Google+ Badge

Thursday, September 26, 2013

THE HEBREW LETTERS OF THE ALPHABET: The Channels, the Categories, and the Meanings Part I

Introduction

I often refer to the mystical meanings of the Hebrew alphabet in the words of the Old Testament in order to explain a theological point in the scriptures. I have also been known to discuss the numerology associated with each letter and word to show the depth of every passage, and its mystical intent. This is a critical part of understanding the scriptures, primarily because it helps us to connect and understand the language used by God to create the universe and the Law. By understanding the language God speaks, we can begin to understand His mind.

The scripture begins with God brooding over the chaos that must be contained for olam, or what we would call the universe. It is no wonder that the very first letter of the Old Testament book of Genesis is the Beis. The letter beis means container. It also tells us that there is a fence around what we see in the material world, that it has dimension, mass, and a beginning and an end. One end is open on the beis, as though we could enter into the heart of the letter and sit on the dagesh, or the circle or dot in the center, to be a part of the space within, and look out into the universe from a stool made just for us by God. The mystical aspects of the Old Testament comes to life when you plumb the depths of this letter, to see its implications in interpreting scripture and applying it to our lives. Imagine what mysteries all the letters hold for us if we take the time to study them. The Hebrew sages believed God left these letters as stepping stones for us to tread upon, to follow Christ to Heaven, to follow the road laid down for us to find our destiny and know God more intimately. The letters, in a sense, are the rungs on Jacob's Ladder, where we can have direct access to Heaven when we pray, study the scripture, and even dream answers to our problems just as Jacob did.

By studying the letters in a more meaningful way, scriptural oddities or confusing passages come to life with meaning, contradictions are no longer contradictions but enhancements, and what was once confusing becomes clear, adding to our understanding of the wonders God has in store for us when we follow Him toward our destiny.

Categories

There are twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. These are called the twenty-two channels of Divine creative consciousness. What this means is that each letter represents an aspect of the creative mind of God. The Hebrew sages believe that through the study of each letter's meaning and power, they could literally touch the mind of God, understand creation in a deeper way, and, therefore pray more effectively. An expression they use is: Praying with fire. As Christians, we know that by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we are putting on the mind of God, that we are praying with fire, the fire of the Holy Spirit. In the Acts of the Apostles 2: 1-4 the coming of the Holy Spirit is described as tongues of fire lighting upon each person. Christ's death and resurrection purchased for us the ability to call upon the Holy Spirit to guide us up that heavenly ladder, and while there we may come face-to-face with our Lord and God. However, even the most devout must learn to not become complacent, to feel as though they have nothing left to learn, or to think we have salvation locked up because one time we prayed a prayer to accept Jesus into our lives, that all we must do is read the scripture daily, commit it to memory, and seat our fanny in a pew every Sunday. There's more to it than that. We must strive to understand, to tikkun or repair what has been broken by knowing there is much more to do before we rest in God on that glorious day of resurrection.

Studying the scriptures by learning the language of God, the Hebrew of the Old Testament, enables us to understand the Who, the What, the Where, and the Why of God's creation. As children we learn our language by speaking it, naming things and describing emotions. When we are old enough to understand, we go to school and learn the alphabet of our language, the grammar and punctuation. This is where we begin. You are now going to school and learning the alphabet.

Each letter is like the marks or symbols on a builder's blueprint, and each symbol represents a world of meaning all its own. When we combine those worlds we create an entire universe, a structure that is transubstantiated into a spiritual whole. Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi said, "For the Torah (the five books of Moses) and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one." You cannot separate God from His language, for He is the language.

We begin by dividing the Letters into three categories:

  • Three "Mother" or "Primary" letters: Alef, Mem, and Shin
  • Seven "Double" letters: Bet, Gimel, Dalet, Kaf, Peh, Resh, and Tav
  • and Twelve "Elemental" letters: Heh, Vav, Zayin, Chet, Tet, Yod, Lamed, Nun, Samekh, Eyin, Tzadi, and Kuf

The Mothers or Primary Forces

The three Mother or Primary letters comes from the Hebrew word Binah, meaning understanding. The sages derive the word Mother for the word understanding from Proverbs 2: 3, "For you shall call Understanding a Mother." The three mother letters are believed to usher our consciousness through the portal of the transcendental, much like my description of the letter Beis where we enter into a room or a fenced area. There we have entered and sat on our little stool to watch the beginnings of creation as they stretch out before us forming worlds of words. As we exit through the portal, we are able to be guided through the rest of the language of God, letter by letter, like the stepping stones I mentioned before, or the rungs of a ladder that we must climb, like Jacob. When we understand something, it becomes a part of us, and spurs our ability to grow in knowledge and wisdom. Understanding, then, is our birth into the spiritual realm, as though the womb is the container where we were formed, and we are born once we exit that primary container, our entrance into a new life in the spiritual world.

