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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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Cyril and Methodius: Because their father was an officer in a part of Greece inhabited by many Slavs, these two Greek brothers ultimately became missionaries, teachers and patrons of the Slavic peoples. 
<p>After a brilliant course of studies, Cyril (called Constantine until he became a monk shortly before his death) refused the governorship of a district such as his brother had accepted among the Slavic-speaking population. Cyril withdrew to a monastery where his brother Methodius had become a monk after some years in a governmental post. </p><p>A decisive change in their lives occurred when the Duke of Moravia (present-day Czech Republic) asked the Eastern Emperor Michael for political independence from German rule and ecclesiastical autonomy (having their own clergy and liturgy). Cyril and Methodius undertook the missionary task. </p><p>Cyril’s first work was to invent an alphabet, still used in some Eastern liturgies. His followers probably formed the Cyrillic alphabet (for example, modern Russian) from Greek capital letters. Together they translated the Gospels, the psalter, Paul’s letters and the liturgical books into Slavonic, and composed a Slavonic liturgy, highly irregular then. </p><p>That and their free use of the vernacular in preaching led to opposition from the German clergy. The bishop refused to consecrate Slavic bishops and priests, and Cyril was forced to appeal to Rome. On the visit to Rome, he and Methodius had the joy of seeing their new liturgy approved by Pope Adrian II. Cyril, long an invalid, died in Rome 50 days after taking the monastic habit. </p><p>Methodius continued mission work for 16 more years. He was papal legate for all the Slavic peoples, consecrated a bishop and then given an ancient see (now in the Czech Republic). When much of their former territory was removed from their jurisdiction, the Bavarian bishops retaliated with a violent storm of accusation against Methodius. As a result, Emperor Louis the German exiled Methodius for three years. Pope John VIII secured his release. </p><p>Because the Frankish clergy, still smarting, continued their accusations, Methodius had to go to Rome to defend himself against charges of heresy and uphold his use of the Slavonic liturgy. He was again vindicated. </p><p>Legend has it that in a feverish period of activity, Methodius translated the whole Bible into Slavonic in eight months. He died on Tuesday of Holy Week, surrounded by his disciples, in his cathedral church. </p><p>Opposition continued after his death, and the work of the brothers in Moravia was brought to an end and their disciples scattered. But the expulsions had the beneficial effect of spreading the spiritual, liturgical and cultural work of the brothers to Bulgaria, Bohemia and southern Poland. Patrons of Moravia, and specially venerated by Catholic Czechs, Slovaks, Croatians, Orthodox Serbians and Bulgarians, Cyril and Methodius are eminently fitted to guard the long-desired unity of East and West. In 1980, Pope John Paul II named them additional co-patrons of Europe (with Benedict).</p> American Catholic Blog This is the beauty of self-giving love: Men and women, driven by love, freely choose to give up their autonomy, to limit their freedom, by committing themselves to the good of the spouse. Love is so powerful that it impels them to want to surrender their will to their beloved in this profound way.

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