The Gospel of John depicts Mary as involved at the very beginning of Jesus public ministry at the wedding feast at Cana, and again at the very end on the Hill of Calvary. Mary is associated with the whole of his ministry. Looking at the Gospels we see that she was involved at all the key moments in his life.
When the angel Gabriel asked her to be the mother of the Savior (the Annunciation) she set aside her own plans, and sad a generous “yes” to what God was asking. Ministry sometimes means being willing to set our own plans aside, and to answer the call to lend a hand to someone in need.
At the Visitation Mary took the initiative. Upon hearing that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant, she visited her, staying until her child was born. Ministry sometimes means taking the initiative, seeing a need, and responding to it.
At Cana we see Mary’s compassion and sensitivity. She noticed that the wine had run out, threatening to ruin the celebration for the young couple. She wanted to help them, but realized that she could not do it herself. So she turned to Jesus and asked him to help, which he did with great generosity. Ministry at times means noticing a need, but realizing that we cannot handle it ourselves so we have to ask others who can.
During his public life Jesus was surround by the crowds. Mary didn’t understand what he was all about. Certainly there were times when she feared that he was being taken over by others and, like any good mother, wanted to rescue him. However, Jesus knew that he had a mission to carry out. Ministry can involve making mistakes and experiencing frustration and failure. This is not due to a lack of concern but of understanding.
On Calvary Mary stood at the foot of the cross, watching Jesus die. Though she desperately wanted to save him, she was powerless to do so. Sometimes in ministry there is nothing we can do so our only ministry is like that of Mary at the foot of the cross, a silent, supportive presence.
These are only glimpses but a picture of Mary emerges of a compassionate, caring and loving person. Mary is a model of ministry but her role must always be seen in relation to that of her Son. Her role now is that of a mother caring for those who follow him.
All of us are involved in ministry in one way or another: towards one another, in our families, in the parish, and in our local community. Even the work that we do can be seen as a ministry, a service.
Ministry may mean giving things, but more often it is about giving of ourselves. We must be ready for frustration, misunderstanding, failure, powerlessness. But the only thing we have to fear is indifference. The bottom line being that ministry is an expression of love.
In ministry what we are doing is what the servants did at Cana. They were agents of Jesus. They drew out the water that had turned into wine and gave it to the guests. Ever since, Christ’s ministers have been drawing out of the same source. They have been sharing the gifts of Jesus to his Church and to the world. From his fullness we continue to receive and to share.
– Fr. Dennis, January 20, 2019