw, but permitted for the sake of a greater good, “Mary was set up as the pledge of restoration of peace (with God) and salvation” (Cf. Pope Leo Xlll, Encyclical, Augustissimae).

Mary is the Immaculate Mother of the Church who is at total enmity with the serpent by being without sin and standing ever-just before God as our pre-eminent patroness. In a universal capacity, our Blessed Mother serves to help repair the fall of mankind by giving her children a filial spirit through the graces they receive by her maternal intercession. Mother Mary desires nothing more than we cease to offend God and be reconciled to Him. She is there to teach us the docility she had as a servant of God. Mary calls us to supplicate her for the graces we need to humble ourselves before God and abide in His love. She truly is our heavenly mother, for through her maternal patronage we receive the divine life, if in a childlike spirit, we truly wish to turn towards God through her and be one with her divine offspring as from her regenerating womb at enmity with the serpent and its offspring: sinful humanity.

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The late Catholic Theologian, Father Garrigou-Lagrange (Mother of the Savior: Tan) tells us that true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is a sign of being predestined to glory. So, now that we Christians have been predestined to grace, being adopted sons and daughters of God by partaking of the divine life, we have a far greater chance of attaining our salvation and realizing our hope if we take recourse to the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Mother for the actual graces we need to persevere in faith. This is because her divine Son has ordered it this way. In Heaven, Mary prays for all God’s created children, but she is more attentive to the spiritual needs of those who are regenerated in Christ and humbly implore her intercession. It is for his mother’s sake more than ours that Jesus confers his graces on us from conversion through repentance to final perseverance (the principle of predilection).​

The prophet Elijah prayed fervently so that it might not rain, and so, it did not rain for three years and six months. Then when he prayed that God provide rain for the fruit harvest, his prayer was answered. This was because God heard the prayers of the righteous who aligned their will with His. If God could work great wonders such as these in response to the prayers of a prophet, what greater wonders must He perform in response to the prayers of His own mother. All Christians are exhorted to pray for the conversion of sinners that they might be healed and saved by the grace of God (Jas 5:13-19).​

​​In the order of grace, the Blessed Virgin Mary leads the way. By joining our prayers to God with hers and asking her to put in a good word for us, we can be confident that our Lord will shower down an abundance of grace on us from Heaven. This is because our Blessed Mother is holy with absolute perfection, as we continue to strive towards that heavenly perfection she has been graced with in our pilgrimage of faith on earth. Mary has attained her salvation in a singular way: the redemption and glorification of her body in anticipation of ours, and she has received her eternal reward for her labour in Christ’s vineyard, while there is no guarantee that we will attain ours. Thus, it’s imperative that we implore our Blessed Mother for her moral assistance, since she has an immeasurably far greater influence on her Son than we can ever hope to have in our fallen human state. Christ himself has designated his blessed mother Mary to be Our Lady of Perpetual Help. And so, by this title, the pilgrim Church implores her powerful maternal intercession in Heaven.

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The Blessed Virgin Mary is Mediatrix in the dispensation of grace – our Dispensatrix. She undertook the discharge of her maternal duties when the Church was born at Pentecost. She nurtured the infant Church in Jerusalem “by her holy example, her authoritative counsel, her sweet consolation, and her fruitful prayers”. She was in truth “the Mother of the Church and the Queen of Apostles” (Cf. Pope Leo Xlll, Encyclical, Ubri primum). Jesus entrusted the Church to his mother Mary’s tender care and the whole human race in the disciple John from the Cross (Jn 19:26-27). Mary received the redefinition of her motherhood while uniting her sorrow with the suffering of her beloved Son. She prayed more fervently for sinful humanity while she was smitten with great sorrow and a sword pierced her heart, all because of the perfect love she had for her Son who was unjustly “wounded for our transgressions.” Thus, God accepted her prayers as they were joined with her Son’s self-sacrifice for the expiation of our sins. Only by suffering for the sins of the world and dying to self together with Him could Mary become the mother of us all and reign with her Son the King of kings as our Queen Mother (2 Tim 2:11).

The sword that pierced our Great Lady’s heart or soul undid the vain and selfish pleasures Eve sought for herself while she presumed she could be like God apart from Him and before Him (Lk 2:35). By her sorrow, Mary repaired what Eve had wrought to God’s satisfaction. Jesus would not undo what Adam had wrought in his pride unless his mother stood at the foot the Cross and united her interior suffering with his suffering in accordance with the Father’s will. “From this community of will and suffering between Christ and Mary she merited to become most worthily the Reparatrix of the lost world and Dispensatrix of all the gifts that our Saviour purchased for us by His death and by His blood…By this union of sorrow and suffering which existed between the Mother and the Son, it has been allowed through the august Virgin to be the most powerful Mediatrix and advocate of the whole world with her divine Son” (Pope Pius X, Encyclical, Ad diem illum).

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Hence, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the “help of Christians” and the “refuge of mankind”. She is “triumphant in all battles” with the serpent as she makes war against it with her children in their spiritual warfare. In view of this cosmic battle between light and darkness, in which we are involved as descendants of Adam and Eve, we should humbly prostrate ourselves before the heavenly throne of our Queen Mother as her loyal suppliants, “confident that we shall obtain mercy and grace, the needed assistance and protection, during the calamities of these days…through the goodness of [her] motherly heart” (Cf. Pope Pius Xll, Radio Message).​

The Blessed Virgin Mary is intimately associated with our Lord Jesus forever with infinite power and majesty, in virtue of her royal dignity as a daughter of King David and the mother of Christ the King in the New Dispensation of all the saving graces which flow from the redemption gained for us by her royal Son. This is all made possible because “she gave us Jesus, Himself the source of grace”. Mary has been the mediatrix and dispensatrix of all graces since the Annunciation. Predestined to be the mother of our Lord, “she has been appointed the mediatrix of all the graces which look towards sanctification” in and through the merits of her divine Son (Cf. Pope Pius Xll, Apostolic Constitution, Sedes sepientiae).

