Mary’s First and Final Sermon
It is the feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos. As we commemorate it at Church, let us recall her only sermon brought to us by the Gospel.
The Most Holy Theotokos led our Saviour into the world. She is the “Blessed one among all women.” She bore “the blessed fruit of her womb”, and through Him, “all generations henceforth will call her blessed”. Yet she remains remarkably silent throughout the Bible. She makes only one remark in the entire text. At the wedding party in Cana of Galilee, she says: “Whatever He says to you, do it.” (John 2:5). She addresses her words to the servants, but they reach the hearts of the Apostles, and through them, the faithful of all the generations to come, and all of mankind. As the mother of Christ, she may have said many other things, but they never made it to the pages of the Gospels or our memory.
With her reticence, Mary gives us an outstanding example of meekness and humility. Jesus had been invited to the party in Cana, and the feast was to last for seven days, as the Jewish law commanded. (Genesis 29:27; Judges 14:12-15).
Christ accepts the invitation to preclude anyone from thinking of marriage as a transgression or intemperance. He comes on the third day of the feast. By the time of his arrival, the wine for the guests runs out – suggesting that the hosts were not very rich.
The Mother of God knows about the shortage. She tells her son, hopeful that He would intervene and save the feast. But the Saviour replies: “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4). Then Mary says to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” As we know from the Gospel account, Jesus instructs the servants to fill the waterpots with water. He asks them to draw some of this water, and when they do, the water not only becomes wine but is also greatly superior to the wine they had served before. The evangelist concludes: “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.” (John 2:11).
The Mother of God’s made her brief but meaningful remark before Her son entered the path of preaching. She addressed them to every human being. It was her wish and request to all of us that we would obey the will of Her Son, our Saviour.
To Bishop Philatret (Drozdov), her words were an expression of Her love and grace. She appealed to her son on our behalf, as she will continue to do until the end of time. Yet her intercession is never an exercise of her parental power, not in the least. She only communicates a need.
The Bible mentions the Mother of God for the last time in the Book of Acts (1:4). There, she continues with one accord in prayer and supplication, with Christ’s disciples, the women and His brothers. Again, she is silent.
“What He tells you to do, do it.” These are the only words of the Mother of God that the Apostles choose to relay to us. They convey little else, most likely, because She never wanted them. To this day, her words have served us a lesson in humility, temperance and attention to prayer, as we stand before the One Whom she had brought into the world.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds