The word “dignity” usually conjures up the image of royalty and importance in the eyes of the world. There is a sense of grandeur and something big when we speak of dignity. With God, however, no one is too small and no circumstance too insignificant to get His attention, precisely because of the dignity that He bestowed on each of us at creation.
A great example is the first recorded miracle of Jesus. Using the technique for meditation that comes to us from St. Ignatius, we can apply our imagination to that first recorded miracle at the marriage feast of Cana.
Had I been the advisor to Jesus, I likely would have suggested that his first miracle have the grandeur of raising Lazarus from the dead, but his mother Mary had a different idea. She simply whispered in the ear of Jesus, “They have no more wine.” I imagine that the wine steward likely first whispered in her ear of this “crisis,” perhaps even thinking that he might sell some additional wine. Isn’t it true that sometimes God will use even our less than noble motives to do good? We are told that God draws straight with our crooked lines.
Of course, the hero is Jesus, but the Blessed Mother is the one who pulled a young married couple’s concern into the circle of light of Jesus Christ — into His circle of grace.
As Jesus would later use the generous gift of a few fish and loaves of bread to feed thousands, this time he uses the initiative of a wine steward and the great compassion and sensitivity of His mother who did not want the young couple to be embarrassed.
There is no record of whether the couple ever found out that their wine had gone short nor whether the wine steward was unhappy that no more wine was purchased but simply that the best wine was saved for last. For centuries, our Church has appreciated that model of our Blessed Mother receiving our intercessions and moving us into the circle of the light of Jesus. So great is our dignity that for Jesus, no one and no occasion is too insignificant.
We need miracles like that first miracle of Cana. In prayer, our tendency may be to look into our own lives to see where God‘s light needs to shine.
However, we are called also to be the wine steward who whispers into the ear of the Blessed Mother because of his concern for someone else — such as the young couple at their wedding feast.
Recently I celebrated the annual pro-life Mass at St. Martin of Tours Parish, during which we gave voice to the voiceless child in the womb and gave testimony to the dignity of every human being from the moment of conception to natural death. No circumstance is too small for our attention since life is so precious. The prophet Isaiah in Chapter 62 says that God looked upon the people of Israel and proclaimed that they are not “forsaken” but rather His “delight.”
At this Mass, we prayed for the voiceless child preparing for birth in the womb of her mother. We prayed that we might walk with that mother. For decades, the success of the annual collection for Opportunities for Life has allowed us to reach out to help pregnant women and their families and babies on the way. (For details about the good work supported by your donations, click here.)
Our prayer, if sincere, will always overflow into concrete actions. We also prayed for the courage to stand up for life and for legal protection for the unborn child. As the Supreme Court prepares a decision on the Dobbs case, we know in our hearts that laws not only protect but also promote a culture, which in turn forms and changes hearts.
The miracle of Cana reminds us that no concern is too small and no individual too little, for God imbues each of us with great dignity. Our care for the child in the womb surely will be matched by our care for every person in need, and our joy at the birth of a child will be matched by our joy for every person drawn into the circle of the light of Jesus.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in a sermon at the funeral of four children who died in an Alabama bombing in the 1960s said, “Babies … are the latest news from heaven.” May our courageous and compassionate action for life receive this “news from heaven” with joy and dignity.