“My mother always told me…”

Giotto – The Wedding at Cana

“My mother always told me…”

My mother always told me…” How many of us have said these words? To this day I am amazed at what I remember… especially since the words are often enough in German sayings.

Every mom gives her children the instructions she believes will carry them through life. With the love of a mother’s heart and the determination of a drill sergeant, she often repeats those words over and over again. Her goal is to make sure the lessons are learned. We so often live by them – for better or worse.

When I was reminded of this in a recent blog post from “Catholic Mom” I got to thinking about what Mary said to Jesus.

What Mary taught Jesus … and us

We don’t have much of a record of her sayings to Jesus. This most significant of mothers only spoke 4 times in scripture. Three of the four passages are from the Gospel of Luke:

  • the Annunciation, when she speaks with the angel (Luke 1:34 and 38);
  • her visit to Elizabeth, when Mary sings the psalm of praise known as the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55); and
  • the time that Jesus is lost in the Temple and Mary admonishes him (Luke 2:48).

We also find Mary speaking in the Gospel of John, during the story of the Wedding at Cana. She tells Jesus that there is no more wine (John 2:3) and then tells the servers, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5)

As someone once told me, this is perhaps the best bit of advice in the entire Bible. DO what Jesus tells you!

What did Jesus tell us?

Jesus said many wonderful things during the course of his ministry. I suspect two passages stand out in the minds of most Vincentians. One would be “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do unto me! Mt 25

And in case we did not understand he showed us what he meant. He washed the feet of his followers… ordinary people from the margins of society. Then he asked…”Do you understand what I have done for you?. He said to them this is what I want you to do. Wash one another’s feet. John 13:12

Mother Church reminds us of what Jesus said

What he told us to do is clear enough. But we need to be reminded as mothers often remind their children. So Mother Church reminds us in the form of its centuries-old social teaching.

Unfortunately, sometimes we pick and choose what strikes our fancy. People on both the left and right tend to interpret it through the lens of their political party’s platform. They’re not looking at the whole teaching. They read it selectively.

And that is why the Church’s Social teaching is so controversial. So often we pick and chose from among the particulars. We lose sight of the overall vision of Jesus. The church’s social teaching is basically a commentary on what Jesus told us. Mary reminds us to “do whatever he tells you.”

When in doubt let’s go back to Jesus’ words! Let’s wash one another’s feet. especially the least among us.


  • How familiar are we with the full range of the Church’s Social Teaching
  • Why is the church’s long-standing social doctrine its best-kept secret?
  • Do we recognize it is simply a mother reminding us of the details of “Do what he tells you?”

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