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Our Lady of Lourdes

All baptized Christians, whether alive or dead are visible or invisible members of the mystical Body of Christ, which comprises both the heavenly and the pilgrim church on earth. We read in sacred Scripture that all members of Christ’s body are bound together by mutual love (Jn 13:34-35; Rom 12:10, 13:8; Gal 5:13; Eph 4:2, 16:1, etc.). The Head has composed his body so that all its members “may have the same care for one another” (1 Cor 12:25-27). Death doesn’t drive a wedge between the love that unites all the saints with each other in Christ’s mystical Body (Rom 8:38-39). Christians remain “in him” as living members of his body even after death (Eph 2:5-7). Thus, the saints who have passed from this world stay united with the saints who are still living on earth.

​​By being connected members of Christ’s Mystical Body, the saints in Heaven can express their love and concern for the pilgrim saints on earth as best they can, that is by prayer, which presupposes an awareness of the needs of these other beings and a communicative link with them. Meanwhile, they don’t rely on the physical sense of hearing or any form of natural mental awareness, existing in God’s eternal presence beside real time. The saints in Heaven have a direct vision of Christ and the Beatific Vision of God, which enables them to intuit what the Lord knows, and in this capacity, be like him in his glorified state and shared humanity (1 Jn 3:2). The saints in Heaven can intuit all that God knows about the saints or other beings on earth who are of concern, except what God knows about Himself. God reveals His knowledge to them, so that they can express their love for others on earth the best way they can. The saints in Heaven must know what concerns the spiritual welfare of the saints on earth, if they are to show concern for them. After all, we are all members of one mystical Body in Christ the Head and comprise the family of God as His adopted children.

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Our Lady of Fatima

We read in the Apocalypse that the prayers of the saints (in heaven and on earth) are presented to God by the angels and human saints in heaven. This reveals that all the saints intercede on our behalf before God, and it also shows that our prayers on earth are united with their prayers in heaven (Rev 5:8). Further, the martyred saints in Heaven are shown to be crying out to God to avenge their blood “on those who dwell on the earth” (Rev. 6:9-11; cf. Ps 35:1; 59:1-17; 139:19; Jer. 11:20; 15:15; 18:19; Zech.1:12-13). This vision indicates that the saints in Heaven are aware of what is happening to the pilgrim Church on earth in the wake of persecution. The saints are praying for their loved ones and all the other pilgrim members of the Body. What affects one member affects the other. These prayers for God’s judgement on the persecutors resemble the imprecatory prayers of the Jews in the Old Testament. In the same vein, God hears and answers the intercessory prayers of the saints in Heaven for those who are being treated unjustly on earth (Rev 8:1-5).

​​In the order of grace, therefore, the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession is maternally based on her care for Christ, who alone is both the Head and the Body. Since we who belong to her Son are members of his body, we too are sons and daughters of hers (Rev 12:5, 17). In Heaven, our Blessed Mother has assumed the royal office of Queen Mother, whose throne is situated in the heavenly court on the right of the throne of our Lord and King in the royal line of David (Lk 1:31-33). Being our Queen Mother or “Great Lady” (Gebirah), the Blessed Virgin Mary serves as our Mediatrix and Advocatrix. She prayerfully intercedes for us by presenting our petitions to her Son. Not unlike the other saints in Heaven, our Blessed Mother cares for us, but with a maternal love that immeasurably surpasses the love which all the other saints combined have in their concern for our spiritual well being. Thus, she constantly prays for us with a most perfect and solicitous maternal love, being aware of our individual spiritual needs.

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The pilgrim saints on earth have a far greater chance of growing and persevering in grace, and attaining their salvation, if they petition their Queen Mother daily in true filial devotion. Our Lord and King knows all our needs even before we present our petitions, either directly to him (but not without the other member’s awareness in his Body) or indirectly, by asking his Blessed Queen Mother and our Mother, the pre-eminent member of Christ’s Body, to put in a good word for us while we pray. This is because our Lord Jesus desires that we, stewards of grace, pray for one another in mutual, filial love as members of God’s family.

​Hence, of all such stewards who Peter and Paul speak of, the Blessed Virgin Mary is immeasurably the most influential member in God’s heavenly kingdom because of the supreme office she holds in her Son’s royal court. Her Son the King will not refuse her. By seeking God’s grace through Mary, the pilgrim saints on earth will surely receive it. By petitioning the King through his Blessed Queen Mother, they will surely receive her loving maternal patronage which pleases God, who for her sake more than anyone else’s, who lacks her spiritual perfection, shall dispense His grace wherever it is wanting in a human soul.

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May he send you help from the sanctuary,
and give you support from Zion.
Psalm 20, 2
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Salve Regina!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They Have No Wine

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In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen…
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
and all the hills will flow with it.
Amos 9, 11, 13

And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine…
and all the stream beds of Judah shall flow with water;
and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord.
Joel 3, 1

AND the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come. His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye. Now there were set there six water-pots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus saith to them: Fill the water-pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water; the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, And saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But thou hast kept the good wine until now. And saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But thou hast kept the good wine until now.
John 2, 1-11
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Catholics profess Jesus Christ to be “the one Mediator between God and man” (1 Tim. 2:5), by which St. Paul means He is the one who has redeemed the world and has reconciled all humanity to God by serving as a ransom for sin which was paid through the outpouring of his most precious blood (2:6). However, our Lord’s principal mediation in his humanity does not preclude the mediation or intercession of the faithful in and through His merits by prayer and sacrifice “so that everyone might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1-4).

In other words, the apostle has no intention of emphasizing that Jesus is the “one and only mediator” in the economy of salvation. The Christian faithful are indeed called to participate in our Lord’s mediation as active and living members of His Mystical Body who partake of the divine life (1 Pet. 2:5; 2 Pet. 1:3-4). This prerogative is conferred on these members by right of adoption as sons and daughters of God, who participate in Christ’s divine nature; since it is in his humanity – not divinity – that Christ as Head of His Mystical Body intercedes for us all before the Father as both eternal High Priest and sacrificial victim. The Letter to the Hebrews best describes how it is our chief High Priest mediates or intercedes for us continuously in the heavenly sanctuary “not made by human hands” in perpetuation of his sacrifice on Calvary, pre-presented in the sacrificial meal of the New Passover at the Last Supper and re-presented as a visible sign in the unbloody holy sacrifice of the Mass in expiation for our daily sins.

