August 2021 Allocutio

“Do whatever he tells you!”

Fr. Paul Churchill

“After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brethren and his disciples; and there they stayed for a few days” (Jn 2:12).

This verse of St. John’s Gospel, which comes just after the miracle at Cana, has a message for us who celebrate 100 years of the Legion of Mary. They show that right at the start of Jesus’ public ministry Mary was in the thick of things. Indeed when we read this verse in the light of what had just proceeded, namely Christ’s first miracle at Cana, performed at his mother’s prompting, you cannot but get a sense of someone who has a particular relationship with him, one that is both close and intense.

But if you stop to think it must be so. God has joined with his Universe. Where? Mary. She was the woman chosen to be his mother and she was Mother at its best. Because she was unaffected by sin, she would remain the surest way for him. He trusted her. He bowed to her will in the Temple when he was twelve years old and he stayed close to her most of his life. But now she tells him that his hour has come and he should move on with his Father’s business. And going down to Capernaum with him and his disciples, she is again showing herself in the thick of things, closely involved with him and his mission.

As St. Louis Marie de Montfort used to say, God does not change his ways. If she is there with his budding church in its earliest phase then she must continue with it. It helps explain why so many saints have had her as a deeply embedded friend in their lives. In fact she is one of the anchor guarantors of the true Church. And Frank Duff had a deep sense of that too, of how central Mary is at the heart of God’s plan.

We must not overlook in our reflections the fact that Jesus spent most of his earthly life with her. Because the Gospels focus on his public ministry, we could overlook the simple fact that he lived with her for over 90% of his life. The hidden life of the two of them in Nazareth is more important than we can guess. They worked together and were a team. She had a closer relationship to him and him to her than anyone else; they could read each other’s minds, something clearly evident in the Cana event in which nuances and interpretation of words might be puzzling to us. Her going down to Capernaum with him and his disciples after the wedding feast of Cana shows us another glimpse of their close reality.

Jesus says, “Follow me”. He says to Thomas that he is the way. And when we look and see the extent to which Mary was so much part of his life, surely it is clear that we can only be his followers if we have a big place in our lives for her, just as he had. Besides how can we claim to be his brothers unless we also have the same mother? Having him in your life, and not having her also as our Mother, makes no sense. That is part of what is implied in the text I began with.

As we approach the celebration of 100 years of the Legion of Mary we do well to renew our partnership with her as the person who knew him best. She knows well what her Son can do, how he thinks. Like those servants/slaves who stood waiting at Cana we should make ourselves available to her in the preparations for the wedding Feast of the Lamb. Let us take her seriously when she says, “Do whatever he tells you!” Sometimes what he asks may seem unintelligible. “Just fill those jars with water? But this is a wedding! Surely we should be doing more, something else?” Mary says, “Just trust and do what he tells you no matter what. He is God after all”. John Henry Newman once said, “One step enough for me, I do not ask to see the distant scene”. We can be tempted to foresee and control. But let us simply trust “the beyond” to God. With Mary’s help Frank Duff took one small step a 100 years ago. That small step led to a great grace even though the distant scene was not in view. It is by keeping Mary in our company that we will find the surest and best way.