“Like Mary, let us be guided by the purest of intents in the smallest of actions.” (Adelaide de Cice, September 7, 1809)
One of my daily active prayer practices is one that is known as the Welcoming Prayer which was developed by Contemplative Outreach and is meant to help us to be contemplatives in action.
It is a prayer that is especially used when I am experiencing some emotional reaction because my need for a sense of security, affection and/or control are frustrated. As a part of the prayer, after recognizing and accepting how I am feeling, I consciously state that “I let go of my desire for security, affection and control.” I especially see a connection between this statement and doing whatever God tells me to do.
As stated in previous posts, John 2, 5 is a call for faith and trust in God, which means giving all over to God, especially the desire to control a situation. It is a call to listen to what God is telling us in each situation and respond accordingly while not letting perceived needs for security, affection and/or control take precedence over the will of God in a situation.
In reflecting on the Virgin Mary’s life, I cannot help but think that she definitely was a contemplative in action, given the frequent statements of her pondering things in her heart. Mary, to me, is an excellent example of an individual who put the Welcoming Prayer into action in her life on a regular basis beginning with the Annunciation until her death given that she faced challenges related to security, affection and control throughout her life, yet remained open to God’s will in her life.
As I reflect on the Mary and Jesus’ actions at the wedding at Cana, I cannot help but to see how they give us an example of a practical application of what we are called to do by Pope Francis in this Holy Year of Mercy, that is to “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6, 36. Mary was the first to realize that something had to be done and rather than just let it pass, out of a sense of what could be seen as mercy, went to Jesus and made him aware of the situation. Jesus’ initial response could be seen as a rejection of her request and thus cause her to have her sense of affection and esteem negatively impacted. She truly had no control over the situation or Jesus for that matter, however, she chose to trust and tell the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do. Although Jesus’ response to Mary was one that implies a lack of concern about the situation, it surely was an act of mercy on his part in changing the water into wine rather than have the bride and groom suffer embarrassment over running out of wine.
In Luke 8, 21 Jesus is quoted as saying that his “mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” Multiple commentators state that this quote is not a rejection of Mary but an affirmation of her because she definitely heard the word of God and kept it, thus becoming one of Jesus’ original disciples. Her actions at the wedding can be seen as an act of love as well as mercy.
Running out of wine, as opposed to the need to be healed or brought back to life, can be seen as insignificant in comparison, however, that did not stop Jesus from acting out of love and mercy. We are all called to “hear the word of God, and keep it,” so should we not also follow the example of Mary and Jesus in the seemingly small events of our daily lives as well as the more extraordinary?’
Although we cannot always foretell what events will occur during the day in which we are called to be merciful and loving to others, I would like to invite you periodically throughout your day to ask yourself, “How can I act in a loving and merciful way in any difficult situation that I expect to encounter today?” “Who needs to hear a good word from me today, especially those who seem overburdened or weary?” “How can I be merciful to others by putting their needs before my own?” I would also like to invite you either at the end of the day or midday, to look back on the day and ask yourself, “Where have I followed the example of Jesus and Mary and acted in a merciful and loving way?” and “In what situations today did I miss the opportunity to act in a loving and merciful way, failing to do whatever he tells me to do?