I consider wine to be a food group, which is why I blend in with Italians. Wine is part of the meal and to exclude it would cheapen the dining experience. Even Jesus enjoyed wine with his friends.
In one of my favorite Bible passages in John’s Gospel, Jesus is at a friend’s wedding. And what are they doing? Drinking wine, of course! Yet, Mary the Mother of Jesus goes up to him and reveals that all of the wine is gone. She then tells the servers working the wedding party, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). Jesus instructs the servants to fill jars with water and gives them various directions to empty some and bring it to the headwaiter.
The headwaiter, unknowing of this discourse between servers and Jesus, tries some of the water from the jar and is amazed at the high quality of wine in it. He exclaims to the bridegroom that most people serve the good wine first and then what might now be considered the “college kid budget” wine after when all of the guests are too tipsy to notice. Jesus’ first miracle, according to John, is turning water into wine.
This Bible story is great for so many reasons (water being turned into wine .. I mean come on), yet there is an even more beautiful message to be revealed in Mary’s words, “Do whatever he tells you to.” I never gave that much thought until last week.
When we went to Mass in the chapel of the Pontifical Irish College, I immediately noticed the beautiful stained glass windows with abstract messages hidden within them. In one of the windows, I made out a few words “do”, “whatever”, “he.” I squinted my eyes and examined the window again, trying to put together a cohesive sentence.
With the help of my classmates, we finally determined that the window said, “Do whatever he tells you to do” (quoting Mary in this miracle story in John’s Gospel). I thought that my deciphering of the hidden words of the stained glass and the message, itself, couldn’t be more appropriate.
We are called to listen to God and to decipher who He wants each of us to be and what He wants us to do. Sounds simple, yet it is probably one of the hardest things that people struggle with. God doesn’t just shout from the heavens what He wants us to do (if only it were that easy), but He’s given us the most beautiful love letter — the Bible, in which He expresses how we are created out of love and are called to love. However, we still have to decipher how to live that out and “do whatever He tells [us] to do.”
And that’s what makes the deciphering tough, just like finding the words in the stained glass window. Just because this is challenging, though, does not mean we should simply give up. Like the words in the stained glass window, we should continue to study God’s Word and our faith and really work at it. The more we work at it, the better we are able to see nuances in the stained glass window and eventually make out some of the words.
By discussing with my classmates the stained glass window, I was able to see words that normally I wouldn’t have been able to notice without their help. Faith is just this way. We are a COMMUNITY of faith. We must share our thoughts, our questions, our hopes, and our doubts with each other to begin a conversation that truly matters. In these conversations, we can really grow deeper in faith and see things with a new perspective. Sometimes in these conversations, we are able to hear the voice of God through our friends who offer encouragement, solace, and comfort.
I truly wish there were more opportunities for young people to discuss faith with each other. Many young people are turned away or frowned upon when they begin asking tough questions about religion and faith, which is a sincere tragedy.
Instead, we should promote these conversations because it shows that they are thinking and truly trying to understand it which is necessary to having a faith life. One needs both faith AND reason. As Pope John Paul II wrote, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.” They are not exclusive of each other, but are both necessary and enhance the other.
Therefore, if a teacher teaches a lesson on chemistry and the next day a student comes back to class with challenging questions or wanting to know more than what they were presented the day before, and the teacher brushes them off and tells them to figure it out on their own, what are they going to learn?! They’ll walk away defeated, discouraged, and uneducated. This can be related to young Catholics everywhere. I feel that God is calling me to try to create opportunities for young people to discuss and learn about their faiths, so that they can learn how much they are loved and vital to the pulse of humanity.
Our faith is not just words plastered on a wall for us to read and follow. No! Instead, it is like the stained glass window with the concealed message that we must study, discuss, and work at until we can begin to make out the words. Let us listen to God’s voice as he beckons us to love, so that we can “do whatever he tells [us] to do.” – Meaghan Osborne