“How does your concern affect me?

Today we read in John 2:1-11 about the beginning of Jesus the Christ’s public ministry. He attends a wedding with his disciples and his mother, Mary. Dear Mary realizes that the newly married couple has run out of wine, and she entreats Jesus to help them.

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.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told them,
“Fill the jars with water.”
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
“Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
— although the servers who had drawn the water knew —,
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
“Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now.”
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.

When I first read this passage many years ago, I wondered if Jesus was being callous when he answered Mary, “how does your concern affect me?” Then realizing this was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry I wondered if perhaps He was a bit timid – afraid. He may have known where it ultimately led and here He was, taking that first fateful step. And yet, there’s another way of looking at this reading.

Many people today are callous or indifferent to the plight of others. When someone points out the poverty or homelessness or hunger of another, people sometimes ask, “How does your concern affect me?” Or, “That’s not my problem – let them get a job!” And I wonder if it might not also be fear — what difference can I make with so many poor, so many hungry, so many homeless, with the complexity of today’s problems?

Well, Jesus led the way through example. He did something about it. No excuses.

True, Jesus’ mother was there to push Him, although I think it was more to encourage Him. And Jesus was the Son of God, so He had powers we don’t have. But Jesus was also the Son of Man — every bit as human as we are, except that he didn’t sin. And if He can take action to help the least among us, then so can we.

“How does your concern affect me?” you wonder. It obligates you to act.

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