In Exodus 31: 3, God says, "I have filled him with the spirit of God, with Wisdom, with Understanding, and with Knowledge." Likewise, in Proverbs 3:19, 20, the scripture says, "With Wisdom God established the earth, and with Understanding, He established the Heavens, and with His Knowledge, the depths were broken up." How could we possibly gain any knowledge of heavenly things without first understanding with God's Wisdom, and not our own.

The three letters, alef, mem, and shin spell out the word Emesh, meaning yesternight. This refers to the impenetrable gloom of waste and desolation. Job 30:3 refers to this in discussing the state of creation before God spoke, "Let there be light." Laban speaks to Jacob, "The God of your fathers last night said to me," in Genesis 31:29. This can be read in this way, "The God of your fathers, Emesh, said to me." Jacob also uses this term, "And Emesh gave me judgment," Genesis 31:43. They are both referring to the God who created language, who created the universe, without whom they would not even exist, that this God exercised judgment in the creation of the universe and man, as He hovered above the gloom and desolation. Emesh then is God in Genesis 1: 2, when everything existed only in His Mind where nothing was separated. Creation was one with the Holy One, as were we.

These Mothers or Primary letters represent cause, effect, and their synthesis between these two opposites. Shin is cause, Mem is effect, and Alef is the synthesis between these two. The correlation between the Trinity, the holy number three, is apparent in the discussion of this principle. There is an even deeper level of understanding that the three Mothers are the reconciliation of opposites. The sacrament of Reconciliation applies this principle. We are in sin, headed in the opposite direction from God. God desires us to turn around and walk toward Him. The priest is the principle that helps the synthesis; he points, he applies grace, he recommends ways to amend, he is the council that represents the entire community wishing to draw us back in. This concept cannot be penetrated through logic and it remains a mystery. Think about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father permeates and is everything spiritual and physical. The Son is physical and spiritual, but is confined within the structure of a human body. These are seemingly diametrically opposed concepts. However, the Holy Spirit connects the two in a way that we cannot fathom through logic. We must accept this on faith that we can only receive from the Holy Spirit. We then know, we understand the Truth of it.

The Dimensions of Reality

Each of the letters in these three categories are related in a one-to-one correspondence to an individual element of the three dimensions of what we perceive as created reality. They are:

  • Text Space Form of Letters
  • Number Time Numerical Value
  • Communication Living Soul Pronunciation and Name of Letters

According to the sages, the letters all have form and they occupy space. They have a corresponding number and exist in time. The letters communicate the Living Soul of God to us. These are the three methods of interpretation of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet.

Summary

We will begin the study the doubles and elementals in the next post. As for now, it is enough to understand the basic principles expressed in the Primary or Mother forces. There is much to learn and I will post the rest part by part.

I employ this study of the Hebrew letters directly into my novel, The Garden of Souls. The entire last half has to do with the letters of God's name and their implications for us as believers. The hero Liam must use these letters to open the doors leading to his destiny.

