“We also know that the Son of God has come and has given us discernment to know the one who is true” (1 Jn 5:20). In order to practice such discernment, we must come to know this Son of God. We must not forget Jesus’s admonition, “See that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will deceive many” (Mt 24:4-5). If we do not come to know Jesus by giving ourselves over to the Word that he offers us through his Church, then we risk being led astray by others who claim to be the Christ. These people may claim to have an understanding of the obscure, hidden forces that seem to move the universe, politics, economics, human society, etc. and offer us keys that they promise will unlock the hidden potentialities buried within us. But, even if these people’s theories may be successful in “explaining” some—even many—things, if their knowledge (gnosis) claims to be ultimate instead of pointing towards the true foundation of the world in the Lamb that was slain (cf. Rev 13:8), they may be simply setting up idols that will continually demand our thoughts, our actions, the confession of our belief in them, and the sacrifice of our time and money, while only offering an illusory “salvation.” For this reason, even after his epistolary treatise on discernment, John ends his first letter with the rejoinder: “Children, be on your guard against idols” (1 Jn 5:21).
If we abide in the spirit that God gives us, however, things are made simple, as they are for Mary in today’s gospel, even if they are not thereby made “easy.” With the simplicity of a loving mother, Mary tells her Son, “they have no wine” (Jn 2:3). Unlike many of us who expect praise when we discern and say or do the right thing, Mary is unfazed when Jesus returns the harsh word, “woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come” (Jn 2:4). Mary simply turns to the servers and says, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). Mary is a woman who discerns in the Spirit, and it seems that her Son—who is also the Son of the Eternal Father—discerns as well, for he lets himself be led by the Spirit which drives him into the desert at the beginning of his public life (Mk 1:12), and he even lets himself be moved by his mother and works the miracle at Cana, discerning that what she prepares for him there is indeed his Father’s will.