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Exegete Manuel Miguens has pointed out that translated from the Greek v.5 should read: “There is one and the same God for all, and there is one and the same mediator for all.” In other words, The Father’s merciful love and the Son’s obedient act of atonement are for both Jew and Gentile alike. In v.5, the Greek word for “one” is heis (εἷς) which denotes “a sameness of function, commonality, or universality.” If Paul had meant that numerically there is only one mediator in the whole economy of salvation, he would have chosen the word monos (μόνος) instead, for it “signifies ‘only’ in the sense of exclusive uniqueness,” but not in a “sameness of function.”

So, Paul isn’t saying that Jesus is the one and only mediator in the economy of salvation. Rather, he means Jesus is the one principal or universal mediator between God and man for both Jew and Gentile alike by having ransomed all humanity from sin and death. Jesus intercedes for us before God in a way no human creature can ever do by being equal to the Father in his divine nature. We, on the other hand, are called by our baptism to intercede for others, but in a different and subordinate capacity as participants in Christ’s principal mediation in and through his merits being members of his Mystical Body.

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The covenantal mediation of Moses in the Old Dispensation is fulfilled in Christ who has established the New Covenant by the outpouring of his blood in the Paschal mystery. This is what is unique about Christ’s mediation which is necessary for the forgiveness of sins. All baptized Christians, however, may participate in it in and through our Lord’s merits, but not necessarily. God has graciously called them to have a sufficient share in his sacrificial act of love and dispensation of grace as members of His Son’s Mystical Body and “fellow workers with God” (1 Cor. 3:9).​

​Hence, Jesus is the one principal Mediator between God and man in a singular and necessary way, but he is not the one and only mediator per se in the Divine plan of salvation. As members of a royal priesthood, in and through the merits of Christ, all baptized Christians can sufficiently participate in their Lord’s principal mediation in accord with the function of being priests (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10). They can intercede for others by their prayers and acts of personal sacrifice. And by doing so, they can congruously merit actual graces for others so that they might be saved. In his gospel narrative of the Wedding Feast at Cana, John presents Mary, the mother of our Lord, as such a factual mediator who participates in the mediation of her divine Son and the dispensation of his grace.

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St. John’s theology has been described as deeper than that of the authors of the Synoptic Gospels, which explains why his gospel has much more of a mystical flavour to it. In his narrative of the wedding feast, he allegorically characterizes Mary as the universal mediatrix of grace who is associated with her Son in his saving work. Throughout Scripture, grapes or any fruit of the vine represent God’s favour towards His children and spiritual regeneration. Being deprived of grapes symbolizes having fallen from God’s grace and the loss of the true happiness which can only be attained by living a life wherein God rules in the soul. The absence of grapes in the vineyard after they have been gleaned at the harvest signify the absence of grace and holiness in the souls of those who have reached spiritual ruin by rejecting God and replacing Him with false idols.​

​Spiritual famine is the result of losing one’s faith (steadfast love and trust) in God by falling prey to the machinations of the devil whose purpose is to plunder the soul of all its grace without which it cannot partake of the divine life. In the words of the prophet Micah (7:1): “Woe is me! For I have become as when the summer fruit has been gathered, as when the grapes have been gleaned; there is no cluster to eat, no first-ripe fig that my soul desires.” And Obadiah (1:5): “If thieves came to you, if plunderers came by night – would they not steal only enough for themselves? If grape gatherers came to you, would they not leave gleanings.

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Deprived of grace, the soul suffers nothing but calamity and misery, pending its destruction. Divine grace gladdens the heart and cheers the soul, since God’s love showers it with His blessings. God’s grace purifies and refreshes the soul by removing all stains of darkness which may cause unhappiness and despair. Divine grace invigorates the soul and sustains its strength by nourishing it with true happiness and real peace, albeit the trials and tribulations one may have to experience in this world. The Psalmist affirms: “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart” (Ps. 104:14-15).​

​Grace enables us to bear more fruit as we grow in holiness and righteousness. Without grace, the soul cannot enjoy eternal life with God who is the true source of our happiness and lasting inner peace. In allusion to God’s chosen people, the Israelites, Jeremiah assures us of how important it is for us to persevere in faith and be restored to God’s grace each time we fall into grave sin, if we hope to reap all the Divine blessings: “Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant and enjoy the fruit.” (31:5). The exile of the ancient Hebrews evokes the fallen state of the entire human race because of original sin and its need to be reconciled with God and restored to the life of grace through the blood (sacrificial wine) of the Cross.

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You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace
that was given to me for your benefit.
Ephesians 2, 3

Jesus uses a familiar Jewish expression when he asks his mother Mary: “What is that to us, woman?” At first, it may appear to us that our Lord is addressing his mother abruptly. We may have the impression that what concerns Mary is of no concern to her Son. However, both the Mother and the Son share one vital concern, ever since Mary consented to be the mother of the Messiah: the salvation of Israel and the Gentiles included. Thus, in the Greek text of John’s Gospel, we have a Hebraism used by Jesus that reads te emoi kai soi: literally “what to thee and to me”. This idiom denotes a close personal relationship between the one who is asking the question and the one who is being asked and carries with it a mark of respect and denotes a sharing of interests. The Greek word for “Woman” is gynai which in a respectful and polite way is “Madam” or “My Lady” in English. Yet Jesus uses the title more in a theologically significant way, as we shall see.

The closest equivalent to this form of expression in English is “What is that between friends (mother and son)?” In the Hebrew NT, this expression reads mah-liy walak isah: “what is there to me and you”. In other words, “What would you have of me, woman?” This is the polite form of asking ‘What would you have me do, woman?’ and it implies that the speaker already has an idea of what she would like him to do. Jesus is implicitly asking his mother a rhetorical question which is more a declaration and affirmation: “What concern is this matter of the wine to us?” (2 Kg. 3:13; 2 Chron. 35:21; 2 Sam. 16:10). This wine, in the meantime, is the object of interest, but not in a practical and mundane sense. Both Mary and Jesus know it signifies something immeasurably more important in a spiritual sense and is connected to Jewish eschatology. What concerns Mary does in fact concern Jesus, too, and affects him.

