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.
A long time ago there was a certain city-state called Naca in which there lived a fair king called Karim. King Karim invited the denizens of the city to his palace to celebrate the New Year 1017. It was called the New Year’s feast. He assured them of food provision and entertainment from samba dancers. 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 celebration in aplomb and styled demeanour and 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 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, so they all had argued that one jug of water would not make a change!
You can choose to do the right thing
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 serious matters, assuming they are frivolous 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 there to attend a wedding. However, it seems that Jesus agenda was more than that. His business was not just wining and dining but divine too. As it was His practice, Jesus never did anything purposelessly. Even today this same Jesus does not just do things aimlessly.
Jesus disciples and even his family members are present at the function. It also seems that Mary is heavily involved in the activities 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 wine diminishes. This indicates that the crowd was either large or there was overindulgence. Maybe both.
Nonetheless, 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 discerned the wine was no more. She must have been a hands-on manager. She determined there was a problem as fast as it appeared. It means 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 character we are invited to have. We are supposed to be at the top of the game. We are called to be vigilant; like a watchman. Can we observe trouble from afar 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 see, 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 realised that there was no wine. She did not wait for the Master of the Banquet to notice it. She did not whine or wimp out. She neither pitied herself nor got pissed off. She did not either run 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 the 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 stuff that can bring changes around us. That one action can stop a lifetime discomfort. That one action can stop damage and even death. We have the onerous task of 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.
“No work is insignificant. All labour that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” Martin Luther King Jr.