How does the Gospel of John depict Mary?

John’s Gospel has no birth or infancy narratives, but it does have two key stories that highlight Mary’s involvement in Jesus’ adult life. The first is the Wedding at Cana, when Mary tells Jesus that there is no more wine.

Though he responds by saying, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come,” (John 2:4), Mary confidently tells the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5) Jesus then performs his first miracle and turns the water into wine. This story reveals a lot about Mary. For one thing, it shows that she had tremendous faith in her son’s ability to fix the problem at hand. She is confident that he can save the party, even though she has never seen him perform a miracle before. It also shows that she was not afraid to “nag” him into action, even when he seemed reluctant to act at first. It’s as if Mary knows what he is capable of doing, and gets him to do it through encouragement and persistence – like lots of moms, actually.

John is also the only Gospel to give us the story of Mary at the foot of the cross. Jesus indicates the beloved disciple and tells Mary, “Woman, behold, your son,” and tells the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” (John 19: 26-27) This scene shows Jesus’ concern for Mary’s welfare, and his desire to have someone play the role of “son” after his death, taking care of her in her old age. Additionally, Catholics have always seen this as a pivotal moment in our understanding of Mary’s role. By making her the spiritual mother to his beloved disciple, Jesus symbolically makes her the mother of all who believe. Through her concern and her prayers, Catholics believe that she helps encourage the work of her Son, the work that first began at Cana.


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