By Caralyn, of BeautyBeyondBones
“Do whatever He tells you.” John 2:5.
Ah, the Wedding at Cana. If the Gospel had a “Top Hits” billboard list, then this story would easily be in the Top Five, no question.
Anyone who has spent any time in kneelers will readily recognize with warm familiarity, Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into wine in John, Chapter 2, which we heard in the Gospel this Sunday.
And we Catholics, in particular, love this passage in the Bible, because not only is it the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, but it also nods to Jesus’ most precious Blood in the Eucharist.
I personally love it because, like any young, single New Yorker, I love a good party, and goodness knows that the key to a successful soirée is the perfect playlist to create the atmosphere, a compatible mix of people, and plenty of good wine to go around.
But as I was reading the Gospel today, I saw this story with new eyes: a single phrase jumped off the page that gave me an entirely new perspective on this beloved “Old Reliable” reading.
“Do whatever He tells you.” John 2:5
Five little words that pack a wallop of a punch.
Spoken by Mary to the party’s servants, after the wine ran out at the wedding.
Do whatever He tells you.
This short phrase has actually been incredibly instrumental in my life.
Having battled a severe case of anorexia during high school, ten years ago now, it was clear to see that my pride was literally destroying me. I was headstrong, and obstinate, and very, very sick.
And I did not want to go to inpatient treatment to recover from my eating disorder. At eighteen years old, with over 40 pounds to gain, I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do, or how to live my life.
But then God stepped in.
At inpatient, there was really only one thing that healed my anorexia. It wasn’t their nutrition education program, nor their self love workshops. It wasn’t filling my mind with positive affirmations, or practicing “mindfulness” coping mechanism. Nope. It was one thing: Jesus.
I was terrified to let go of my eating disorder, and put on that weight. I was alone, across the country from my family in a sterile and unfamiliar environment. And the only thing I could do was cling to God. Every single day, I poured over my Bible. And read through the Psalms, finding camaraderie with the Psalmists, many of whom were lamenting in prison, or facing persecution or death. I felt a personal connection with them. So I cried out to God. I clung to His words in the Gospels, and found strength and hope and courage in Him.
And the Wedding Feast at Cana was one of the stories I remember reading at inpatient. I remember sitting there on my cot at the nurses’ station — a bed that they had makeshifted for me to sleep in during my first several weeks there, as my case was so severe that they needed to monitor my vitals throughout the night to make sure my heart didn’t stop. But I remember sitting there and reading this story from the glow of the computers and reception desk lamps late one night. And I thought, “Wow, if Jesus can transform water into wine, maybe He can transform me, too.”
And I clung to that hope. To that imagery. To that promise. Jesus can take even the most dire of situations and give them new life, and turn them around. Not just with adequate wine, but the best wine. And ten years later, as a whole, healthy and thriving young woman, I can tell you that His promise was true.
We are that new wine. He can and will take our lives and turn them into new wine.
But we have to surrender it.
“Do whatever He tells you.”
Leave it to the Blessed Mother to tell it to us straight.
Mary, here, knows what Jesus wants from us: our surrender. Our trust. Our faith.
We have to hand it over so that Jesus can do what He does best: restore, rebuild and renew.
And just like at Cana, when He does, it “so reveal[s] His glory.” (John 2:11). Not ours, but His.
At inpatient, I had to surrender my pride. I had to surrender all the hidden aspects of my anorexia that I was holding onto: my fear of weight gain, my secrecy and manipulation, my body image issues, my addiction to exercise. I had to give it to Him, and then do whatever He told me.
I made a pact with myself. I even wrote about it in my journal. It says: “Lord, I am going to eat everything you place in front of me. I’m not afraid anymore. You have equipped me to win the battle. I love you, Lord.”
And I did. We did – Jesus and I, together. And to this day, ten years in, I still follow that same motto, doing whatever He tells me, in order to protect my recovery. That looks like continually nourishing myself, being gentle with my body when it comes to exercise, spending intentional time with Jesus and His Word, seeing myself and others through God’s eyes, not having a full length mirror, and turning down situations like attending NY Fashion Week fashion shows, in order to protect my mind from negative thoughts.
Because yes, faith is highly mental and spiritual, but it is also a very physical and active practice as well.
My final thought today, is that at Cana, though the situation was bleak and seemingly doomed, Mary’s faith never wavered. She never once doubted that Jesus can and would deliver a miracle.
Because that’s just what Jesus does, and has proven time and time again.
He takes all things, and makes them new.
“For when your wine’s all gone and your well runs dry, open your hands and look into my eyes; all that you see here you’ll soon leave behind, so open your hands and look into my eyes.” – Audrey Assad – Wherever You Go
About the Author:
Caralyn is the writer and speaker behind the blog, BeautyBeyondBones. It has recently been named one of the Top Three Eating Disorder Recovery Sites on the WorldwideWeb. She’s a twenty-something actress and writer in New York City. Having battled a severe case of anorexia and Ulcerative Colitis, she now uses her story of total restoration to positively impact others, and offer Christ’s hope and encouragement for those with eating disorders, and other forms of adversity. Her book, Bloom is now available!