I started out to write an article titled ‘Making Sense out of Nonsense and Sensibility out of Senselessness’ and as I jotted down one point after another, a new idea crossed my mind. I had been meditating on the story of Jesus turning water into wine at Cana. And this is what gave birth to this post as I set aside the initial one.
Long time ago there was a certain city state called Naca in which there lived a generous king called Karim. King Karim invited the residents of the city to his palace to celebrate the New Year 1017. It was called the New Year’s Feast. He told them that he would provide food and arrange for samba dancers to provide entertainment. The guests were to bring one jug of wine each.
One of the invitees thought to himself, “I will just bring a jug of water instead of wine. Wine is expensive. After all my jug of water cannot make a big difference in a giant vat of wine.”
Few days passed and the New Year Fest arrived. The man went to the festival in aplomb and styled demeanor as he carried a jug of water as if it were wine. The dandy man was indeed the sharpest knife in the drawer. He went straight to the giant clay drum, where the wine was being collected, and poured out his water in smugness. Instantly the party kicked off melodramatically. The dance, tanto and tango went on in earnest.
When the guests had had enough of this, and as they counted the last minute of 1016, the wine was served. As they began drinking, each was shocked to taste nothing but plain water. It turned out that each guest had anticipated that everybody would bring wine, thus they all had argued that one jug of water would not make a change!
How many times do we abdicate our roles and responsibilities thinking somehow, somewhere, someone will partake of those duties? How many times do we ignore important things, assuming they are petty and cannot make a difference?
An account is given in the Bible, John 2:1-10 of Jesus with his mother in the town of Cana. They were in the town to attend a wedding. However it appears that Jesus agenda was more than that. His interest was not just to wine and dine but divine too. As it was His custom, Jesus never did anything purposelessly. Even today this same Jesus does not just do things aimlessly. It is refreshing to note that we can always turn events of our lives to glorify God.
It is fascinating to note that this story is only recorded in the Book of John. The question why it does not appear in other Gospels is a theological one and hence beyond the scope of this post.
Jesus disciples and even his family members are present at the function. It also seems that Mary is heavily involved in the affairs of the wedding. One can conclude that the occasion must have been of a relative or close family friend. She takes charge of the events when the wine diminishes. This indicate that the crowd was either large or there was overindulgence. May be both.
However the bane of writing this post is limited to the lesson we learn from the conduct of Mary. Mary the mother of Jesus takes upon herself to ensure that the problem of inadequate wine is addressed promptly. She knew that if it is not attended to in time, it will turn into an emergency.
There are two important things we can quickly pick from this account.
She identified the problem
First of all Mary realized the wine was gone. She must have been hands-on manager. She discerned there was a problem as fast as it appeared. It mean she kept accounts of how things were progressing at the wedding. She monitored and evaluated every stage of the events. She was not willing to let anything pass her by.
This is the spirit I am challenged to have. This is the spirit we are challenged to have. We are supposed to be on the top of the game. We are called to be vigilant. We are to be like a watchman; we observe trouble from a far and put measures in place to arrest it before things go south. This is the ability to read between the lines, look beyond hills, see past what physical eyes sees, put two and two together and come up with an answer. It is possessing a knack to decipher things as fast as possible, discern happenings and underpinnings instantly.
She took prompt action
Secondly we find that Mary straightaway took action when she recognized that there was no more wine. She did not wait for the Master of the Banquet to notice it. She did not start to whine or wimp out. She neither pitied herself nor got pissed off. She did not either ran away from the wedding or run in rounds.
How many times do we face challenges and instead of finding a way to address them we just ignore them, pass the buck, and ran away? We look the other way and hope somebody else will come and sort it out. We hide our heads in sand like the proverbial ostrich. We say to ourselves, ‘I would help if we were many’. We assume that to solve it we must be a crowd. We think another person can do it better than us. We chose to escape and do something else. We look for escapism.
We can be a Mary
I believe God has given us the privilege of a new year so that we can make a difference in this world. We do not have to wait for the crowd to jolt us into action. The small things we do can either destroy or build an individual, a family, a community and nation. We can choose to do small things that can bring changes around us. That one action can stop a lifetime embarrassment. That one action can stop injury and even death. We have the onerous task to thinking globally and acting locally.
Who knows but that we are in that family, that church, that community and that office for such a time as this; and for such a purpose as this. I pray I be an Esther of 2017.
Allow me to sign off with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. “No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”