Mary: Holding the Tension

As we look at the third bright light, Cana, let’s focus on Mary. Sometimes we think we’ve got a monopoly on stress. Then we consider her situation: steeped in the Torah, reading the Bible stories of God’s fidelity, lighting the Sabbath candles each week as a reminder of God’s goodness.

On the other hand, she lived under Roman oppression. She had friends who were sold into slavery with their children when Romans slaughtered 2000 men of her country. We too move tween two worlds: the promises of our faith, the sad realities of our culture. If we take comfort in the faith, we’re accused of ignoring reality. If we focus only on people’s inhumanity, we risk despair.

Caught between similar, powerful forces, Mary then receives a most puzzling message. At the annunciation, Gabriel doesn’t give her a script. Instead, she’s invited to enter the mystery and live with the unresolved. Nothing guarantees the story of her child will go well.

When she approaches Jesus at Cana, she models how to transcend the dividing lines between men and women that would’ve been strict at a Jewish celebration. She resists the temptation facing all parents of young adults: to deluge with words, control, direction. She simply uses 5 words: “They have no more wine.” When Jesus responds to her somewhat curtly, she hears the “yes” beneath the “no.” In utter confidence, she tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

What in my faith tradition helps me self-transcend? Surely, Mary’s model of how to respond to stress.


Some excerpts from Mary  by Kathy Coffey, Orbis Books

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