I often wonder about how the perfect inspirations for the Gospels, books that we know were “co-authored” by the Holy Ghost, came about. The Gospel authors were certainly constant participants of divine intimacy. The Holy Ghost would have easily inspired them, given them infused knowledge, or even communicated with them directly. This is certainly, if not most true, about John.
John was very young, and seemed to have loved Our Lord with the innocence of a child. It seems also that John maintained that innocence throughout his entire life. Indeed, we know that John experienced raptures and visions while he was banished to Patmos by Emperor Domitian. In fact, according to Tertullian, the only reason John was banished to Patmos was because Domitian could not manage to kill the man! He definitely tried … he had him thrown into boiling oil. It did not work. See De praescript., xxxvi (“the Apostle John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island-exile!“).
Epic, right? John clearly continued his intimacy with Our Lord at a level that I doubt anyone alive today can comprehend. Consequently, it is a bit easier to understand how the Holy Ghost could inspire his writings.
But there is a simpler explanation, for some things. That is this: it is (probably) precisely John’s purity and innocence that won him the reward of caring for Our Lady, as his mother, and ours.
Our Lady is the perfect apostle, the Immaculate Conception, the spouse of the Holy Ghost, and both the mother and daughter of God. She has intimacy with each person of the Godhead that transcends anything any other creature in history can comprehend.
Born without the stain of original sin, she also had perfect intellect, keen understanding, infused knowledge, and wisdom. Most significantly (speaking of intimacy) I think very few people contemplate what the title “Spouse of the Holy Ghost” actually means.
It is profound. It is also very accurate and practical. The Holy Ghost even consummated the union, the result of which was the Word made flesh.
And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee.”
And she consented:
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.”
As an aside, have you ever noticed that Our Lady does not appear to be surprised or intimidated by the fact that an Archangel is speaking to her? No, what she is surprised and troubled by is how greatly he elevated her.
I love that, but I love even more that she did not seem to be frightened or surprised by the presence of the angel one bit. She was more focused on the content of his message, than the fact that he was there giving her one.
Remember, she is likely the most intelligent person to have ever lived. She missed nothing.
Consequently, she noticed when Gabriel gave her a title: “Hail, Full of Grace.”
He did not say “Hail, Mary.” He called her “Full of Grace,” as if that were her name.
Unlike the angel’s “terrible” annunciation to Samson’s mother, he seems clearly submissive here, and he explains the title by then saying: “blessed art thou among women.”
Our Lady saw the ramifications of what the Archangel Gabriel said immediately, of course. Because of her perfect humility, “she was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.“
Back to the point, she is the Spouse of the Holy Ghost. Does anyone dare say that God is not a perfect spouse? Would God, in His role as spouse, ever be absent? Would he fail to be perfectly nurturing, and comforting? Would he abstain from providing perfect insight, strength, and guidance?
This relationship is not the same as the relationship you, me, and every other human being in history has had with God. It is uniquely intimate. We therefore should not limit it by our own understanding.
Our Lady is amazing in her own human merits, but she would be the first to say that the credit belongs to Our Lord. In fact, the reason she is so amazing is that her “soul doth magnify the Lord.” No doubt, the Holy Ghost gave her great assistance in doing that as well.
Man, I really wish my soul magnified the Lord. What an amazing thing.
John spent decades with Our Lady. Our Lady who was the pristine vessel for God to take on flesh in this world. The Woman who remains espoused to the Holy Ghost even now. She was a literal conduit for divine wisdom on earth after the Ascension, and no doubt the source of the information that the apostles used to describe Our Lord’s younger years. Personally, I think she also helped them understand the later years …
Therefore, I find it incredibly significant that after 30 years of intimacy with the Word made flesh, the Man who was paradoxically both her Son and her God, Mary had a moment of such import that the Holy Ghost ensured that his co-author, John, memorialized it in the second chapter of the last Gospel. I think this account exemplifies Our Lady’s role, even now.
 And the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there.  And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage.  And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine.  And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come.  His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.
Our Lord, having known for all eternity that He would have this very conversation with the little perfect mother that He created, immediately signals the importance of the conversation by citing Genesis 3:15 with the first word in His response: “Woman.”
I find it interesting that some people claim to know and love Jesus, yet simultaneously assume he was being rude, or curt here. It does not take much reasoning to realize how profoundly wrong that is. Mary did not do anything wrong. Even if she had, Jesus is the Eternal Word. He follows His own Commandments perfectly, even now. To suggest otherwise is to suggest that He sinned, which is absurd.
When He said “Honor thy father and thy mother,” he meant it. Therefore, He did so as well, perfectly.
In fact, that is exactly what He was doing. With that one word, he both reminded Our Lady of who she was, and He made it clear for the rest of us for all of salvation history: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”
Next, Our Lord did not say “what is it to me?” He said “what is it to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come.”
The ramifications of this seem pretty heavy to me. He reminds her of who she is, and then of who He is, and finally, of how this has to end.
Was He asking her if she really wanted it all to begin? Was He suggesting that she could influence when “His hour” would begin? Was He reminding her that once things began, they would end with her watching her Son be murdered? Was He warning her that the miracle she requested would set off a series of events that would end in His death?
It seems odd even to discuss, because He knew exactly what would happen, and I would guess that she did as well. So, perhaps He said it for us. If so, then understanding the meaning behind His words is even more important.
Maybe there is more meaning there that people who are smarter than I have already unpacked. I don’t know. But I do know two things for certain: 1) Our Lord told all of humanity that Mary continued to have a unique role in the salvation He brings to the world (“to me and to thee”); and 2) Mary heard and understood every single word. She saw all of the painful ramifications, and she accepted them.
She had been the Spouse of the Holy Ghost for decades at that point. She knew who she was. She knew who He was. She understood the implications of Simeon’s prophecy.
In the face of all of that, she turned to the waiters and said: “Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye” knowing that her Son and God would obey her, and most likely knowing what it would cost her.
That is who Our Lady is.
On this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, I firmly believe that She is telling her Son yet again: “They have no more wine.”
Author Note: I originally addressed this issue on Twitter, some time ago. I incorporated a lot of quotes from Martin Luther in that thread. I thought it was lost with everything else. Thankfully, @AstheRain1 had a copy of the text. I include it here, in pdf form, for anyone who might be interested.