The Omnipotence Of Prayer

The Omnipotence Of Prayer

Second Sunday after Epiphany

Last week on the feast of the Holy Family we reflected a little bit on the divine institution of the family, and we evoked the challenges that it faces today. Holy Mother Church puts before us today the miracle at the wedding feast of Cana in order to encourage us in our efforts. Often, very often, and particular in our efforts to support families, we can feel discouraged. It seems that the whole world has lost its bearings and that we will never succeed in bringing some sanity back to marriage as it came forth from God’s plan.

The miracle of Cana reminds us that, when all else fails, recourse to Our Lady can save everything. The situation was desperate for that young couple. There really was nothing that could be done. Fortunately they had invited the Mother of Jesus. If a family invites Mary to live with it, if it has frequent recourse to her, it will persevere, and it will overcome the many obstacles the lie in the way of its fidelity in witnessing to the truth and the beauty of God’s love.

Our Lady’s power of her intercession is sometimes referred to as “suppliant omnipotence”. In other words, she is not almighty like God is, but her prayer obtains everything it asks for. In this particular scene, Our Lady provides for a very earthly need, but one which has a profound symbolism. By water is symbolised the poverty of our efforts at loving God and neighbour. By the wine is symbolised the sweetness of grace that God gives to those who humbly ask for it.

The role of Our Lady in the Church is also signified here. Next to the role of the apostles, which is that of being priests, of defining and safeguarding the dogma of faith, Mary plays another role no less important, one that is summarised in a phrase that the liturgy has long consecrated to her when it says that she alone has overcome all the heresies in the world. How does Mary overcome heresy if she is not a priest, if she is not a doctor of the Church? Mary’s role is one which, as it were, protects the dogma of the faith from the inside. When you remain close to Mary, you develop like her, a sense of the faith. Feminine intuition is a well-known trait that by definition is given more to women than to men. And so it is that Mary gives to her devotees a sense of the faith that tends to perceive danger long before it appears overtly. Those who are truly devoted to Mary share her instinct of faith. They have, as it were, a natural tendency to shun novelties which could lead to a deviation in the faith.

In today’s Epistle, St Paul gives us a list of pithy statements designed to be easily memorised and put into practice. We could say, in a way, that it is a summary of the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. All the virtues of the Christian are there condensed: love, service, fervour of spirit, constant prayer, patience, humility, mercy, joy, fidelity to the truth. The list however is headed by a command that in our day and age we would tend to overlook. The apostle tells us that we must hate evil. For sure, hatred of evil is not an attitude that is a frequent subject of conversation today. And yet, how is it possible to love the good and the truth if one does not hate evil and error? There can be no communion between good and evil just as there can be no dialogue between God and Satan.

There is much fear in the world today, but in reality there is only one thing that we need fear, and that is losing God forever in hell. All else is irrelevant compared to saving our soul, and this is precisely what we need to ask Our Lady of Cana to obtain for us.

In the words of a beloved priest who was a mentor in my early years: “Keep your eye on Heaven as the end and goal of life. There is even a place in purgatory for those who have not desired heaven enough. And if you want Heaven you must love Christ with the most perfect Heart. But only Mary can love Christ with such a heart. But no one can love Mary with a right heart except her Divine Son. Therefore, ask Mary to give you her Heart with which to love her Son and ask her Divine Son to give you His Heart with which to love His Mother and between these two hearts you will find Heaven.”

The Omnipotence Of Prayer