Everyone knows the story of the first of the Lord’s “signs” — how Jesus changed water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana at the request of Mary, his mother. But there is more to the story than at first meets the eye.
Epiphany, to most of us, means the three kings. But the term Epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation,” and traditionally the Feast of the Epiphany celebrates three revelatory events, the Magi’s visit, the Lord’s baptism, and the wedding feast at Cana.
The link is not hard to see. The Magi’s homage shows divinity of this child-king who is to die for his people. Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan reveals a glimpse of God’s inner life as Trinity. And the wedding feast of Cana reveals the divine power at work in this carpenter from Nazareth. And it does so smack dab in the middle of everyday life, at a wedding reception.
The fourth gospel calls the Lord’s miracles “signs.” They all point to Jesus’ divinity. But they also profoundly symbolize what it is that he has come into this world to do for us. At Cana, he transforms water into wine. Now water is good but rather ordinary. It does not have much taste. Wine in ancient Israel was special, generally reserved for feasts and Sabbaths. It is a symbol of joy, and the exhilaration it provides is a great blessing. Note that the wine Jesus provided was rich, flavorful, and of the very best quality.
The Old Covenant was good. It was good to know that God is one that the way to please him is through just actions. That’s really what the ten commandments are all about–justice to God, who alone deserves our worship, and justice to other human beings who all deserve our respect, seeing that they are made in God’s image. But this covenant did not tell the whole story–the inner life of God as Trinity, this is present there only in hints and shadows. Neither does the Old Covenant provide people with the power to live the commandments. The law is written on stone tablets, and people must try to live it through sheer will power.
Jesus transforms this situation. Religious life now becomes intimacy with God, sharing in the eternal celebration of love between Father, Son and Spirit. And the new law is written in hearts by the Holy Spirit who empowers Christians to live it. Natural human life is good. But the new supernatural life brought by Christ is richer and much more flavorful.
How does Jesus work this transformation? Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the same power that transformed chaos into paradise, a virgin into the mother of the messiah, and bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.
Christ was anointed with this wonder-working Spirit following his baptism. We share in this anointing through confirmation. So why do we think that the gifts of the Spirit were only for New Testament times? Or why would we think that they are only given to the greatest saints? St. Paul in I Corinthians 12 says that there are different works of the Spirit but it is the same God who accomplishes all of them in everyone. And then, “to each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
At the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church officially taught that the charisms of the Holy Spirit were not limited to the apostolic era but are essential equipment for all times and are poured out upon all the faithful through baptism and confirmation. That means that we Catholics belong to the largest Pentecostal Church in the world.
So what is needed to awaken the wonder-working power of the Spirit that lies dormant in the lives of so many Catholics? Going back to Cana, it seems to me that if Mary’s intercession could be a catalyst for the first miracle, it could be the catalyst for many more.
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
January 20, 2013
2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time: Celebrating Cana
When Catholics use the term Cana, they are usually referring to marriage. Most Catholics will use the term Pre-Cana to refer to the preparation program for marriage. People call the office every week asking about Pre-Cana procedures and policies.
So why Cana? This flows from today’s Gospel. Jesus was present at a wedding celebration at Cana in Galilee. We Catholics believe that the Lord is present in the celebration and in the living of the sacrament of marriage. The purpose of the Pre-Cana meetings, be they conferences, meetings with married couples, or as we do here at St. Ignatius, meetings with a priest, the purpose of Pre-Cana preparation is to help the couple prepare for the sacrament, prepare for the Real Presence of the Lord in the marriage uniting His Love to their love for each other. Actually, the preparation for marriage begins many years before the bride and groom meet.
Why Jesus Loves Marriage
Bottom line: Today we see how much Jesus loves marriage – and why. He comes as the Bridegroom who rejoices in his bride.
Since this homily deals with marriage, I would like to begin with a joke from Fr. Vandenberg’s book on that subject:
A couple has just gone to bed when they hear a strange noise coming from downstairs. When they go to investigate, sure enough, they discover a burglar. Caught red-handed, he pulls out a gun and says, “This means I have to kill you.” Before pulling the trigger, he pauses and asks the wife, “What’s your name?”