Friday, September 20, 2013

THE REVELATION: A Short Story





The lie lay between us like a long, tapered sword, and when I turned this way or that, the metal would make a slight cut across my middle. I knew eventually I would die from a thousand tiny cuts before I could make it right between us, before I found the right words to say to him. I am that sort of coward. Even though I would have preferred the lie become invisible, like my courage, or that it would die from lack of attention in that feckless dark spot in my mind, I knew it wouldn't. The darn thing had taken on a life of its own. That foolish lie would never leave me alone. I had repeated it too many times.
He hadn't left the room where I last saw him. He was in the same position, his head cast down, his long dark hair brushed behind his ears, except for one strand that grazed his cheek. He looked a little bruised in the light from the window, the blue curtain always played its thready tricks whenever the sun washed through it. I wanted him to lift his eyes, to look at me with those puppy dog brown eyes of his, to engage my attention. A sigh escaped my lips, but he didn't seem to hear it.
I took a step closer, hoping that he would hear me enter the room, raise his head, and ask me what I wanted, but he was rapt in his work, lost in the concerns of all those other people. I cleared my throat softly. It was almost an imperceptible noise, but just loud enough that it would rise above the noise of the air conditioner that blew wildly through the vents. He continued to focus on his work, not ignoring me, just unaware of my presence.
He was concentered, and seemed to be wrestling with a singular foe, his gaze fixed intently on that one thing. I couldn't tell what he was thinking, or even if he believed that he would win the battle against the unseen force. I suddenly saw him differently. Before this moment, I had never given a thought about how or why he did his work, let alone its importance. His business reeked of triviality to me, a mythic adventure conjured to outrageous proportions in his mind. I never dreamed one person could care so much about what he did, because I never cared much about anything.
A strange admiration bubbled up inside of me, a sensation I never felt before. Perhaps it was because I had never seen him until this moment, for I had never taken the time to look that hard. He was beautiful, with an aura of generosity about him while he applied himself to his work. He had always been an abstraction to me before this, a part of the tableau of what my life should look like; marriage, family, and home. Even when I consented to be with him, the words I spoke were never wedded to the center of my being. They were just words, words of convenience, words I had to speak because it was expected of me in that ceremony. Our relationship had always been one of passing indifference, until I began to feel that lie take life and begin to assault me with such purpose.
Yes, the lie, that stupid, huge lie I continued to tell to get out of being with him, to be somewhere else, with someone else. The lie seemed to bloom before my eyes while I stared at him, and envelope every decision I ever made, as though my life was filled with lies, one attaching itself to the next in a never ending parade that marched through my years. That sudden revelation of my wastrel life began to crush me, to wring me out like an old dishrag until I was empty. It wasn't his work that was the triviality, it was me. There was a littleness in me I had always refused to recognize. I could almost see it in my reflection in the mirror above the dresser, and it made me look pinched and small, ugly.
I fell to my knees before the crucifix, my shame poured out onto the floor. "Jesus, I can't . . ." my voice cracked, but I had to continue, I had to say it, "I can't do this without you anymore. Forgive me, forgive me."
Through the tears I saw Jesus lift his head, and his eyes, those soulful eyes, looked directly into mine, all the way to my tarnished soul.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

MARY, THE ROSE OF SHARON: Why is Mary, the Mother of God important?





Introduction

In all the years of my life, I never hesitated or even balked at accepting Mary as my Blessed Mother, or the importance of her gentle presence in my life, long before I became a Catholic. She was always there for me, with her delicate touch, her enigmatic images, and the poignant thought of her shared sufferings with her Son so aptly illustrated by artists throughout the centuries. She is, however, a stumbling block for some Protestants, and even some Catholics. In light of this, I am reminded of two heresies that threatened the early Church; Arianism and Gnosticism. Both heresies had dubious notions of the Man Jesus, the God Jesus, and who Mary is as Christ's mother. Although the Council of Nicaea clarified the concept of who Jesus is and His mother, there is something worse than these heresies still banging around the universe, and finding comfort and succor in too many places where it shouldn't.

There was a post in a Christian blog community describing God as a psychopathic schizophrenic, and it made me feel as though I had just walked through a narrow hallway encrusted with jagged pieces of glass. It was so irrational in word and tone I couldn't shake that cut to pieces feeling. The writer had no knowledge of rules, traditions, or the concept of consequences for bad behavior, or even how to deal with a loving God who allows for free will. How do you have an intelligent and rational discussion with someone who has no foundation built to even begin to understand what faith in God is? The two aforementioned heresies are minor, intellectual exercises, in comparison with the atheistic and bizarre descriptions and views of God today.

In another blog someone posted an anti-Mary piece on a Catholic website, and it was summarily removed. I didn't see it, but it riled a few who did. With all the misinformation, convoluted views, and conclusion jumping so many young people are want to do, I am still willing to stroll into the lion's den to discuss Mary, and how she fits in the salvation history narrative. But how did she, our Mary, the Theotokos, the God-bearer, become such a thorn in the side of some established Christians? And how do you explain to the irrational who Mary is, and why she is important to us?

Note: I will not go into the Nestorius and Alexander arguments, or discuss Gnostic and Arian heresies in detail here. Suffice it to say, you can read about those through other sites or books. You should be reading the early Church fathers' writings anyway, and learn what Councils decided what. Go forth and seek the truth. Enjoy!

