When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” (John 2:3)
It is a great inspiration of the Spirit that the church has chosen the first day of the year to celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. In this feast, the church gives us a wonderful opportunity to evaluate the acts of the past year, to ask ourselves how well we imitated Jesus’ and Mary’s love and humility, and to ponder all these things in our hearts.
Something I have pondered on quite a bit in the past year is Mary’s call to pray for the conversion of a great many sinners. St. Paul tells us in Romans 5:8, “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” I have wondered, is my love that deep? Probably the description one verse earlier is more appropriate to me: “Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.” But for sinners? What am I willing to give up for abortionists, pedophiles and terrorists?
It is unlikely that any of us will be asked to physically die for sinners. But are we not, as penitents, asked every day to die to self for their sake? I have pondered my own prayer life and evaluated how much of it I devote to sinners and how much to other needs. It is a hard question, but one worth asking given the times we live in and the urgency with which our Blessed Mother has asked for our prayers for sinners.
Over the past several months, I have felt called to pray almost exclusively for sinners. At first I wondered how this might play out. After all, are we not supposed to pray for our own needs? The church and Holy Scripture teach us that God wants us to ask him for things. But I felt this call, so I stepped out in faith. Then, what I thought might be difficult, God made easy–as always!
We get a hint of the spiritual dynamics of this at the wedding feast at Cana. The bridegroom himself made no request for help–indeed he did not even know he could. The Blessed Mother saw the needs of the hosts and placed them before her Son on their behalf. She responded in love and grace as only she can.
This has been the spiritual dynamic of my call. Almost every prayer I pray and sacrifice I make is offered for the “conversion of a great many sinners through the Immaculate Heart of Mary”. My own needs, desires, intentions, all those God has given me to pray for, all who have asked for my prayers, all those who should have asked for my prayers, I place in the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Flame of Love. She gives them to her Son who turns the water of my prayers into the wine of blessing.
Now, when someone asks me for prayers, I place those intentions in the Immaculate Heart and offer a prayer for sinners. If I have a need, I place it in the Immaculate Heart and pray for sinners. I take care of her business and she takes care of mine.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6: 33, “But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” Is not the kingdom–that is, salvation for all–the “one thing necessary” that Jesus spoke about to Mary and Martha? “I thirst!” Jesus cried from the cross. Are we not called to quench his thirst for souls by linking our prayers and sacrifices to his for the sake of the kingdom?
We do not know what the coming year will bring. But Jesus has asked Mary to call us to pray for sinners. Let us follow her admonition to do whatever he tells us. May his kingdom come for all, and come quickly.