Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Do whatever he tells you."

The Second Sunday in Ordinary time (2C), January 17, 2010

BURNING QUESTION: What are the four components of conjugal Matrimony?
FEATURED BLOG: Is It Okay to "Parish Shop"
PRIEST STORIES: 10 ways to promote religious vocations
PASTORAL HISPANA: Lo que aprendemos de las Bodas de Caná

Dear Friends,

First the Church celebrated Epiphany and then, last Sunday, the Lord’s Baptism. This coming Sunday we remember the Wedding Feast at Cana. What’s the connection between the Jordan’s water, Cana’s wine, and the Magi’s gifts? There is more to the incident at Cana than meets the eye! Our Discussion Questions can guide you during your bible study sessions with your friends, family and church group.

“My hour has not come yet”

The dialogue between Jesus and his mother was about setting into motion the events which would lead to Jesus' crucifixion, death and resurrection. Mary says simply to Jesus, “They have no wine.” In other words, the human race has no real life left in it. Jesus replies that it is not yet “his time.” That is, his public life has not yet begun. He will have to preach, heal, suffer, die and rise again.

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says Cana teaches us that the Messiah of the world had to adjust his schedule when events took a surprising turn. The story of Jesus' coming-out event as told by John shows his spiritual flexibility. We can learn from this how we also can transform our own "cronos" time into "kairos" -- a real moment of breakthrough and hope, of promise and new possibility.

Understanding Mary's Presence

Fr. John Foley, S. J. explains why Mary does not take seriously all of Jesus's reasons why God’s promise cannot be fulfilled at this time. We can accept as historical fact that Mary gave birth to Jesus. However, Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. explains, she bore him again on the spiritual level when she stood by his cross and became the spiritual mother of the whole Church, whose members are united with him in faith and in the Eucharist, sacrament of love.

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 Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio that if Mary’s intercession could be a catalyst for the first miracle, it could be the catalyst for many more. It's a sentiment Father Cusick shares. He tells us that our Lady has interceded for those who approach her divine Son from the very beginning of his public life and ministry.

Looking to the Eucharist

Jesus transforms this water, used for cleansing people's feet, into wine. By doing so Jesus is replacing the old Jewish religious rites of cleansing with the new wine which is himself - the Eucharist. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says this is what it's all about: the gift of the Body and Blood of the Lord on the cross and in the Eucharist. It therefore is, according to Fr. Ron Rolheiser, both the sacrament that celebrates unity and the sacrament that cleanses us for it.

It is the best wine that is saved until now. Fr. Alex McAllister SDS says this takes place at a feast which hints at that much greater feast to come, the Eucharistic celebration which itself looks towards the great banquet of heaven. And Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA reminds us that If Jesus can change something like water into wine as a sign of his love for the young couple at Cana and in response to the sensitivity of Mary who noticed the lack of wine, can he not change us too into the kind of people that we are called to be?

Lessons for Marriage

Our Burning Question this week asks a question that comes straight out of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: What are the four essential components of conjugal life in the sacrament of Matrimony?

Fr. Phil Bloom says Sunday's Gospel shows Jesus' love for married couples. Just as Jesus gave abundantly with the gift of overflowing wine to the couple at Cana, our Lord continues to give an abundance of every blessing that brings joy. And it is a faithful, stable, and committed marriage, Msgr. Charles Pope reminds us, that is among the measures of maturity that God Himself has set forth. While from the Vatican, the Bishop of Rome also offered his own encouragement to all newlyweds to be "witnesses of the love of Christ in family life."

For many couples, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes decades of time together strewn with a minefield of potential relationship wreckers. Here are nine ideas you can use to keep your marriage strong at any age. And to cap things off, we encourage couples - and couples to be - to check out this important ParishWorld resource: Understanding the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. It's a compilation of articles on the Sacrament of Matrimony plus useful tips for a happy married life.

Free Will, Conscience & Parish-shopping

In a recent interview with Newsweek magazine, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about her disagreements with the United States Catholic bishops concerning Church teaching. Embodied in her statements were some fundamental misconceptions about Catholic teaching on human freedom. This prompted San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer, under whose diocese the Speaker belonged, to respond this week with a statement - What Catholics Believe - to make clear what the Catholic Church teaches.

