Given at Mt. St. Mary Seminary of the West
Cincinnati, OH – February 11, 2004
Father Mike Seger


Picture a child about to try
A stunt fraught with danger.

He turns to his panicked mother, saying
“Don’t worry, Mom, I won’t get hurt.” 

And Mother replies, “Famous last words!”

Odd how we humans
Often record “famous last words”
Some witty, many profound.


A certain “ultimacy” surrounds a person’s dying words--
After all, they can never be edited, taken back or nuanced.


Two Examples of Famous Last Words to Begin With:

The famous and in some ways infamous British writer,
Oscar Wilde, lay dying in the luxurious George V Hotel in Paris
And supposedly quipped, “I’m dying beyond my means.”
 

On a more serious note the founder of the Christian Brothers,
St. Jean-Baptiste de La Salle looking back on his journey of faith,
A journey that took him from wealth to poverty, from prestige to persecution,
Wanted to impress upon the Brothers the spiritual core of that journey,
This spiritual core being
The faith that the Loving Father guided him at every turn in the road.
He witnesses to this core of La Sallian Spirituality
Absolute trust in Divine Providence.
 

He tells the brothers gathered around his death bed,
“I adore in all things the will of God in my regard.”

There are no accidents--only deeper calls to faith.

In a sense as we gather
At the wedding feast of Cana,
We have Our Blessed Mother’s last words--
Not at Mary’s death bed,
But her last recorded words in the Gospels:
“Do whatever he tells you.”

Mary tells the servants
“Do whatever he tells you.”

This gentle command
Follows a famous bit of dialogue in John’s Gospel.
 

Mary--perhaps responding to panicked pleas from the host and hostess--old friends no doubt,--approaches her son and merely speaks the need,
Gently, perhaps quietly, so as to avoid embarrassing her friends.

“They have no wine.”
 

Her confidence in the compassion of her son moves her.
Even his reply with its mysterious reference
To his Hour not yet come does not phase her –
She knows her son.   

Pretend you are filming this scene at Cana.
How would you have directed this scene?
 

Would Mary smile that universal mother smile?
Gently squeeze Jesus’ arm with that gesture that speaks volumes?

After all, raising a child who is the Son of God
Must have had its moments!

 But more importantly are her final words:
“Do whatever He tells you.”
  

What follows reveals the infinite bounty of God’s compassion,
The bounty Isaiah sings with full voice:

  • Water into wine
  • And gallons and gallons of the finest wine

This celebration promises more than any mundane dreams can muster.
 

This evening we gather confident that

Mary still brings human needs to her beloved Son,
Trusting in His heart that first beat beneath her breasts.
 

She still brings our needs to her Son.
 

With the same immaculate simplicity
We hear, “They have no wine.”
  

Their baby daughter has a terrible fever.    
◊ This dear old woman grows a bit confused.
His heart is heavy with loneliness.
◊ They love each other but seem tongue-tied right now.
◊ His sister is undergoing tests.
◊ This young husband lost his young wife.

Then she whispers in the midst of our prayers
Offered to her care:
“Do whatever he tells you."
Her words help us touch the depth of God’s compassion,
The compassion she nursed and she worships.
 

Pilgrims crowd her shrine at Lourdes
Confident of her maternal care
As she stands at the side of her glorified Son.


We gather at her Son’s altar
To enter into the mystery of transformation
And sacrifice, her gentle beckoning served
Amid the color and joy of the wedding feast.


With her we gather to celebrate Christ’s
Loving pledge of future glory:
The eternal wedding feast.
 

We gather remembering water changed into wine,
And beneath her trusting gaze
With her we enter into and celebrate the mystery
Of wine that has become salvation.
 

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