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Bible Reflections View Comments

A Sign of God’s Love
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, January 20, 2013
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My parents met at a wedding. My mom was there with someone else. She loved telling stories of all the dates she had in the early forties, especially the time she was swimming in the afternoon with one boy and then had to get home in time to change to go out with the man she would eventually marry. He turned out to be the love of her life, and she never looked back. Like the couple in today’s Gospel, she saved the best for last and was a sign of love and life for countless generations.

Weddings are a sign of committed love, of an openness to new life, of a willingness to trust in the future and to do our part to bring about that future. Catholic weddings have an additional layer of significance in that they are a sacrament that witnesses to the community a sign of God’s love for and commitment to his people.

At the heart of Catholic theology is belief in the sacramentality of life. This means that we believe that the good things of this world can be ways to encounter our God. Water, oil, bread and wine, human touch all contribute to our experience of the sacraments.

In today’s reading from John’s Gospel, Jesus is at a party with his mother and his friends. When the wine runs low and the bridegroom is faced with a social embarrassment, Jesus offers an abundance of choice wine. In John’s Gospel, the miracles Jesus performs are profound signs of his glory and his identity as the Son of God. And so the miracle at the wedding feast of Cana is far more than, say, a trip to the corner market to pick up a couple more bottles of wine for dinner. And it’s more than Jesus responding to a gentle nudge from his mother to do something about their friends’ awkward situation.

How fitting it is that the one who would in the end give his flesh and blood to be food and drink began his ministry with the sign of abundant wine. Jesus is, in fact, reflecting the prophecies of Isaiah and the other Hebrew prophets who reminded the People of God that their covenant with the Creator was like the bond of a bride and bridegroom. And the sign of that covenant was described more than once by Isaiah as an abundant banquet of rich food and choice wines.

Christmas, the feast of the Incarnation, celebrates the mystery of God taking flesh as a human baby. “The Word became flesh to make us partakers of the divine nature:... For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #460).

A Catholic spiritual life is not something that denies the body, the senses, the stuff of the earth, as inferior to a life of the mind and the purity of a disembodied soul. It’s a spirituality that looks to creation for signs of God’s very life and presence.

In these Sundays between Christmas and Lent, the Scriptures begin to show us what it means to be disciples of Jesus. Jesus meets the people of his day in the ordinary activities of their lives. His presence with us today is no different. Whether we’re gathered around the table of the Eucharist or around our family tables at home, today’s readings remind us that all is holy, all is sacred, and God’s presence can be found in the most ordinary and extraordinary expressions of human life.


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Anthony Claret: The "spiritual father of Cuba" was a missionary, religious founder, social reformer, queen’s chaplain, writer and publisher, archbishop and refugee. He was a Spaniard whose work took him to the Canary Islands, Cuba, Madrid, Paris and to the First Vatican Council. 
<p>In his spare time as weaver and designer in the textile mills of Barcelona, he learned Latin and printing: The future priest and publisher was preparing. Ordained at 28, he was prevented by ill health from entering religious life as a Carthusian or as a Jesuit, but went on to become one of Spain’s most popular preachers. </p><p>He spent 10 years giving popular missions and retreats, always placing great emphasis on the Eucharist and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her rosary, it was said, was never out of his hand. At 42, beginning with five young priests, he founded a religious institute of missionaries, known today as the Claretians. </p><p>He was appointed to head the much-neglected archdiocese of Santiago in Cuba. He began its reform by almost ceaseless preaching and hearing of confessions, and suffered bitter opposition mainly for opposing concubinage and giving instruction to black slaves. A hired assassin (whose release from prison Anthony had obtained) slashed open his face and wrist. Anthony succeeded in getting the would-be assassin’s death sentence commuted to a prison term. His solution for the misery of Cubans was family-owned farms producing a variety of foods for the family’s own needs and for the market. This invited the enmity of the vested interests who wanted everyone to work on a single cash crop—sugar. Besides all his religious writings are two books he wrote in Cuba: <i>Reflections on Agriculture</i> and <i>Country Delights</i>. </p><p>He was recalled to Spain for a job he did not relish—being chaplain for the queen. He went on three conditions: He would reside away from the palace, he would come only to hear the queen’s confession and instruct the children and he would be exempt from court functions. In the revolution of 1868, he fled with the queen’s party to Paris, where he preached to the Spanish colony. </p><p>All his life Anthony was interested in the Catholic press. He founded the Religious Publishing House, a major Catholic publishing venture in Spain, and wrote or published 200 books and pamphlets. </p><p>At Vatican I, where he was a staunch defender of the doctrine of infallibility, he won the admiration of his fellow bishops. Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore remarked of him, "There goes a true saint." At the age of 63, he died in exile near the border of Spain.</p> American Catholic Blog The greatest tragedy of our world is that men do not know, really know, that God loves them. Some believe it in a shadowy sort of way. If they were to really think about it they would soon realize that their belief in God’s love for them is very remote and abstract. Because of this lack of realization of God’s love for them, men do not know how to love God back. —Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 
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