The Woman

To begin this narrative, we must start with the very first woman, who is, of course, Eve. Oh, Eve. Eve who began the whole shebang. Eve who listened to that smarmy serpent. Eve who couldn't keep her sticky fingers off that blasted fruit. But, she wasn't called Eve when she partook of the tantalizing food. She began her life in the Garden of Eden with the name Woman, meaning the creature who came out of man. It wasn't until Adam gave her a proper name that she became the mother of humanity known as Eve.

Nevertheless, it was Eve, as the Woman, who caused the rift between God and humanity through her flourishes in the Law given by God, "You shall neither eat of it, nor touch it, lest you die," Genesis 3: 3. Those three little words she added to the Law marked her downfall, and the serpent, being the wily creature he was, knew it. By giving the law more oomph, more bite, according to her, she had begun the slide toward her banishment from Eden. At this point, she begins to see the fruit is good for eating, the seduction of the eyes begins, then she takes that fateful taste, and hands the fruit over to her husband. Strangely, they play duck and cover with a fig leaf, as though they could actually hide from God, which I always found curious--but that is for another post. Thousands of years later, comes the redeemer, sent by God to untie the knot of sin the couple created in that moment. According to the dogma of the Catholic Church, including Protestant denominations, Christ is the Second Adam, the One who came to redeem mankind from Adam's sin, and paid the price on the cross. But, wait. There is the other half of Adam, the woman Eve. Who is she? Is she unfinished business?

God is not the author of unfinished business or chaos. He doesn't leave Eve dangling out there with no hope of cleaning up her half of the mess. This is not to say that Christ paid the price only for men, by reason of sex leaving women out in the cold, and some female style Jesus has to appear on the scene (boy wouldn't the feminists love that). That is not what I mean. Christ had to be born of a woman, the second Eve, a completely human mother, and not a Manichean tube that He would pass through, as though he was surrounded by a divine glass bubble. He had to be fully Man, and fully God. But Mary couldn't have survived the inception if she had not been set aside, holy and pure for this purpose. But, I'm ahead of myself.

The scripture says that Eve was created from Adam's side, or in Hebrew tzela, the same word used for the structural beams in the Tabernacle. You can't ignore structure in either Eve or the Tabernacle. If you wanted to look at this from a mystical viewpoint, you would realize that the entire human race is built upon the structure of a man and a woman, that the relationship between the opposite sexes is critical to the survival of humanity. Would not the salvation of that human race require the entire structure, the entire body of Adam, which includes the woman Eve, and bring her flesh and bone into the process? I suppose, if God wanted, He could have just appeared as a Man, without being born in the traditional way, but He didn't. He chose to follow His process. It was necessary to God that Jesus would be born of a woman, and that woman chosen for that purpose was the virgin Mary. Christ's flesh was a necessary ingredient to redeem all of humanity, the garment covering the Word, the divine breath once again breathed into flesh to bring forth the Messiah to redeem the flesh and the divine soul.

The Jewish sages say that the term ishah or ish, which indicates the potential for holiness or destructiveness, was added to the root word for each sex in the Genesis narrative. In Genesis 1:27, the Hebrew letter yod, the sword pointing to creation in judgment, was added from God's name to the narrative of creation when it said, "make man," and the Hebrew letter heh, the breath of God, was added from God's name to "make woman." This means that Adam and Eve were both made for holiness or destructiveness. This was done to allow for man's free will, to give mankind a choice in whether they want to serve God or not. God specifically gave His commandment to not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in order that these two would not fall into destructiveness, to give them structure for their lives, to build their future on the beams of the Law. But even these perfect creatures struggled with fulfilling the Law when tempted.

The second part of this narrative is when God says that man should not be alone and the term "helpmate" is used, translated from the Hebrew ezer knegdo. This term has often been denigrated by Christian theologians, reducing the term to; one who is subservient to the man. In other words, she is created only to meet all his needs, like a female slave, like a nonperson. But, the Hebrew term ezer knegdo actually means opposite or against him. The point made here in the narrative is that the woman is made to oppose the man when necessary, as well as, being an opposite sex for procreation. According to the Kabbalah, women's tears are counted by God, meaning that she was created as an empathic vessel, a more spiritual creature who can feel the world's sorrows more easily than a man. The heh added from God's name is the ruoch, or breath of God, that He used as an amendment to a woman's basic nature. The woman as a helpmate means more than just a physical companion or partner. She is the spiritual nexus of the couple's universe.