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By asking his mother how her concern might affect him, Jesus is drawing her closer into association with him in his divine work of salvation. He is implicitly asking whether she is willing to go through with what he is about to do, for their relationship to each other will no longer be the same if he does; she will have to let go of her Son and have him be subjected to cruel and humiliating suffering and even death at the hands of ungrateful sinners. So, when Jesus addresses his mother, he is mindful that they share a similar interest far from beneath their common dignity; a concern much more important to them than the replenishing of wine for the wedding guests. Mary expects Jesus to perform a miracle and begin his public ministry, knowing full well what the implications are and that the time has arrived for him to make his entrance.​

​On this occasion, both the Mother and the Son desire that he begins his public ministry for the spiritual benefit and salvation of Israel and all humanity. Still, Jesus wants his mother to affirm whether she is prepared to follow this objective together with him despite the sorrow that will eventually pierce her soul (Lk. 2:35). Mary’s concern affects Jesus, since it conforms to his Divine will which has taken charge in alignment with his human will. The miracle is inevitable. Our Lord’s hour has indeed come in the form of a sign in the shadow of the Cross. Thus, there are no further words from Jesus, but from Mary to the servants in the capacity of the head steward who customarily acted on behalf of the bridegroom and host: “DO WHATEVER HE TELLS YOU.”

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Expecting her Son to perform that first miracle which will inaugurate his public ministry on earth in the shadow of the Cross, Mary faithfully approaches him with her tacit request. Here we must note the rich symbolism that exists in this circumstance of the lack of wine, without which the wedding feast is rendered a disaster in ancient Jewish culture. The wine is evocative of the blood of the new and everlasting Covenant (Mt.26:27-28). The elements of wine and blood are identified with each other at our Lord’s paschal supper with his apostles on the eve of his passion and death at the Jewish Passover.

​The wedding feast at Cana allegorically represents the eschatological wedding feast of the Lamb in celebration of the marriage between the Divine Bridegroom and his Bride (the Church) by the sacrificial outpouring of his blood (Rev. 19:6-9). Our Lady mediated on humanity’s behalf when she consented to become the mother of the divine Messiah, and she continued to intercede on its behalf by beckoning her Son to begin his mission which would eventually result in the shedding of his precious blood in atonement for the sins of the world and mankind’s redemption.

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Indeed, our Blessed Lady acted as our chief steward in the distribution of an infinitely superior wine by addressing her concern to the Bridegroom, that being the blood of her Son which supersedes the blood of goats and bulls of the first covenant. In the spirit of the priesthood, Mary sacrificed her maternal rights for the sake of appeasing the Divine justice when she solicited her Son to perform his first miracle for something she understood was immeasurably far more important than the replenishing of wine at a family wedding. By Mary’s solicitation, which her Son quietly anticipated as an affirmation of her faith and charity, the wedding day of the Lamb had been heralded. The bride, which is the Church, was to make herself ready to celebrate the marriage feast with her groom in his heavenly kingdom (Rev. 17:7,9).​

In the narrative of the Wedding Feast at Cana, therefore, John is characterizing Mary as a factual mediator who participates in the mediation of her divine Son. The Evangelist is affirming this Marian tradition of the nascent church by allegorically portraying Mary as our universal mediatrix who serves the Lord by morally channelling all the graces we might need through her solicitation and prayerful intercession. All these graces are ordained to pass through her from the Son in virtue of her divine motherhood.

“From her we have harvested the grape of life;
from her we have harvested the seed of immortality.
For our sake, she became Mediatrix of all blessings;
in her God became man, and man became God.”
St. John Damascene
Homily 2 on the Dormition
(A.D. 749)

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Every man has received grace,
ministering the same to one another:
as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1 Peter 4,1

In the order of grace, among all the faithful and righteous in the Mystical Body of Christ, Jesus has honourably conferred this pre-eminent prerogative on his most blessed mother. In honour of his mother, the Son himself has designated her as the chief participant in his principal mediation. The beloved disciple, moreover, is affirming that Jesus never intended to act alone in the Divine work of salvation, but willed that his mother should collaborate with him in saving impoverished souls through the dispensation of his grace, as all faithful disciples of his are called to do as “stewards of grace” in keeping with the spiritual gifts they have received from the Holy Spirit. The Divine Maternity is the greatest gift any disciple of Christ could receive on earth, since it belongs to the hypostatic order of our Lord’s incarnation.​

​If Mary had no active salvific role in her Son’s first and most important miracle, one with profound eschatological significance and prompted by her solicitation, John wouldn’t have included her involvement in the development of the story to its climax. He could have simply just left it at this: ‘On the third day, a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding (vv.1-2) …Jesus had noticed (not his mother) that the wine was gone’… Nearby stood six stone water jars…. Jesus said to the servants (without Mary having first adjoined them to obey her Son) … “Fill the jars with water…”’ (vv.6-11). Yet, instead, we have Mary mediating on behalf of the wedding guests (vv.3-5).

This action of hers isn’t purely incidental. Nothing is incidental in Scripture or even in a well-written piece of literature; not even the failing of the wine on this occasion, seeing that the wine is more than just ordinary wine in a spiritual sense. Mary is a principal character with a significant role to play in this story, one which has a powerful impact on its anticipated climax: God’s establishment of His New Covenant through the outpouring of the Son’s blood (sacrificial wine) on the Cross. Our Lord’s sacrificial wedding ceremony begins at the Last Supper in anticipation of his sacrificial offering of himself on Calvary where the new nuptial covenant between God and redeemed humanity is consummated: “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30). His mother Mary sorrowfully stands beneath him at the foot of the Cross, having fulfilled her participatory role and assuming a new one, of being the Mother of all peoples (Matriarch of the New Covenant), belonging to this new dispensation of grace.

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Thus, God Himself is implicitly telling us something deeply important about Mary (sensus plenior) through the literary technique of His co-author. Our Blessed Lady is a major character in the story with a significant role to play. She is, in fact, first mentioned being present at the wedding feast followed by Jesus and his disciples. This is because the Evangelist wishes to draw our attention to Mary before he proceeds with the miracle that is performed by Jesus at his mother’s behest. Mary has an essential role in the performance of her Son’s first and most important miracle which serves as a sign that the Divine Bridegroom is about to consummate His marriage covenant with His bride Israel and all peoples of the world included. As the mother of our Lord, she is giving her Son away in marriage.

