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home : from the bishop : from the bishop January 22, 2019


11/21/2018
Bishop O'Connell's homily for the closing of the Solemn Novena

Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.


Shrine of the Miraculous Medal in Germantown
November 21, 2018

“Do whatever he tells you.”  These words of our Blessed Mother Mary to the servants working at the Wedding Feast of Cana emerge from John’s Gospel as maternal instruction to us all. 

We need to listen to those words over and over again throughout our lives.  They were first spoken to spare a young married couple and their families the embarrassment of cutting their wedding celebration short due to the lack of wine.  Remember, in ancient times, weddings continued for almost a week or so.  For most of us, a couple hours at a wedding reception are more than enough celebration ... but a week!  Imagine it!

Mary finds Jesus and tells him “they have no wine!”  She convinces Jesus to help and he performs the first miracle of his public ministry.  He does so because his Mother asks.

St. John’s Gospel story of the Wedding Feast of Cana offers something wonderfully important for us to think and pray about.  It presents a very specific concrete need: “they have no wine.” 

It was not Jesus’ problem — “my hour has not yet come.”  It was not really Mary’s problem either.  It was, rather, a problem, a need for those who invited Mary and Jesus and his disciples into their lives.  Because Mary and Jesus became part of their lives at a special, critical moment and because Mary made Jesus aware of their moment of need, Jesus responded.  Where there were empty jars that the servants filled with water at his request, Jesus made wine, good wine — the best wine, because at Mary’s prompting, they did what he told them.

The Wedding Feast of Cana is a symbol of our lives. There are times when the wine runs out — we confront ourselves, our needs, our pain; we face loneliness, loss of loved ones, unemployment; we encounter abuse, doubt in our Church and its leadership, our children’s loss of faith or our own; addiction in our families, broken marriages, broken homes; sickness, disabilities, aging and its consequences; racism, crime, attachment to sin.  We find our crosses.  We come to the wedding only to discover they have no wine to bring us joy and peace.  What do we do? 

We turn to Mary and she offers us her Son through her Miraculous Medal and she whispers to us: “Come to the foot of the altar” .... “Do whatever he tells you.”  He and he alone can turn the water of our tears into the wine of Christ’s comfort and consolation and patience and peace.

I am going to get a bit personal here. Each morning before I get out of bed I do two things: I put on my plastic leg where a real leg used to be so that I can stand and walk another day; and I place a Miraculous Medal around my neck so that I can stand and face another day, conscious of our Mother’s words, “do whatever he tells you.”  And I pray these familiar words from the Novena prayers:

“May this Medal be for us a sure sign of your affection for us and a constant reminder of our duties toward you.  Ever while wearing it may we be blessed by your loving protection and preserved in the grace of your Son.”

As you continue to wear the Miraculous Medal, as you continue to seek Mary’s intercession and loving protection to be preserved in the grace of her Son, always remember and live by her words: “Do whatever he tells you” and let the Lord Jesus turn your water into his wine!






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