Last week while praying the luminous mysteries, I had one of those Moments.
After his baptism, Jesus went into the desert and Satan told him to turn stone into bread. He refused.
After Jesus came out of the desert, he went to a wedding at Cana where Mary asked him to turn water into wine, and he did it.
I backed up a bit and held the two incidents against each other. You’ve got some similarities, of course. Neither stone into bread nor water into wine was strictly necessary (no lives were saved) and both involved a certain degree of showmanship. The stone into bread would have been observed by nobody, actually, whereas the waitstaff and certainly the bridal couple knew about the water into wine. So why do the one and refuse the other?
Well, Satan was pushing Jesus for a sign. He was testing him, telling him what to do, and maybe trying to figure out exactly what kind of ministry Jesus intended to have. Jesus later on creates bread out of nothing (well, out of other bread) so it’s not that Jesus has a philosophical objection to creating bread nor even to feeding people. Jesus had chosen to fast at the time Satan made this demand, and that may be more to the point: Jesus wanted to finish what he’d started.
And there’s also the curious coincidence that the two consumables in this ended up as the foods of the Eucharist; the lack of bread and the lack of wine are behind both potential changes. Maybe both bread and wine needed to emerge from something living rather than something dead, and God’s heart isn’t a heart of stone.
But more than that, I think it was the tone of the asker. Satan told Jesus what to do. Mary only told Jesus the need and let him decide. Jesus says to her, “It’s not my hour,” and she just turns to the waitstaff and says, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Meaning that she knew he could do something. She just wasn’t ordering or demanding, and she didn’t specify her request. Both Mary and Satan knew Jesus had some degree of power in the situation, but Mary left it up to Jesus and Satan tried to push him around.
Several years ago, I started getting “schooled” in a huge mistake I was making in prayer. I never just brought God a problem; instead I’d figure out a solution and pray for the solution. If you think about it, this is good business practice. You don’t go to your boss and say, “The copier is busted.” Instead you say, “The service light is flashing on the copier. I’ve checked the toner and the paper. There’s no paper jam, and I did try to reboot it. I would like to call the service tech.” That’s being responsible.
And maybe it turns out, God doesn’t really want a team of problem-solvers. Maybe we just need to file a bug report and let God do the debugging. And, of course, do whatever he tells us.