If Mary’s presence weren’t meaningful with respect to her moral contribution in the Divine dispensation of grace, and all the author was concerned with was the miraculous event and what it resulted in, the mother of our Lord would not have been included in the events leading up to the miracle and the start of Jesus’ public ministry in the shadow of the Cross. Literary protocol presupposes this. Mary’s participation is an affirmation of the nascent church’s perception of her active collaboration with the Son in the redemption of mankind. Traditionally, Mary was understood to be the Mediatrix of Grace. In the Old Testament, as we have seen, the fruit of the vine (grapes/olives/figs) does symbolize God’s grace and the need to be rejuvenated by it. “Woe is me! For I have become as when the summer fruit has been gathered, as when the grapes have been gleaned; there is no cluster to eat, no first-ripe fig that my soul desires” (Micah 7:1). Analogically, the Jews’ fall from grace and exile parallel mankind’s need for redemption and restoration to the life of grace.

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Shall not Zion say:
This man and that man is born in her?
and the Highest himself hath founded her.
Psalm 87, 5

It is very likely that the wine ran out during the fifth of seven stages of the week-long family wedding ceremony, the chuppah or “canopy”. The chuppah would have been a decorated piece of cloth held aloft as a symbolic home for the new couple. It was usually held outside, under the stars, as a sign of the blessing given by God to the patriarch Abraham, that his children shall be “as the stars of the heavens.” The groom would be accompanied to the chuppah by his parents and usually wore a crown and a white robe, (kittel) to indicate the fact that for the bride and groom life was starting anew with a clean white slate, since they were uniting to become a new entity, without past sins. While the bride followed and came to the chuppah with her parents, a cantor would sing a selection from the Song of Songs (an allegory of the marriage between Christ and his Church in Christianity), and the groom would pray that his unmarried friends find their true partners in life.​

When the bride arrived in joyful procession at the chuppah, she circled the groom seven times with her mother and future mother-in-law, while the groom continued to pray. The groom’s mother danced with the bride and her parents as a gesture of uniting the two families. The bride, too, wore a crown, and like Christ’s bride in the Apocalypse, she wore a gown made of pure white linen. Under the chuppah, an honored Rabbi or family member then recited a blessing over wine, a blessing that praised and thanked God for giving them laws of sanctity and morality to preserve the sanctity of family life and of the Jewish people. The bride and groom then drank from the wine. The blessings were recited over wine, since wine was symbolic of life​.

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In view of the traditional Jewish wedding, John could be envisioning Mary as meeting the family of her Son’s bride (the Church) and dancing with her as she is about to put her past sins behind and start with a clean slate by uniting with the groom. The wine that he serves, of course, isn’t merely symbolic of life, but in the transformed substance of his blood is the source of eternal life with God. So, to understand the meaning of this Gospel narrative, we must look through the Jewish lenses of the Evangelist and see his story in a Jewish context.

John is confirming that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah of the Divine Bridegroom YHWH who shall offer the sacrificial wine of salvation to Israel and the peoples of all nations at the coming of God’s heavenly kingdom to the world: the Jewish eschaton, but with a new twist, that the Divine Bridegroom would be the Messiah himself. Eventually, the disciples would see that Jesus himself was the Divine Bridegroom.

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In Jewish eschatology, it was (and still is) expected that when the Messiah came he would cause manna to fall once again from heaven and lead the sacrifices consisting of the Bread of the Presence and miraculous sacrificial wine for undoing the sin of Adam and Eve in the (restored) Temple at Jerusalem in the order of the priest-king Melchizedek in which his forefather David belonged. During the periods of the two Temples, the priests would perform unbloody sacrifices for the temporal forgiveness of sins with the holy bread and wine every Sabbath. The Bread of the Presence or Face of God was kept in a tabernacle in the holy sanctuary in the Temple. This bread signified God’s merciful love for the people of Israel and was a sign of His providential presence.

At any rate, Mary’s participation is an affirmation of the nascent church’s perception of her active collaboration with the Son in the redemption – by being his mother. John does not say that Mary was at the wedding feast, but that “the mother of Jesus was there” out of due reverence for her maternal prerogatives in the order of grace. It was the groom’s mother who met his bride and her parents to unite their families as one during the traditional wedding ceremony by dancing with them. Mary has assumed this mediatory role in the marriage between Christ and his Church. It is she who formally unites us the human family with her Son at our wedding banquet in the kingdom of heaven.

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In the traditional Passover meal, there are four phases each in which one cup of wine is served for drinking; that is four separate cups altogether. The first cup of wine (kiddush) is mixed with water and then served during the introductory rite. Here the father of the family leads a prayer of thanksgiving and blesses the food. The appetizers are consumed in this part of the meal. In the second stage, the second cup of wine (haggadah) is also mixed with water, but not consumed, for the son asks his father questions about the original Passover night and the Israelite’s exodus from Egypt, while the father replies by citing passages contained in the Pentateuch of the Old Testament.

However, in the Gospels, Jesus is presented after the first and second cups of wine have been drunk, continuing with the mixing and serving of the third cup (berekah) which is served after the main meal (unleavened bread and the flesh of the sacrificed Passover lamb) has been eaten. With this third cup, the ‘cup of salvation’, Jesus is traditionally blessing and thanking God for having brought forth bread and the fruit of the vine on the earth (Lk. 22:14-20). So, it appears that our Lord is establishing a renewed paschal sacrificial meal of bread and wine while looking more towards the future than recollecting and reliving the past.

As the apostles ate the traditional Passover meal between the serving of the second and third cups, Jesus was taking the place of the lamb and looked towards his own self-immolation for the forgiveness of sins. His sacrifice of himself began at the Last Supper as a pre-presentation of Calvary, when he blessed the bread and the wine and substantially transformed these species into his body and blood for the apostles to consume from then on instead of the flesh of the traditional lamb. This was still a sacrificial meal of thanksgiving, but the one that fulfilled the Passover meal of the Mosaic covenant.

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Further, it is important to note, as Dr. Brant Pitre points out in his insightful book Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, that at the Last Supper Jesus refrains from mixing and serving the fourth and final cup of wine (hallel) while he and his disciples are singing hymns (the hallel Psalms of David: 113-118) of praise and thanksgiving to God who is their “salvation” and the provider of “the bread of the earth and the fruit of the vine.” This is because he is extending the sacrificial meal of his body and blood by joining it to his passion and the immolation of himself on Calvary for the sins of the world. Dr. Pitre explains why Jesus left the traditional Passover meal unfinished on the eve of his passion and death. Jesus “has just celebrated the Last Supper in which he identified his own body as the sacrifice of the new Passover. He has also identified one of the cups of wine with his own blood, about to be poured out for the forgiveness of sins… Jesus implicitly identified himself as the new Passover lamb… By the time this new Passover is finished, Jesus will be dead… When the meal is finished and the final cup drunk, it will mean his own death has arrived.”

