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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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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988.</p> American Catholic Blog God is great. God is good. And God, in his fatherly love, has a plan for our lives that will work out for our benefit and salvation. All we have to do is trust and obey.

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CATHOLIC GREETINGS
Blessed Junipero Serra
This Franciscan friar was instrumental in founding many of California’s mission churches.

Happy Birthday
May this birthday mark the beginning of new and exciting adventures!

Sts. Peter and Paul
Honored both separately and together, these apostles were probably martyred during the reign of the emperor Nero.

Wedding
Help the bride and groom see their love as a mirror of God’s love.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help
God gave Mary to us as a help in our quest for holiness.




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