Reacting to a news article about sin and the Catholic Church, Mark Shea explains that Hell is not some arbitrary punishment that God sticks on us like postage stamps because we got too many infractions in the file. Mortal and venial sins are useful distinctions, to be sure. But if you turn them into another way of trying to be saved by law, you are stone deaf to the most elementary teaching of the gospel: that only Christ, not law, can save us. So as we stumble through life and its challenges and tempations, be mindful of this lesson that Bo Sanchez shares with us this week: God’s Plan Is Bigger Than Our Mistakes.

Here's something we've all done at one time or another. Is It Okay to "Parish Shop"? Fr. John Bartunek offers an incisive response to this question from a reader: Is it required that we attend our home parish (just a few blocks away) when possible, or is it acceptable to attend Mass in another town on a regular basis?

Tragedy in Haiti

In a nation that is 80% Catholic, the church is where Haitians have always turned, not only for their spiritual lives, but also for an education, health and welfare system. What can be seen in the hideous aftermath of the 7.0 earthquake is the massive loss of church buildings. What cannot be seen - yet - is the people missing from the pictures. Nearly one in eight of all the priests in Haiti were reported dead after the Tuesday earthquake.

Benedict XVI is appealing for aid for victims of the earthquake that devastated Haiti and killed the archbishop of the Port-au-Prince Archdiocese. Catholic Relief Services has made an initial commitment of $5 million for immediate use in the relief effort. Click here to see how you can help its efforts.

The church's relief push might be well afoot across the globe. But with their hearts especially pointed toward home following the killer quake, for many Haitian expatriates in the US the priority went to prayer as churches nationwide filled for specially said Masses.

One oftentimes we wonder why suffering like this can afflict so many innocent people. This quote from Pat Fosarelli, M.D., describing a skeptical doctor's return to the faith can offer some guidance: "Suddenly, God became very real to me. In the suffering children, the "little ones," I met the suffering Christ. When I rocked a child in pain, I comforted the suffering God. I remember looking into the faces of young children and asking myself, "Who is this--really--whom I am comforting?" Instead of an impassive, supremely independent God, I met a God who needed me to make a difference in the lives of suffering people."

Health Care, Immigration & the "Grayby Boom"

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has launched a nationwide postcard-writing campaign to urge Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. And with House and Senate leaders meeting behind closed doors to forge a health care overhaul bill, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has reactivated its grassroots campaign to encourage Catholics nationwide to tell lawmakers they oppose federal funding of abortion.

Also this week, in honor of National Vocation Awareness Week, the U.S. bishops' conference offered a list of 10 ways to promote religious vocations.

And here's a report - not about a baby boom - but about a "Grayby Boom" that can be a potential windfall for the Catholic Church. Both in the United States and around the world, the elderly are by far the fastest-growing segment of the population. Given that elderly people are, statistically speaking, far more likely to invest time and treasure in their faith than any other demographic cohort, today’s rapid increase in people 65+ represents a potential “boom market” for religion.

Finally, here's a welcome pro-Life story from one Hollywood celebrity. Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez has said she would never consider in-vitro fertilisation because of her traditional upbringing. The actress, the daughter of Puerto Rican parents, grew up in the Bronx, New York, and attended Catholic schools throughout her childhood.

Another eventful week in our Catholic world. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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1 comment:

  1. Dan Spencer III9:17 AM

    Since all three constitute the Lord's revelation to humanity, they are connected. I spent some time thinking about the Cana event during prayer today and I considered something I had never heard before. Here it is: Perhaps Cana might be seen as the transition experience from Our Lord being "at home" where Mary is His mother (in the natural order) to his "leaving" home and now "joined" the Church in the persons of the Apostles. Further, Mary then transforms to "the woman" who is not just the mother of Jesus but now becomes the Mother of the Church. All her earlier activities and actions were focused on her Son. Now she becomes focused on His Body-the Church-with her famous admontion to us all--Do Whatever He Asks. She focuses from this point on as the Queen Mother, interceding for her "other children"-the Church. Just a meditation I had today.