As the nurturer of children, the future human race, every woman would need this supernatural ability, not just to care for her children, but to see who they truly are and what is in store for them when they leave the nest. She then can prepare them to face what is ahead. The perfect biblical example of this idea is in the story of Rebecca, who helped her son Jacob fool Isaac, her husband, into believing Jacob was his nefarious brother Esau. Why would she do this? She knew Jacob would be the future Israel, and he needed to receive the paternal blessing on his future endeavors, a critical spiritual necessity for him to accomplish this. It is the father who imparts this particular spiritual aspect to his children, and not the mother. Isaac was blind in more ways than one. Isaac had a soft spot for his bad boy. Rebecca knew Esau didn't need the blessing. Esau was already everything he could be. The Woman Eve becomes the perfect creature to oppose Adam, just as Rebecca opposed her husband Isaac, and saw the future more clearly than her blind husband.

Eve was created after God breathed a soul into Adam, after Adam was transfigured from a golem, the man of mud, into a creature filled with God's breath, infused with a divine soul. Because she was not made from mud, she is not tied to the earth, but tied to the spiritual. She is not a placid servant directed by Adam to do what he wants. Instead, she is the perfect counterpart to his earthy warrior, helping to transition the hawk into a more angelic being, and guiding the worldly realm toward that which is sacred. She became the receptacle, or container for all of creation, and, therefore, is more in tune with the needs of the world, to hear the souls crying out to God, to be everything that a true mother is.

God created her in this fashion in order to control the animal nature that can run unfettered in every man. Cain, Nimrod, and even Esau are reminders to us of this character flaw. The woman brings a divine soul into the world when she delivers a child, and she must teach the child through example to achieve a higher purpose, to serve God. This is not to say that a man doesn't have a spiritual side. On the contrary, he does. And when he allows the spirit of God to use him, he has the ability to transfigure his power, normally for making war, into a mighty power for the spiritual advancement of mankind. Examples of such men were Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and many others throughout the scriptures, who changed nations and leaders through this spiritual power. But, this tendency toward the spiritual lies most profoundly within the woman's nature. However, she too can be especially destructive when she turns from God, and, instead, worships nature, or a man, or sex, or even herself. Then, she has the capability of bringing nations down through men. Jezebel is the perfect example of a destructive woman with the ability to bring a nation to its knees through a man.

A woman would be a necessary fixture in the salvation of mankind, primarily because she is intricately tied by her nature to the spiritual, as well as, the physical ability to bring the Messiah into the world. Eve is as much a precursor to Mary as the usual women often sited in the scripture, such as Sarah, or Rebecca, or Leah and Rachel. When she received her name, Eve, she was given an office, the mother of humanity. The Hebrews rename those who have received a higher calling, or an office much like that of a Prime Minister, or a President of a country. In this case, it denotes a spiritual and physical office granted by God that they shall occupy to effect change in the world.

Sarai was given a new office by God when after her husband Abram was renamed, Abraham. Sarah, with her new name, would become a critical component in the founding of the Hebrew nation. She was appointed the mother, the first mother to ever conceive well after her fertile years were over, the mother of the first child that would become the sign of the sacrifice that was to come. The Shekinah's presence, or the Holy Spirit, hovered over Sarah's tent because of her holiness, and when Rebecca came on the scene to become the wife of Isaac, she inherited all the duties and expectations to carry on in her mother-in-law's office. Miriam, the sister of Moses, whose name means, Mistress of the Sea, guided the ark carrying her brother through the reeds in the river in order for her brother to be found by Pharaoh's sister. This was a female hand guiding prophecy, guiding the savior of the Hebrew peoples through the treacherous waters of the Nile. She would be present when the Hebrew nation received the Law, preparing the women of the nation through her prayers, songs, and teaching.

Zipporah, the wife of Moses, had to remind her great and powerful husband of the importance of performing circumcision within an appointed time frame. She throws the foreskin of his son Gershon at his feet in Exodus 4:25 in order to save Moses' life. Bathsheba, in 1Kings 2:13-19, is a perfect example of a mother's importance, as another precursor to Mary, when she goes to her son, Solomon, to plead for clemency in a citizen's case. Even the great Solomon recognizes her authority and office by listening to her, even though he did not grant clemency to the accused. Her importance was well-known to the people, and it was for this reason her help was requested. Judith is another precursor to Mary. Jael, in Judges 4:17-5:24, is a warrior for the Hebrew people when she pounds a stake through the head of Sisera, the enemy of Israel, much like the apocryphal Judith's story. Rahab, Esther, Ruth, and on, straight into the New Testament, are women who are all essential to the unfolding story. Why would Eve be left out? Why would Mary? As we see, neither is. Both have a role to play, an assigned office to fulfill.

