The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 71.

In any case, the Protestant translators, in order to reproduce the real force of the words, should have substituted " thy request " for " thee." Had they done this, and rendered the phrase " What have I to do with thy request ?" not much fault could have been found with the faithfulness of the translation. What is intolerable is the harshness conveyed by the phrase: " Woman, what have I to do with thee?" This translation conveys the absolutely false and injurious impression that our Lord was repudiating His Mother, whereas, at the very most, He was apparently refusing her request.

But, one may ask, did our Lord really even appear to refuse His Mother's request when He said to her: "Why do you bring this matter before Me ? Why do you ask Me for a miracle? Mine hour is not yet come ? To answer this question with certainty is now impossible. Everything depends upon the tone of voice and manner with which Christ spoke. The words of themselves give us no information on this point. They may conceivably express annoyance; but they may in their context carry the meaning : " My Mother, why do you ask Me ? The hour I had fixed for the beginning of miracles has not come. But you know that I cannot refuse you." It is certain from the sacred narrative that our Lady understood them to convey consent, for at once she told the waiters to do our Lord's bidding, evidently expecting the miracle which was so soon to be granted. This does not look like a refusal. And who can fail to see that our Lord's subsequent action is the safest commentary on and explanation of the meaning of His Words ?

On the other hand, all the Fathers of the Church who have commented upon this passage see in it a refusal. To this fact due weight must be attached. However, no question of doctrine is here involved, and it would be an exaggeration to think that the opinion even of St. John Chrysostom, or of St. Augustine, is, in a matter of this kind, absolutely decisive. In fact it is impossible to accept all the patristic explanations, since these differ amongst themselves. St. John Chrysostom, for example, makes suggestions that cannot be brought into harmony with those of other Fathers of the Church. St. Augustine holds emphatically that when our Lord said : " Mine hour is not come," He did not refer to His hour for working miracles, but to His hour for acknowledging His Mother upon the Cross; 1 whilst St. Gaudentius suggests that our Lord spoke in mystery, meaning that the wine of the Holy Ghost could not be given to the Gentiles before His Passion and Resurrection. 2

1 In Joan. Tract., viii. 4-9 ; De Fide et Symb., vi. 9. Cardinal Newman seems to adopt this view, at least tentatively, in his Letter to Dr. Pusey, in which he writes (p. 146) : " ' Mine hour is not yet come '—the hour of His triumph when His Mother was to take her predestinated place in His Kingdom. In saying that the hour was not yet come, He implied that the hour would come, when He would have to do with her, and she might ask and obtain from Him miracles. Accordingly, St. Augustine thinks that the hour had come, when on the Cross He said, ' Consummatum est,' and after His ceremonial estrangement of some years, He recognised His Mother, and committed to her care the beloved disciple. Thus, by marking out the beginning and the end of the period of exceptions, when she could not exert her influence upon Him, He signifies more clearly, by the contrast, that her presence with Him and her power was to be the rule." It seems to me, however, that the great difficulty in the way of any such exegesis as this is the fact that our Lord did grant His Mother's prayer at Cana.

2 Sermo IX., DC Evangel. Lect. Secund.