Is. 62:1-5; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; John 2:1-12
Today's Reading from the Gospel of John narrates the wedding at Cana when Jesus performed His first public miracle by changing the water into wine.
"On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, 'They have no wine.'”
During the celebration, the wine supply ran out. Mary must have known the bride and groom well and didn’t want anything to bring down the excitement. She felt the need of the family and brought it to the attention of Jesus.
This is a true story that had happened in 1892 at Stanford University. An 18-year-old student and a friend were struggling to pay school fees. He was an orphan, and not knowing where to turn for money, he came up with a bright idea. His friend and he decided to host a musical concert on campus to raise money. They wouldapply the earnings from the event to offset their unpaid board and tuition. They reached out to the great pianist Ignacy J. Paderewski. His manager demanded a guaranteed fee of $2000 for the piano recital. A deal was struck.
And the boys began to work to make the concert a success. The big day arrived. Paderewski performed at Stanford. But unfortunately, they had not managed to sell enough tickets. The total collection was only $1600.
After the concert the two boys told the great artist the bad news. They gave him the entire $1,600, along with a promissory note for $400, explaining that they would earn the amount at the earliest possible moment and send the money to him. It looked like the end of their college careers.
“No, boys,” replied Paderewski, “that won’t do.” Then, tearing the note in two, he returned the money to them as well. “Now,” he told them, “Take out of this $1,600 all of your expenses and keep for each of you 10 percent of the balance for your work. Let me have the rest.”
The boys were surprised, and thanked him profusely. It was a small act of kindness. But it clearly marked out Paderewski as a great human being.
Twenty years rolled by. World War I Paderewski became the Prime Minister of Poland. Unfortunately at the end of the World War, Poland was ravage. There were more than 1.5 million people starving in his country, and no money to feed them. Paderewski reached out to the US Food and Relief Administration for help. The head, there was a man named Herbert Hoover — who later would go on to become the US President. Hoover agreed to help and quickly shipped tons of food grains to feed the starving Polish people. A calamity was averted.
Paderewski decided to go and meet Hoover and personally thank him. When Paderewski began to thank Hoover for his noble gesture, Hoover quickly interjected and said,
“You shouldn’t be thanking me Mr. Prime Minister. You may not remember this, but many years ago, you helped two young students go through college in the US. I was one of them.”
One act of unselfishness stands out as a beacon for others to follow.
That is what mother Mary did at the Wedding at Cana. She felt the need of the family and acted immediately without being noticed. And in a way commanded Jesus to take care of that. Her words to the servants are a proof of it. 'Do whatever he tells you.'
In the Gospels we find many instances where Mary goes out to help others. When she heard that Elizabeth was with child, Mary felt the need of Elizabeth to be served. “Mary left Nazareth immediately after the Annunciation and went "into the hill country... into a city of Judah” to attend to her cousin Elizabeth.’’ She never wasted any chance to bring a smile to the face the needy.
The proverb says, "Don't withhold good from someone who deserves it, when it is in your power to do so.” (Proverbs 3:27) When you do have the ability and the opportunity to help someone, it's important that you do so. You can't solve all the world's problems, but you can be a positive force in the lives you encounter.
When the Nigerian billionaire Femi Otedola in a telephone interview was asked, “Sir what can you remember that made you the happiest man in life?”
He said: “I have gone through four stages of happiness in life and finally I Understood the true meaning of happiness.
The first stage was to accumulate wealth and means. But at this stage I did not get the happiness I wanted. Then came the second stage of collecting valuables and things. But I realized the effect of this thing is also temporary and the luster of the valuable things does not last long. Then came the third stage of getting big projects. That was when I was holding 95% of diesel supply in Nigeria and Africa. I was also the largest vessel owner in Africa and Asia. But even here I did not get the happiness I had imagined. The fourth stage was the time a friend of mine asked me to buy wheelchair for some disabled children. Just about 200 kids.
At the friend’s request I bought the wheelchairs. But he insisted that I should go with him and hand over the wheelchairs to the children. So I went with him. I gave the wheel chairs to the children. I saw the strange glow of happiness on the faces of these children. I saw them all sitting on the wheelchairs, moving around and having fun.
I felt real joy. When I decided to leave one of the kids grabbed my legs. I tried to free my legs gently but the child stared at my face and held my legs tightly. I bent down and asked the child: “Do you need something else?”
The child said, “I want to remember your face so that when I meet you in heaven, I will be able to recognize you and thank you once again.”
The answer of the child reminds us to think what would we be remembered for after we leave our office or place. Whenever we read and hear about the wedding at Cana, we remember two people. Mary and Jesus who brought smile to the face of the family.
Dear brothers and sisters we need not change water into wine or stone into bread to bring smile to the people. Our little acts of kindness can do miracles in the lives of people around us.