Second Sunday after Epiphany—19 January A.D. 2020
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conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
“Thou hast kept the good wine until now.”
read at Mass today tell us something about how we ought to
pray—particularly our prayer of petition. You know, of course, that
there are four different kinds of prayer:
There is Prayer
of Adoration, in which we speak of God's greatness and goodness, and
tell Him that we love Him.
There is Prayer
of Thanksgiving, in which we thank God for all the good things He has
given us, and will give us in heaven; and for the ability to bear up
under the evils which me may encounter in this world.
There is Prayer
of Reparation, in which we plead with God for the forgiveness of our
sins and for the forgiveness of those who will not pray for themselves;
and for the remission of the punishment that is due to sin even after it
has been forgiven.
Finally, there is
Prayer of Petition, in which we ask God for the things that are
necessary for us in the world, and for the graces necessary to win
It is this prayer of petition that
comes to mind in today's readings.
Saint Paul begins
by telling us how we are to behave with one another.
It would be foolish to think that God will reward our petitions if we
are unreasonable with the people around us. So Paul begins by telling
us that we are to make use of the talents we have for the common good.
And then he goes on to say that we are to “love one another with
fraternal charity.” He is saying that there ought to be a positive bond
of affection between us as Christians, for we are united (or should be!)
in our common love of God. And since we are all united in this love of
God, we must all look out for one another.
That doesn't mean
that we have to be “busy-bodies,” sticking our noses into everyone
else's affairs. But it does mean a mutual concern, and attempt to
anticipate each others needs; whether those needs be spiritual or
material. Certainly, we can all pray for one another—and should—even
without actually knowing each others' specific needs.
Very often in the
scriptures our Lord reinforces this idea, that we will be rewarded in
proportion to the good we do for others; that we will be forgiven our
sins in proportion to the forgiveness we have for those who offend us.
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against
And certainly, if
we are looking out for each others’ well-being, God may make use of that
to answer our prayers. He may send me to help you in your need; He may
send you to help me in mine.
Gospel adds a complementary idea to what Saint Paul is telling us.
First of all, it demonstrates the powerful ability of the Blessed Virgin
Mary to win favors for those whom she loves. At first it seems that our
Lord isn't going to do anything about the wine shortage; they've
probably been partying too long anyway, and He probably hadn’t planned
on working any miracles until He got His public life underway: “My hour
has not yet come.”
instructive here is that Mary doesn't even argue with Him. She doesn't
start using any of the various techniques that mothers have for getting
their sons to do things: no guilt trip, no “pretty please,” no “shame
on you,” or any of that sort of thing. She simply assumes that He will
do what she wants, and starts giving directions to the waiters to do
whatever He says. She knows that He will not let her down in her need
to help those who need her help.
But this Gospel
also demonstrates a second thing. Notice that her friends, the bridal
couple, didn't even have to ask for her help, or suggest a specific
thing that they needed. Because, for those that are Mary's friends, it
is enough to be in need—and she will notice. And having noticed, she
will put the need in her Son's hands, and will get results.
That really is a
better way to pray, anyway. It is surely a lot better than telling God
how He ought to run the universe, and what He should do for us. That is
a pride-filled attitude, and one that God often disdains. On the other
hand if we simply ask Mary to “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour
of our death,” we know that she will obtain only those things that are
truly good for us, and for our eternal salvation.
Now, I suspect
that we will always go and itemize our needs when we pray—that's human
nature—but, at least if we refrain from telling Mary and Jesus what they
should do, we will be rewarded with the best possible outcome for our
Just think about
what the Gospel said. When Mary insisted that her Son see to the needs
of her friends, He didn't solve the problem by just putting a suggestion
in the guests' heads that maybe they were tired anyway and it was time
for the party to be over. No, instead He made wine from water so that
all could rejoice through Mary's generosity.
And the wine
wasn't just good—the wine was the best they had ever tasted!