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
There are several unusual features about this story in today’s gospel. First of all, it is not customary for Jesus to perform a miracle merely to help friends avoid embarrassment.
Secondly, this is the only time in John’s gospel that we see the mother of Jesus intervene to ask a favor of her Son. Finally, Jesus addresses his mother as “woman,” which is not the way one addresses one’s mother, then or now.
Was Jesus Dissing His Mother When He Called Her “Woman”?
This Sunday we’re going to hear the gospel account of the wedding at Cana, where Jesus turns to Mary and says, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”
Sounds disrespectful, doesn’t it?
Or at least you could take it that way.
But Jesus wasn’t being disrespectful at all.
Here’s the story . . .
What Does Scripture Mean by “The Flesh?”
I was recently talking with someone and I recalled that there is a common misunderstanding of the meaning of the Biblical phrase “the flesh.” There are many references to “the flesh” in New Testament Scripture, especially in the letters of St. Paul. The phrase confuses some who think it synonymous with the physical body.
Christ did not grow in grace or in holiness
And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace with God and men. (Luke 2:52, Douay-Rheims)
This passage from the Gospel according to St. Luke is often interpreted (in a manner smacking of heresy) to indicate that there was a substantial growth of holiness and grace in our Savior. However, upon reflection, it will become abundantly clear that such could not have been the case. Jesus could not and did not grow in holiness, but was from the first moment of his conception perfectly and totally holy
Forgiveness Means Forever
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, like the wideness of the sea; there’s a kindness in his justice, which is more than liberty.”
Last month, my paternal grandfather died. He chose not to be involved in my life. I can count on one hand the number of times I had seen him in ten years, including if I cut off a finger or two. I saw him last Christmas Eve. He was sick and obstinate; my mother, a nurse, coaxed him into taking his medicine. I did not envy my aunt for her daily care taking of him. I felt sorry for him: a lonely, mean man.
For Catholics who have encounters with (or are related to) toxic personalities, the Golden rule of “Love your neighbor as yourself” seems impossible if our definition of love involves a need to like the person.
There’s More to Life Than Being Happy
In September 1942, Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist in Vienna, was arrested and transported to a Nazi concentration camp with his wife and parents. Three years later, when his camp was liberated, most of his family, including his pregnant wife, had perished — but he, prisoner number 119104, had lived. In his bestselling 1946 book, Man’s Search for Meaning, which he wrote in nine days about his experiences in the camps, Frankl concluded that the difference between those who had lived and those who had died came down to one thing: Meaning, an insight he came to early in life. When he was a high school student, one of his science teachers declared to the class, “Life is nothing more than a combustion process, a process of oxidation.” Frankl jumped out of his chair and responded, “Sir, if this is so, then what can be the meaning of life?”
Lessons from the Saints
Learning about the Communion of Saints and their role in the Church since my conversion was not as difficult for me to grasp as many might believe. The concept of praying for others is very common in Protestant churches. Catholic devotion to the saints is nothing more than admiration and respect for the memory of the dead heroes of the Church who chose to surrender their will and often their lives to serve God and his Church.
God Isn’t Fair
To paraphrase Fulton Sheen, “There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate God. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be God, which is of course, quite a different thing.”
CNN iReport’s contributor “TXBlue08” is one of these millions. Her essay “Why I Raise My Children Without God” reads like an inverse catechism: she meticulously lays out false premises about God, and then affirms her lack of faith in such a God.
Eleven Great Quotes from Pope Benedict XVI on Liturgy and the Holy Mass
Like most of you, I have enjoyed reading the Holy Father’s thoughts on the liturgy and the Holy Mass over the years. Pope Benedict was undeniably prolific in his theological reflection on Liturgy and the Eucharist prior to his election as Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. Even before I became Catholic, I was impressed by his forthrightness and clarity on what constitutes genuine and God-honoring liturgy.
