“When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servers,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
This well-known account from the Gospel according to John has a happy ending but betrays a kind of reticence on the part of Jesus to help his mother out of an embarrassing situation. The enigmatic question “how does your concern affect me” is followed by the equally mysterious statement “my hour has not yet come”. Even though Mary may very well have been confused by her son’s response, she instructed the servants to do whatever Jesus told them. More than just “blind faith”, Mary exhibited a firm trust that Jesus would attend to her request in the most loving way possible.
If prayer is viewed as a dialogue consisting of a “back and forth” exchange with God, we can see that, often, a conclusion is not immediately reached. There is a give and take to conversation that attempts to achieve clarification. Mary cut the conversation short by effectively surrendering to divine providence. Her instruction to the servants is advice that stemmed from her obedience to God’s will, and her faith.
Another conversation involving a request for help and a protracted response comes to mind in Scripture:
“Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us. “He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.” (Matthew 15:21-28)
The interactions that took place between Jesus and his mother and with the Canaanite woman underscore the value of true dialogue in prayer. If we experience apparent silence or indifference at first, we can persist through faith. God’s “last word” will never disappoint.