Saturday, January 07, 2017

Do Whatever He Tells You

We have this confidence in God, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours.  1 John 5:14-15

When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you." John 2:3-5

"What action shall I perform to attain God?" the disciple asked the elder.
"If you wish to attain God, the elder said, there are two things you must know. The first is that all efforts to attain God are of no avail."
"And the second?" the disciple insisted.
"The second is that you must act as if you did not know the first," the elder said.
(From “The Rule of St. Benedict: Insight for the Ages,” by Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB.)

What is covenant – a big concept used a lot in the Hebrew Bible? 

Let’s illustrate.  Do you have a pet?  Maybe a cat?  Maybe a dog? Our cat (Calla as in lily) will give me the benefit of climbing up in my lap and purring all morning while I drink my coffee or all night while I watch the evening news or NCIS or ESPN.  For that benefit, all I have to do is what she asks…scratch her ears, her head, under her chin, between her shoulder blades.  Calla and I have a covenant. She gives me the pleasure of her company and I give her what she asks.

Our late golden retriever (Belle Watling of Sugar Land) was the happiest dog on the planet.  She would run around, chase the tennis ball, ride in the back of my red pick-up truck, run outside and get the newspaper (hopefully only mine and not the neighbor’s, too).  For the pleasure of her companionship, Belle only asked for food, a nice warm soft doggie bed and little else.

We have a covenant with our pets.  Quid pro quo.  I do this for you.  You do this for me.  Our two readings today are quid and quo.  This.  And that.  In the first reading, we see what God will do for us (“He hears us.”).  In the second reading, we see what Jesus (through Mary) asks us to do for the Lord (“Do whatever he tells you.”).

I am sure that the wine steward and the bridegroom will never forget what happened when they discovered what was really inside those six stone jugs. I guess as the poet said, the water looked at its creator and blushed.  When covenant works, we can really make fine wine, too.

How does your covenant play out with people?  In your family?  In your workplace?  In your classroom?  In your parish?   In your neighborhood? Covenant is not some far away, obscure or ancient concept.  Covenant is what is happening in your close moments with Christ.  

Maybe it is manifest in that thank you note you got for that Christmas gift.  That small note reminds you that you’ll never miss what they will never forget. God continues to intervene in our personal story in new ways every day through Jesus and the people Jesus sends to join our journey and our wedding reception.

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