A Not So Ordinary Season – What you need to know about Ordinary Time
The liturgical season of Christmas came to an end with the celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord this past Sunday. We are now in the first week of Ordinary Time, the longest season of the Church’s liturgical year, which began yesterday.
Ordinary Time is separated into two parts of the liturgical year. It always begins on the Monday following the first Sunday after January 6th.
6 Reasons Why Men Can Speak on Abortion
The injustice of abortion is the free choice of a woman who sees it working towards her good. This has lead to the common call for men to remove themselves from the debate surrounding the injustice. It is, after all, a woman’s issue.
While I sympathize with the thought, it doesn’t hold to the light of reason. Women bear pregnancy and birth, as they physically and emotionally bear the sad experience of abortion. As such, they are certainly the most experientially trustworthy spokeswomen for the issue. But this pride of place does not exclude the male voice. Here’s why.
Did You Know that Saint Peter’s First Church in Rome was a House Church?
Modern Protestants often speak of the trend toward “home churches.” They appeal to the ancient practice of the early Christians to meet in homes for worship. Home churches were a necessity for a persecuted minority of early Christians. Home churches again became necessary during the time of Queen (“Bloody Beth”) Elizabeth when Catholic priests and the Catholic Mass were made illegal in England. Catholic priests and those that hid them in their homes for the purpose of having secret Masses were punished by death.
What I Learned At the Stoplight
We’ve all seen them: those lone, scruffy figures at intersections and freeway underpasses holding bent cardboard signs asking for a handout. Their faces are as cracked and blistered as the sidewalk. Their meager possessions lie tangled in a bucket, sack, or grocery cart behind them.
In the city where I live, it’s hard to drive more than a minute or two without passing one of these hopeless, hapless individuals. I used to dread the encounters, wincing inwardly as the traffic light inevitably turned yellow and forced me to a stop right in front of one of those PLEASE HELP signs.
Science v. Religion on When Life Begins
One of the looming questions in the abortion debate relates to when human life begins. From a scientific perspective, this question has been solved for centuries, thanks in part to the work of a seventeenth-century Italian scientist by the name of Francesco Redi. And it’s left the opponents of the scientific view appealing lamely to outdated religious definitions.
I. Francesco Redi and the Theory of Spontaneous Generation
In 1688, Redi debunked a then-popular theory, namely, spontaneous generation, that claimed that dead things could spontaneously give rise to new life. This view dates back at least to Aristotle, who mistakenly taught (and by the way, this is where it’s about to get a little gross) that certain insects spontaneously originated “from putrefying earth or vegetable matter,” while “others are spontaneously generated in the inside of animals out of the secretions of their several organs.”
Are Babies Born Good?
Arber Tasimi is a 23-year-old researcher at Yale University’s Infant Cognition Center, where he studies the moral inclinations of babies—how the littlest children understand right and wrong, before language and culture exert their deep influence.“What are we at our core, before anything, before everything?” he asks. His experiments draw on the work of Jean Piaget, Noam Chomsky, his own undergraduate thesis at the University of Pennsylvania and what happened to him in New Haven, Connecticut, one Friday night last February.
A Brief Political Catechesis on Ideologues,Pragmatists and Principles
Sometimes I think I’m an ideologue, sometimes I think I’m a pragmatist, but at all times I wish I was principle centered. So I tried to explore what each of those things is … Let me know what you think.
How many groups are there in politics?
Let’s say there are three: Ideologues, pragmatists and principle-centered people.
What is Acquired Contemplation?
The word contemplation means, in the strict sense of the word, an act of simple intellectual sight, which when the object contemplated is beautiful and lovable, is associated with admiration and love. Contemplative prayer is distinguished from discursive prayer and affective prayer and can be defined as a simple and affectionate glance at God or at divine things; or more briefly, simplex, intuitus veritatis, as St. Thomas says.
Acquired contemplation can be defined thus: an affectionate knowledge of God and of His works, and it is the fruit of our efforts. It has as its principal object the Divine Majesty, and for its secondary object, all created things, since they derive from God, Who is the source of all, and they are like a mirror which reflects the divine perfections to our eyes.