by Fr. Tommy Lane
Jesus bestows a huge honor on his mother Mary in the Gospel today during the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11). At first it might be difficult to see the honor Jesus gives to Mary when he says, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4) In our culture it would be disrespectful to address a lady as “woman” and above all one’s mother as “woman”, but throughout the Gospels Jesus called many ladies “woman.” (Matt 15:28; Luke 13:12; John 4:21, 8:10, 20:13) Jesus intends to teach us something when he calls Mary woman. He does it for us. The first woman of the Old Testament is Eve. In Genesis God says to the serpent,
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
He will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel. (Gen 3:15)
God is telling the serpent there will be hostility between the serpent and woman, and the woman’s offspring will strike the head of the serpent. The woman’s offspring who will strike the serpent is Jesus. Everything Jesus did, every miracle, everything he preached, was striking at Satan. While the first woman, Eve, failed in the contest between her and the devil, Jesus, the offspring of the first woman of the New Covenant will defeat Satan. It seems Jesus deliberately called Mary “woman” at Cana to highlight Mary as the Woman of the New Covenant just as Eve had been the Woman of the Old Testament.
Later in John’s Gospel we read that as Jesus was dying on the cross he said, “Woman, behold your son…Behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27) It was Jesus’ way of asking his friend, the apostle John, to look after his mother. John did look after her; from that hour he took Mary into his own home (John 19:27). We also understand this to mean that Jesus was giving his mother to us also as our spiritual mother. Mary now has a new role, as well as the mother of Jesus she is also Mother of the Church. So at Cana when Jesus calls Mary “Woman” it means her role as mother of Jesus will be expanded but it is only when we hear Jesus’ words at the cross (“Woman, behold your son…Behold your mother”) that we fully understand; she is transitioning from the mother of Jesus to be the mother of us all. So Jesus’ title “woman” for his mother Mary was in fact describing Mary’s role, co-operating with God’s plan of salvation. She became the New Eve, the woman who fixed what the first woman, Eve, had broken. Just as Jesus is sometimes called the New Adam by comparison with Adam of the Old Testament, likewise Mary is the New Eve, the woman of the New Covenant.
There is one more time when Mary is described as “woman”, it’s in Revelation 12. John receives a vision of a woman in heaven giving birth to a child, Jesus, who would rule the whole world, and there is a dragon, Satan, who tries to make war on the child. At the end of that particular vision John saw the dragon also trying to attack the offspring of the woman (Rev 12:17). Those offspring are her spiritual children, all of us. So Mary in heaven continues to be our spiritual mother, bringing us to spiritual birth in her son Jesus. Mary in Heaven continues to intercede for us and we rightly call her Queen of Heaven and Earth.
Jesus gives a big honor to his mother Mary during the wedding at Cana. He calls her the first woman of the New Covenant. At Calvary, as the first woman of the New Covenant, she becomes Mother of the Church, the spiritual mother of all of us. In heaven she continues to intercede for us his spiritual children. She is the Queen of Heaven and Earth with whom we can share every joy and sorrow.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners, now
and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013
More homilies for the Second Sunday Year C
Second reading see excerpt Enjoying Paul and Old Testament