Dr. Pitre goes on to explain that it is when Jesus is nailed to the Cross he drinks from this last fourth hallel cup of wine at the time he receives the vinegar mixed with wine (or sour wine) extended to him on a hyssop (a branch used in the Levitical sacrifice for sin), since it is by his death on the Cross that our Lord establishes the new marriage covenant between God and redeemed mankind in place of the covenant of the Old Dispensation. The new Passover meal is “finished” when Jesus bows his head and gives up his spirit right after he has consumed the mixed wine of the fourth cup or ‘cup of completion’. His hour, which he first alludes to at the wedding feast in Cana, is now over, having begun at the Last Supper, and his disciples have already eaten his flesh and drunk his blood in the transubstantiated species of bread and wine. In the traditional Jewish Passover meal, the flesh of the sacrificed lamb must be eaten, or the sacrifice is rendered fruitless (Jn. 6:54).

Thus, the Last Supper is more of a wedding banquet than a traditional Jewish Passover meal. As the Divine Bridegroom, Jesus serves the “best wine” (his own blood) to his disciples for the forgiveness of sins. Our Lord’s perpetual sacrifice and offering of himself in love of his bride begins at the Last Supper, which is a prelude to the sacrificial heavenly wedding banquet of the Lamb that shall begin following his resurrection and ascension into heaven. The Apostles (except Judas who has already absented himself before the start of the meal) have drunk from the third cup of mixed wine and will also share the fourth cup of the wine of salvation with Jesus in the Eucharistic sacrifice of Holy Mass (1 Cor. 10:16).

O Lord, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the child of your handmaid.
You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
and call on the name of the Lord.
Hallel Psalm 116, 16-17

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And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him:
They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is
that to me and to thee? My hour is not yet come. His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.
John 2, 3-5

We should keep in mind that the narrative of the Wedding Feast at Cana is a literary work, and as such all the characters in the story have a significant role to play, including the servants. Nothing further is said of the disciples after their attendance is recorded. What is intriguing, though, is that John presents the servants at the wedding feast as types of disciples. We read: His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). Dr. Edward Sri (Walking with Mary) points out, that instead of using the Greek word duolois for “servants” in the ordinary sense, the Evangelist uses diakonois, the Greek word used for Jesus’ true disciples in the NT. For instance: “If anyone serves (diakonei) me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant (diakonoi) be also” (Jn. 12:26). Hence, John is presenting Mary as the mother of all her Son’s disciples (the bride of Christ) who faithfully follow and serve him. And the first thing she must say to all her children as Mother of the Church is: “Do whatever he tells you.”

As their loving mother and caretaker of their souls, our Blessed Lady is encouraging them to live their lives in perfect obedience to her divine Son (Jn. 19:26-27; Rev. 12:17). Moreover, John does not say “Mary” spoke to the servants but that it was our Lord’s “mother.” He is alluding to her dual maternity which Jesus ratified on the Cross just before he concluded the New Passover meal. His mother is the faithful disciple’s mother as well, though spiritually.  So, John’s gospel is far more mystical in flavour than are the Synoptic Gospels. The narrative of the Wedding Feast at Cana is indeed allegorical in aspect.

When Jesus asks his mother how it is that the wine concerns them, he is implicitly referring to the Last Supper and Calvary, which is where he will publicly designate Mary Mother of the Church. In the context of the traditional Jewish ceremony, the wedding feast is a prelude to the New Jerusalem come down from heaven by the blood of the new and everlasting covenant, the marriage between the Bride Groom and his Bride, which is the Church. Mary must formally unite her Son to his bride to become her mother and Advocatrix of grace in and through the merits of her divine Son. Her mediation is a formal act of uniting God with redeemed humanity which now begins with a clean slate and the sin of Adam put behind.

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Mary’s maternal prerogative is most efficacious by merit because of her salutary consent to be the mother of our Lord. It was by her faith working through love that the divine Word became incarnate not only to redeem the world, but also to justly merit the dispensation of divine grace, without which we cannot be regenerated and personally justified before God. So, it is only fitting that she who brought the living Source of all grace into the world should continue to act in a primary mediatory capacity, as the neck that connects the Head to all the members of Christ’s Mystical Body, in the dispensation of his signal or actual graces.​

No miracle of Jesus was ever performed through the solicitation of any apostle, including those who were present at the marriage feast. Mary approached her Son expecting a miracle. She did not suggest that the wedding feast should now come to an end and the guests return home, unlike the apostles who suggested to Jesus that the crowds be sent away for want of food (Mt. 14:15-21). The miracle of the loaves and fishes is a prelude to our Lord’s Bread of Life discourse in John 6 in anticipation of the Last Supper when Jesus institutes the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist by miraculously transforming the substance of the bread and wine into his own body and blood.

Mary did not approach the bridegroom with her concern, though it was his responsibility to provide enough wine for a one-week celebration. She simply and confidently said to her Son: “THEY HAVE NO WINE.” Mary approached Jesus because she knew that her Son was the long-awaited Bridegroom who would come into the world to provide the wine of salvation for the redemption of Israel and mankind. This was the “best wine” flowing in abundance, as foretold by the prophets. Jesus produced over one hundred gallons of wine from the water that was held in the six stone jars, water that was used for domestic purification rituals. John tells us in his First Epistle (5:6) that Jesus came into the world “not by water only” (regeneration/baptism) but “by water and “blood” (justification/the Eucharist).