The Second Eve

In the beginning of the Gospels, Mary is approached by the Angel Gabriel and he says, "Hail full of grace. The Lord is with you." Luke 1:28. This is a quote from Zephaniah 3:14-20. She is the embodiment of the Second Eve, the one favored by God to bring the Messiah into the world. Her office name is Full of Grace, the spiritual fountain from whom all grace would flow. The Jewish practice of renaming is in full flower here, just as the Woman became Eve, Jacob became Israel, Mary has become Full of Grace. This is confirmed by her elderly cousin Elizabeth, now very pregnant with John the Baptist, another miracle birth like that of Sarah. John leaps in his mother's womb, and Elizabeth declares, "Blessed are you among women." Luke 1:42 Blessed in Greek is Makarios, which indicates the state of the believer is fully satisfied because God indwells them. Not only does the Spirit of God indwell Mary, but The Lord is with her, Elizabeth says, and she continues, "Blessed is the fruit of your womb." Luke 1:43-44

Mary is the Pentecost, she is the Ark of the Covenant. There are three places in scripture where it is written that God overshadowed. In Genesis 1 when God overshadowed the waters, in Exodus 40:35 when God filled the Tabernacle in the wilderness, and Luke 1:35 "The power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, Son of God." She is the Ark of the Covenant, not a tube where God has passed through, but a holy vessel itself because she is full of grace. She would have to be. In 2 Samuel 6:6-15, the pious Uzzah is struck dead when he reaches his hand to steady the ark, and this was a man-made object made holy by God. Mary would have to be wholly dedicated to God, special and set apart in order to bear God's Son. She is much more holy than a man-made object, otherwise, she would have been struck dead when God overshadowed her. The angel told her as much when he pronounced her name, full of grace. Zephaniah's prophecy 3:14-17 said that He, meaning the Son of God, would return and dwell within the womb of the Daughter of Zion, a personification of Israel. Mary is now Israel, the daughter, and not a daughter.

Perhaps Mary is a stumbling block because of what she declares to Elizabeth, Luke 1:46-55,
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to the promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

She knows that she will bring forth the savior, the one who would change everything forever, for even she is transfigured. She foresaw the Sermon on the Mount here in her declaration. Filled with the Holy Spirit, she sees Jesus, her Son on that mount, telling all of Israel God is now answering all their prayers. This is an amazing prophetic insight. She draws us toward Jesus even before He is born, and points the way, as she will again in Cana.

We've arrived at the wedding in Cana, in John 2:4. Here Jesus uses the term Woman when he refers to his mother. Why would he not say, Mother? He calls Mary Woman because he has recognized her office as the Second Eve. Jesus is harkening back to that point in the history of Man, recalling the Woman in the Garden of Eden in order to give Mary her power, not to diminish her. It was not meant to be derogatory, like someone using terms of sister or woman after a retort, as I've heard some pastors say. Mary, in this narrative, is doing what she was meant to do. She reminds Jesus that He must use his power to bring forth the new wine, that this would be a sign of His coming, and she encourages Him to perform the duties of His office. She is telling Him, in essence, the time has arrived to make His first mark at a wedding, no less, to bring joy through the new wine, through the marriage of the Bridegroom and the Church. If he had meant to demean her, why would he have changed the water into wine? She says to the stewards, do what He says. There she is pointing to Him, reminding the stewards that they must follow God's commands, she, as humanity, is asking God to intervene. This is a critical point in the narrative, a time where we are beginning to see that Mary is always present, that she has tremendous access to Him, and that she still has a powerful role beyond the birth. She is the person who will draw people to Jesus.

Summary

Upon Jesus' death he gave us a second gift. He gave us His mother. Now, she is the mother of the world, John 19:26-27. She was there when the Church was born in that upper room. She nursed it through its infancy and then left to be with her Son when the work was done. She cannot be easily dismissed in light of the scriptures, because she's everywhere Jesus is. Somewhere, through the ages, she was cast out, marginalized, and became anathema to those who still can't find room for her at the Inn. This is a shameful way to treat God's mother. By dismissing her, you dismiss our hope in cheating death, for she is the embodiment of the rapture. She is our hope in that beautiful calling up called the rapture by evangelicals. According to tradition, she was the first New Testament person to be translated. It's time to revisit the scriptures about the women who played an important role in the salvation story, and find the Rose of Sharon, our Mary, permeating the narrative.

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus. Amen.