The Dominican Saint Raymond of Penyafort had a profound influence on the life of the Church in that he helped to codify what we know today as the Code of Canon Law. He was the third Master of the Order and refused a bishopric in order to dedicate himself to parish work and help ordinary people with their spiritual lives. Saint Raymond died in 1275 and was canonised in 1601 by Pope Clement VIII. Saint Raymond is the heavenly patron of civil and canon lawyers.
When it seemed that Our Lord had rebuffed his mother’s request to help a young couple at their wedding reception, Mary didn’t insist that Jesus obey her. As his mother, she probably felt that she had enough influence to make such a request of him. But instead of pressing her case, she humbly stepped back and trusted that Jesus would make the right decision for everyone involved. She trusted her son enough to tell the servants to do whatever he said. She knew he wouldn’t let her down.
Now consider when Mary and Joseph lost Jesus in the Temple. Think, too, about the time in Capernaum when she heard him talking about who his “real” family was. In all three instances, Jesus responded with a question of his own—one that could have sounded disrespectful: “Woman, how does your concern affect me?” “Why were you looking for me?” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” In each instance, Mary didn’t shoot back with sharp words of her own. Instead, she pondered these things in her heart.
As a result, Mary didn’t go away disappointed. At the wedding feast, she saw Jesus bless the couple—and reveal something even more powerful about himself. At the Temple, she sensed that Jesus must have had something very important to say to the elders, or he wouldn’t have left his parents. And at the house in Capernaum, Mary saw how Jesus was calling people to be one body, a church that functioned like a close-knit family.
So let’s take Mary’s approach. Let’s not be shy in telling God what we want or need. Let’s be bold and confident when we talk to him in our prayer. And if we don’t see an answer—or if we don’t like the answer that we get—let’s step back and reflect on what Our Lord is doing and ask for the gift of understanding. We can be confident that, if nothing else, Our Lord will give us a broader and deeper vision so that we can trust him and believe in him more fully. And so, as 2017 opens up for us, let’s wait to see what Our Lord shows us.