Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Wedding at Cana

Today we hear the beautiful story of Jesus attending a wedding at Cana. Now, when we hear these beautiful scripture stories, we should keep in mind - that every word of scripture - every theme of scripture - has meaning. Jesus coming to earth as a human being speaks of the profound dignity of the human person. Jesus, choosing a wedding feast to display his first sign or miracle, speaks of the great significance of marriage.  

The institution of Marriage pre-dates recorded history, and has been, through time, become a symbol of the mystical union between God and his people. We can see clearly this “union” described in today’s first reading from the Old Testament in the words from the prophet Isaiah. After years of suffering, Israel returns from exile in Babylon – finally coming home to Jerusalem. Israel’s shame is removed. “For the Lord delights in you, and make your land his “spouse.” As a young man marries a virgin, your builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you.”

Who is this Builder? Who is this Bridegroom? God.  It is God who wishes to have a “marriage” relationship with His people Israel – and He will consummate the relationship by filling the people with His own “Divine” Life.   Jesus is the very embodiment of the God of Israel – speaking and acting in the very person of God. He is the wedding of heaven and earth. 

The gospels of Mathew, Mark and Luke are known as the “synoptic gospels”, as they are similar. John’s gospel is different. John was a mystic, and his gospel is full of symbolism, so there is always something much deeper going on than what we find on the surface. 

In our story, Mary is the first to speak. “They have no more wine.” Now weddings in Jesus time would go on for two days. To run out of wine would be a social disaster. Mary asks Jesus to do something very practical, again, this is just on the surface. So we go deeper.

This “running out of wine” is a metaphor for Israel, who is lost in its sin. It is also a metaphor for us; for we are lost in our sin. Today, the dignity of the human person, rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God, seems to be lost. Just look at the attacks upon the human person - abortion, euthanasia, homelessness. Like the feast in Cana, what was festive and full of life - has now become dry and lifeless. Mary shows her great sensitivity to an embarrassing situation. She tells the stewards, “Do whatever He tells you.” 

St. John Paul II said that “Mary's request: “It is an exhortation to trust without hesitation, especially when one does not understand the meaning or benefit of what Christ asks.” This speaks volumes concerning the teachings of our church.Many teachings we don't understand - don't agree with. Still - following our great witnesses of obedience - Jesus and his mother - we believe the Church speaks for Christ - so we listen - we believe.

Mary’s words,Do whatever He tells you",  address what Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel, and all the prophets that came before had addressed, that the “The Divine life has run out.” Mary is now Israel - saying to the Creator, “When will you restore the Divine Life.”?

Jesus hesitates, saying, Woman, how does your concern affect me? Is Jesus being curt, disrespectful? No. He is addressing her with the title of "Eve". 

The term “Woman” is the New Eve, recreated in baptism - in the beauty of radiant grace. She is brought by Christ to her husband, as Eve was to Adam, She is no longer for man the temptress and accomplice in sin. Instead she is given to him as grace and as companion in holiness.

Jesus’ reply to his mother signals a major change in their relationship. His public ministry has begun, and earthly relationships will not determine His actions. Mary will now relate to Him no longer as her son, but as her Messiah, the Son of God, and her Savior. 

Jesus tells the servers to fill the stone jars with water, to the brim. The jars were used for Jewish ritual – they held the water that was used to purify the feet after travel, and the hands before eating – the jars of water represent the ritual and religious life of ancient Israel – the temple, the law, and the prophets. The jars of water were important, and good, but they represent the past, they are not “WINE.” 

Jesus quietly transforms or elevates that “water” into WINE – 360 gallons of wine, the wine of Divine Life. He transforms Jewish ritual into the Sacraments of the Church, reminding us of the bread and wine that will be changed today on the altar, into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Christ changes everything. The worthless water becomes wine, exuberant, abundant, and unsurpassed. Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church, has come: and the hearts of Christians are full of joy at the sight of Him and that joy no one shall take from them. (John 16:22).

The miracle of Cana was Jesus' first manifestation of His glory – it was worked at the request, or we could say, prayer of Mary. No one knows better than Mary - the difficulties - and the needs of married people. At Cana she became our great intercessor. It is Mary who points out to Jesus, our difficulties - and our needs. "Son, your children have no wine"... they have no home, no work, no money, no health, no courage, no hope... 

Through Mary's prayers, Our Lord will let his glory be seen - and his disciples, you and I, will come to believe in Him.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.  Amen

Deacon Brian Murphy

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Solemnity of Mary

The Solemnity of Mary 

“Your name, O Mother of God, is filled with every divine grace and blessing. You carried in your womb Him whom the heavens could not contain. You nourished Him who feeds the whole world. The Lord of the universe willed to have need of you, for you gave Him the flesh which He did not have before. Rejoice, O Mother and Handmaid of God! Rejoice! You have for debtor Him who gives existence to all creatures; we are all debtors to God, but God is debtor to you!

“O most holy Virgin, you have more goodness and charity than all the other saints and you have greater access to the throne of God than they, because you are His Mother. I, then, who am celebrating your glories and praising your immense goodness, beg you to be mindful of me and my miseries” (St. Methodius).

Happy New Year!  Hope it’s a good one.