 “Cease your laments; I will make myself your advocate in my Son’s presence. Meanwhile, no more sadness, because I have brought joy to the world. For it is to destroy the kingdom of sorrow that I have come into the world: I full of grace … Then curb your tears; accept me as your mediatrix in the presence of him who was born from me, because the author of joy is the God generated before all ages. Remain calm; be troubled no longer: I come from him, full of grace.”
Romanos the Singer, On Christmas 2, 10-11
(ante A.D. 560)

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May he send you help from the sanctuary,
and give you support from Zion.
Psalm 20, 2

All the unmerited graces we receive originate from Christ, who is Head of his Mystical Body. Yet they sufficiently flow through Mary, its neck. It is for the sake of his mother above all else and out of his perfect love for her that signal graces are given to us despite our unworthiness. John’s allegorical narrative of the wedding feast illustrates this intimate association between the Mother and the Son in the dispensation and application of divine grace in our lives. Being our spiritual mother, by having conceived and borne Jesus so that we may be reborn in the Spirit and have new life with God, the Church has designated Mary to be the New Eve. By being the second Eve, Mary is Mother of the Church, and as such the culmination of Mother Zion in whom the Church is symbolized as the sacrament of grace for the entire world. It is in the heavenly sanctuary that the Lamb of God intercedes for us all through the merits of his precious blood. The grace he has produced for us by his infinite merits is dispensed first and foremost through our Blessed Mother by whose mediation we are formally united to Christ our Divine Bridegroom.

That John perceived Mary to be Eve’s anti-type, the spiritual “mother of all the living” by her association with the Son, the New Adam, is evident in how he constructs his Gospel from the beginning up to the narrative of the marriage feast at Cana. The Evangelist begins with a type of creation story that in its day-by-day format remarkably parallels the Story of Creation in Genesis 1. What follows in the Gospel is a seven-day model of the new creation of the world which culminates in the inauguration of Jesus’ public ministry in the shadow of the Cross and Mary’s vital participation with him in undoing the sin of Adam and Eve. Remarkably, the Evangelist presents us with a New Creation story in which we have the new Adam and his ‘helpmate’ the new Eve.

Day 1

In the beginning, God created heaven and earth.
Genesis 1, 1

That was from the beginning, that which we have heard,
which we have seen with our eyes;
that which we contemplated,
and our hands handled,
concerning the word of life;
John 1, 1

And he called the light Day, and the darkness Night;
and there was evening and morning one day.
Genesis 1, 5

And the light shineth in darkness,
and darkness did not comprehend it.
John 1, 5

Day 2 

And the earth was void and empty,
and darkness was upon the face of the deep;
and the spirit of God moved over the waters.
Genesis 1, 2

The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him,
and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God, behold
him who taketh away the sin of the world.
John 1, 29

And John gave testimony, saying: I saw the Spirit coming down, as a dove from heaven, and he remained upon him. And I knew him not; but he who sent me to baptize with water, said to me: He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining upon him, he it is that baptizes with the Holy Ghost.
John 1, 32-33

Day 3 

And he said: Let the earth bring forth the green herb,
and such as may seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, which may have seed in itself upon the earth.
And it was so done. And the earth brought forth the green herb,
and such as yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that beareth fruit having seed each one according to its own kind.
And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1, 11-12

The next day again John stood, and two of his disciples.
And beholding Jesus walking, he saith: Behold the Lamb of God.
When the two disciples heard him say this,
they followed Jesus.
John 1, 35-36

In this is my Father glorified; that you bring forth very much fruit
and become my disciples.
John 15, 8

Day 4    

And God made the two great lights: a greater light to rule the day; and a lesser light to rule the night: and the stars. And he set them in the firmament of heaven to shine upon the earth. And to rule the day and the night, and to divide the light and the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1, 16-18

On the following day, he would go forth into Galilee, and he findeth Philip. And Jesus saith to him: Follow me… Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him: and he saith of him: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.
John 1, 43-44

Again therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying: I am the light
of the world: he that follows me, walks not in darkness,
but shall have the light of life.
John 8, 12

Day 5

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1, 29

Day 6 

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples.
When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
John 1, 35-36
 

Day 7  

God also said: Let the waters bring forth the creeping creature having life, and the fowl that may fly over the earth under the firmament of heaven. And God created the great whales, and every living and moving creature, which the waters brought forth, according to their kinds, and every winged fowl according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And he blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the waters of the sea: and let the birds be multiplied upon the earth.
Genesis 1, 20-22

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee.
Finding Philip, he said to him,
“Follow me.”
John 1,43

Jesus is journeying to Cana in Galilee, while John continues to baptize people in the Jordan, many of whom will follow Jesus and have the light of life through the regenerating baptismal water: men and women of every kind, the great and the small alike. Up to three thousand people were baptized on the first Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:41). The Second New Creation story begins in Chapter 2 of John’s Gospel with the marriage feast in Cana and the New Adam and his helpmate the New Eve present there.

The wine mourns, the vine languishes, all the merry-hearted sigh…
No more do they drink wine with singing…
There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine;
all joy has reached its eventide;
the gladness of the earth is banished.
Isaiah 24, 7, 9, 11

On this mountain (Zion), the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a feast of fat things, a banquet of aged wine – of fat things full of marrow, of fine wine well refined. And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the covering that is cast over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth.
Isaiah 25, 6-8

AND the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage.
John 2, 1-2

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And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of great thunders, saying, alleluia: for the Lord our God the Almighty hath reigned. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give glory to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath prepared herself. And it is granted to her that she should clothe herself with fine linen, glittering and white. For the fine linen are the justifications of saints. And he said to me: Write: Blessed are they that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith to me: These words of God are true.
Revelation 19, 6-9

St. John’s account of the new creation culminates in the wedding feast at Cana, the seventh day on which our Lord does not rest but, on the contrary, begins his work of salvation (Gen. 2:2-3). This is the second creation story whose principal characters are Jesus, the New Adam, and Mary, the New Eve. The narrative is rife with literary and theological symbolism. The first of Jesus’ miracles, by no coincidence through his mother’s solicitation, is to turn water into wine, just as the first miracle of Moses was to turn water into blood. Jesus turns the water into the blood of the grape, as it is called in Genesis 49, by converting the wine of salvation into the substance of his own blood at the Last Supper or the sacrificial New Passover meal of the heavenly wedding banquet.

Recall on Day 2 of the new creation: ‘John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world.’ (Jn. 1:29). John 2 opens with the Lamb of God, who is attending a wedding feast with his mother and disciples. This wedding feast points to the eschatological wedding banquet of the Lamb in the new order of creation which John envisions in the Apocalypse. What allegorically takes place at the wedding feast in Cana is celebrated in the New Jerusalem that has come down from heaven (Rev. 21:1-5). This invisible reality is made visible in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist which in union with the wedding banquet in heaven has been celebrated in Holy Mass (the re-presentation of Calvary) in the pilgrim Catholic Church since Apostolic time (1 Cor. 10:16).

