Mary of humanity, Mary of the poor

SHOWING a deep concern for the newly married couple in Cana, Mary told Jesus, “They have no wine.” Jesus responded, “Woman, how does your concern affect me. My hour has not yet come.” Mary was confident that Jesus would do something about this lack. So she instructed the waiters, saying, “Do whatever he tells you.” Then Jesus did the spectacular miracle of transforming six jars of water into precious wine. 

The dialogue between Mary and Jesus strikes me. Jesus addressed Mary as “woman” instead of mother. What could be the reason for John’s Gospel to write it this way? 

Fr. Ronald Rolheiser suggests an answer. Mary of the Scriptures is not only Jesus’ mother. She is the Mother of humanity. She sees the needs of humanity and presents them to Jesus. 

Mary understands poverty and human suffering. For she too was poor. She too suffered greatly, especially at seeing Jesus rejected and mocked by his own people, crucified and killed on the cross. 

Her succeeding apparitions in the history of the Church also showed her solidarity with the poor and those who suffer. We see it in her apparitions in Fatima, Lourdes, and Tepeyac. Fr. Ron Rolheiser refers to the observation of the great contemporary theologian to indicate this attribute of Mary:

“Karl Rahner once pointed out that when you look at all the apparitions of Mary that have been officially approved by the church you will notice that she has always appeared to a poor person—a child, an illiterate peasant, a group of children, someone without social standing. She’s never appeared to a theologian in his study, to a pope, or to a millionaire banker. She’s always been the person to whom the poor look.  Marian devotion is a mysticism of poor.” (Source: 

In remembering this attribute of Mary, our devotion to her deepens and matures. It goes beyond piety and affection. She becomes for us a model of compassion, care, and service for fellow human beings. She’s an example of an advocate for those in need. 

Let Mary’s concern for others affects us. Let the jars of our hearts be filled with love, generosity, mercy and care for our fellow human beings. Where there is a need, let’s find ways to respond to it. Where there are anxiety and sorrow, let us be channels of peace and joy. Where there is a lack of faith in God, let’s proclaim the varied ways on how our relationship with Jesus has transformed us and brought joy, fulfillment, and meaning to our lives. 

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From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1991-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.

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