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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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Ignatius of Loyola: The founder of the Jesuits was on his way to military fame and fortune when a cannon ball shattered his leg. Because there were no books of romance on hand during his convalescence, Ignatius whiled away the time reading a life of Christ and lives of the saints. His conscience was deeply touched, and a long, painful turning to Christ began. Having seen the Mother of God in a vision, he made a pilgrimage to her shrine at Montserrat (near Barcelona). He remained for almost a year at nearby Manresa, sometimes with the Dominicans, sometimes in a pauper’s hospice, often in a cave in the hills praying. After a period of great peace of mind, he went through a harrowing trial of scruples. There was no comfort in anything—prayer, fasting, sacraments, penance. At length, his peace of mind returned. 
<p>It was during this year of conversion that Ignatius began to write down material that later became his greatest work, the <em>Spiritual Exercises</em>. </p><p>He finally achieved his purpose of going to the Holy Land, but could not remain, as he planned, because of the hostility of the Turks. He spent the next 11 years in various European universities, studying with great difficulty, beginning almost as a child. Like many others, his orthodoxy was questioned; Ignatius was twice jailed for brief periods. </p><p>In 1534, at the age of 43, he and six others (one of whom was St. Francis Xavier, December 2) vowed to live in poverty and chastity and to go to the Holy Land. If this became impossible, they vowed to offer themselves to the apostolic service of the pope. The latter became the only choice. Four years later Ignatius made the association permanent. The new Society of Jesus was approved by Paul III, and Ignatius was elected to serve as the first general. </p><p>When companions were sent on various missions by the pope, Ignatius remained in Rome, consolidating the new venture, but still finding time to found homes for orphans, catechumens and penitents. He founded the Roman College, intended to be the model of all other colleges of the Society. </p><p>Ignatius was a true mystic. He centered his spiritual life on the essential foundations of Christianity—the Trinity, Christ, the Eucharist. His spirituality is expressed in the Jesuit motto, <i>ad majorem Dei gloriam</i>—“for the greater glory of God.” In his concept, obedience was to be the prominent virtue, to assure the effectiveness and mobility of his men. All activity was to be guided by a true love of the Church and unconditional obedience to the Holy Father, for which reason all professed members took a fourth vow to go wherever the pope should send them for the salvation of souls.</p> American Catholic Blog Jesus’s humanity and His biological need to be fed Himself gives power and personal force to His teaching that when we feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, we do it to Him.

 
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