Suffice it to say, the Evangelist is drawing our attention to a deeper divine mystery than what first meets the eye. He mentions Mary and constructs the dialogue she has with Jesus in a way that is intended to illustrate their close association in the Divine work of salvation. Mary’s presence at the wedding feast together with that of her Son’s is of providential design, no less than the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary is in the Gospel of Luke. Nothing is merely incidental in the Scriptures. By the time his Gospel was written, the author could draw from a Marian tradition that was flourishing in the nascent Church: That it is first and foremost through the mediation of the faithful Mother that we receive the blessings of the faithful Son. It is at the celebration of the wedding feast of the Lamb that Mary, as mother of the Son, has passed him on as groom to the bride, which is the Church and sacrament of divine grace for the entire world (Rev. 21:1-2, 9-22).

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Then why didn’t Mary appeal to the bridegroom instead of addressing her Son when the wine failed? After all, it was his chief responsibility to provide for his guests. As we have seen, the answer lies in ancient Judaic tradition which Mary herself was well acquainted with through the teachings of the religious elders or rabbis. The answer is she understood the eschatological meaning of the prophets who describe Israel’s desire for the wine that shall be poured out at the Messianic wedding, when the groom YHWH shall consummate His marriage covenant with Israel and all nations. When the Messiah comes, people of all nations will come to the Temple on Mount Zion to worship God and offer unbloody sacrifices of holy bread and miraculous wine to Him (Deut. 33:19).

​The Jews long expected this banquet to be universal, for both Israel and the Gentile nations. It would be a sacrificial wedding banquet of wine. Isaiah speaks of “fat things” and “fine wines”, which refer to the fat of the sacrifices and fine wine that were offered to God as bloody and unbloody sacrifices in the Jewish Temple (Lev. 3:16; 23:13). And, finally, this sacrificial wedding banquet hosted by the Messiah would undo once and for all the ill-effects of the sin of Adam and Eve. It would “destroy the covering that is cast over all peoples” and “swallow up death forever… God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from the earth.”

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In the time of Jesus and his blessed mother Mary, the Jews believed that this eschatological wedding banquet, which shall celebrate the consummation of the spiritual marriage covenant between YHWH the groom and Israel the bride, including all nations, would be a kind of return to the Garden of Eden before the fall of Adam and Eve. Here the righteous would drink miraculous wine and feast on the Beatific Vision of God. So, Mary’s words “They have no wine” express the Jewish hope for the wine of the Bridegroom YHWH at His banquet – the wine of salvation. This is what the mother of Jesus meant by wine, “the best wine saved for last” in the transubstantiated form of her divine Son’s blood (Jn. 2:10).​

Not unlike John the Baptist, Mary knew that her Son was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world by offering himself as a living sacrifice. What she did, then, by making her request, was implicitly ask him to provide the sacrificial and supernatural wine of salvation spoken of by the prophets and long-awaited by the Jews. The Jews expected the groom YHWH to send his Messiah to lead the unbloody sacrifices of bread and wine for the forgiveness of mankind’s sins on Mount Zion, though they had no idea that the celebration on Mount Zion would take the form of the holy sacrifice of the Mass in the Catholic Church or New Jerusalem as a visible sign of the invisible heavenly marriage banquet until the end of this age. In union with the pilgrim Church on earth, the bread and wine offered by our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek would actually in appearance be the substance of his own body and blood.

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Mary understood that the sacrificial victim would be the Divine Groom Himself in the person of her Son Jesus by the outpouring of his blood: the wine of the new and everlasting covenant. His bride would be forgiven humanity and his Church. The Groom’s gift to his bride would be the giving of himself in his sacrificial act of love: the regenerating water and justifying blood that poured out from his pierced side upon the consummation of their eternal marriage covenant (Jn. 19:28-35). On this occasion, a sword would also pierce Mary’s soul (Lk. 2:34-35). Therefore, Mary approached Jesus as she normally would have the bridegroom of the wedding feast at Cana who was responsible for the provision of the wine. Mary did not expect her Son to sacrifice himself at the wedding feast, but she understood that it was time for him to begin his public ministry in the shadow of his self-immolation for the forgiveness of sins. Our Lord knew that his mother knew (what to thee and to me) and so he told her: “My hour has not yet come.”

In other words, Jesus implicitly said to his mother that the Last Supper or sacrificial wedding banquet still lay three years ahead together with the consummation of the marriage between God and forgiven mankind on the Cross, upon his receiving the sour wine that would be extended to him on a hyssop branch: the fourth hallel cup which concluded the traditional Passover meal. (Jn. 19:28-30). The wedding guests at Cana shall have their wine for the feast, but as a sign that the Divine Bridegroom did come to host the sacrificial wedding banquet of salvation and consummate his new marriage covenant with redeemed humanity, in fulfilment of the prophecies, he shall honour his mother’s request. In a Jewish religious context, therefore, Mary was asking her Son to reveal himself as the long-awaited Divine Bridegroom YHWH and to provide the wine of salvation (his own blood) for the redemption of humanity by saying, “THEY HAVE NO WINE.”

In conclusion, as the New Eve or spiritual mother of all the living, Mary prompted her Son upon the seventh day of the New Creation to provide the best wine, viz., the wine of salvation to undo the sin of Adam, so that all people might return to the Garden of Eden as it was before mankind’s fall from grace. Thus, since the time the Blessed Virgin Mary consented to be the mother of our Lord, she has never laid her saving office aside as our universal Mediatrix of Grace. By her glorious Assumption body and soul into Heaven, Mary’s maternal responsibilities have rather increased in the dispensation of actual graces, produced by the body and blood of Christ, for the sake of her children’s spiritual growth towards perfection in the new Exodus and their reaching the new promised land, which is Heaven.

“With the Mediator you are the Mediatrix of all the world.”
St. Ephraem of Syria
Syri opera graeca latine, v.3
(A.D. 373)
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My beloved spoke and said to me
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth,
the time for pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!
Song of Solomon 2, 10-13
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Salve Regina!