Faith that Works

Teaching middle schoolers how to live and practice their faith

The fourth time Mary speaks in the Gospels is at the Wedding in Cana, which is found in John 2: 1-12. This is the only time that we can hear Mary speak in Jesus’s adult life and ministry, and I love the way the interchange goes between the two of them. The story is a familiar one: Mary goes to Jesus and tells him, “They have no wine.” She doesn’t ask or explain anything, just tells Jesus what the situation is and trusts that he can take care of it. His response seems a bit exasperated (“Women, how does your concern affect me?”) and more than a little rude. I love how Mary doesn’t even react- she just turns to the waiting servants and tells them “Do whatever he tells you.”

I feel like Mary’s last words in the gospel sum up our Christian vocation beautifully. We just need to do whatever he tells us. Mary could ask whatever she needed of Jesus and completely trust that he would take care of it because she truly knew who Jesus was and what he could do. The more time we spend with Christ, the more we can listen and know how to do whatever he tells us.

Here are some ideas for a week based on “Do whatever he tells you.”

Read the Wedding at Cana in the Bible. Students could read the scripture and study it using the Lectio Divina scripture study method. I have a pre-made version in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, but you could easily do as a whole class bible study or prayer journal activity.

Use the Examen to start talking about discernment. Learning about Ignatian spirituality and specifically the Examen prayer completely transformed my prayer life and relationship with Christ. In order to be able to do whatever Jesus tells us, we need to have a real relationship with him, like Mary did. The Examen provides a structure for daily prayer that helps build an awareness of God’s workings in your life. There are lots of versions specifically for younger people- here is one called the five finger Examen.

Research what Jesus tells us to do. Seek out Bible passages where Jesus tells us what we should do. For example, Jesus teaches us how to pray with the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). He gives us the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12), tells us not to judge (Matthew 7:1-5) and tells us the Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22: 34-40). There are countless other lessons throughout the gospels- students could try to find 3, or work in prayers to go in depth in one specific teaching of Jesus and present that to the class creatively with song, art or acting.

Learn about intercessory prayer. Catholics’ relationship with Mary can be confusing, and this story is a great way to explain how Catholics don’t worship Mary or pray to her. When Mary asks Jesus to do something for her, he does, even though he is initially resistant. When Catholics pray the rosary or other Marian devotions, we are praying TO Jesus, THROUGH Mary. It’s like asking a friend to pray for you, or your Mom to advocate for you when you are young. Pray a class rosary and encourage your students to entrust their intentions to Mary’s intercession.

Under the wire, but I made it! Four words of Mary for four weeks of May! Coming up soon: Summer Spirituality Series 2020 and some more free resources to help you hit the new school year ready for online or in person learning.

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