Tag Archives: bridegroom

“The ‘Sign’ Read: ‘If Momma Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy!’” – John 2:1-11†


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2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

 

T. table_of_contentsoday’s Content:

  • ·        Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • ·        Quote of the Day
  • ·        Today’s Gospel Reading
  • ·        Gospel Reflection
  • ·        Reflection Prayer  

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveris, & Declarations:

 

Please let me explain why I did not publish a blog Wednesday.  I have a chronic eye condition known in the medical field as “keratoconus”.  Patients with this condition have misshaped globes of the eye.  Instead of the ckeratoconus-demoorneas being round and smooth, my eyes are shaped like the ends of footballs, and with ridges on their surfaces.  Thus, I wear specially made (very expensive) contacts in order to see well enough for daily living.  Without these contacts, my vision is like looking through a very thin layer of petroleum jelly.  Eventually, I will have to have corneal transport surgery on both eyes, but obviously, I wish to postpone this surgery as long as is reasonable.

One of my eyes has started to develop blood vessels on the cornea; some2816_2835_3thing very bad for future corneal transplant surgery.  Thus, I have to use four different medications on the eye throughout the day and night, and I am unable to wear a contact in this eye until some point after my surgery.  Laser surgery is scheduled for late February (He will burn the blood vessels on my cornea with the laser). 

For now, it is difficult to read due to the resultant blurriness of not wearing the contact.  For this reason, I have to limit my reflection blog to Sundays – – only FOR NOWI am also asking for your prayers in this matter.  Thank you in advance.

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Quote of the Day:

To turn water into wine, and what is common into what is holy, is indeed the glory of Christianity.” ~ Frederick William Robertson

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Today’s reflection: Jesus performs his first sign at a wedding feast in Cana.  Jesus heard and obeyed His mother, Mary – – the mother of God; Do YOU?!

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(NAB John 2:1-11)  1On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  2 Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.  3 When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”  4 [And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me?  My hour has not yet come.”  5 His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”  6 Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons.  7 Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.”  So they filled them to the brim.  8 Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”  So they took it.  9 And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.”  11 Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs * in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.

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Gos. Reflectionpel Reflection:

This Sunday we begin the liturgical season of Ordinary Time.  For many Sundays in this lectionary cycle (Cycle C), our readings will be taken from the Gospel of Luke.  Occasionally, however, we will read from John’s Gospel [as we do in every lectionary cycle].  Today’s Gospel reading comes from John, describing the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and His first miracle – – His first “sign”.

To situate today’s reading within the context of John’s Gospel, we need to know that this event follows Jesus’ call of His first six disciples (cf., John 1:35-51).  John tells us that Jesus and His disciples were invited to this wedding at Cana, along with Jesus’ mother, Mary.  This event is unique to John’s Gospel.  There are no parallel reports of this miraculous “sign” at Cana in any of the Synoptic Gospels.

Today’s Gospel is about “Signs (“sēmeion” in Greek).  John uses “signs” to re5030826-directional-signs-vector-or-xxl-jpeg-imageveal Jesus as the true promised Messiah to ALL “Israel”.  John uses “signs” to symbolize Jesus’ wondrous actions, His deeds.  We need to remember that the Gospel according to John is quite different in character from Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  His writing style is highly literate and symbolic in nature.  It does not follow the same order, nor reproduce the same stories, as the other three Gospels.  To a much greater degree as that of the three other Gospel writers, it is the product of a theological reflection growing out of a different circle of readers, and their different traditions.  John’s Gospel was probably written in Ephesus during 90’s AD. 

John’s Gospel narrative contains a series of “signs”, seven to be exact (They will be listed near the end of this reflection.).  John’s Gospel’s relates God’s “Word” through a series of wondrous deeds – – actions – – by Jesus Himself.  It gives the impression that John is primarily interested in the “significance” of these actions. 

The first sign in today’s Gospel reading, is the “transformation of water into wine” at a wedding feast in a place called Cana (John 2:1jesus_wine1–11).  This first “sign” represents the replacement of the Jewish ceremonial washings (John 2:6), and symbolizes the entire creative and transforming work of Jesus then, and still today.  He is still actually transforming US ALL through our hearing of His “Word” and the fellowships of our Church’s seven Sacraments.

So, the Old Testament exodus stories provide the background for today’s reading:

“Recall today that it was not your children, who have neither known nor seen the discipline of the LORD, your God—His greatness, His strong hand and outstretched arm; the signs and deeds He wrought in the midst of Egypt, on Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and on all his land; what He did to the Egyptian army and to their horses and chariots, engulfing them in the waters of the Red Sea as they pursued you, so that the LORD destroyed them even to this day … Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, You have seen with your own eyes all that the LORD did in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all His servants and to all His land(Deuteronomy 11:2-4; 29:1-2).

God’s intervention in human history is anew again – – in a new, fulfilled, and fulfilling way – –  through Jesus Christ in the midst of His brethren today.

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The first verse talks about Jesus being in a place called “Cana”:

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there” (NAB John 2:1-11). 

Cana is NEVER mentioned in the Old Testament.  The only other (two) biblical references to “Cana” can be found(1) in John 4:46, which mentions Jesus, while in “Cana”, being asked to heal the son of a royal official at Capernaum; and (2) in John 21:2, where the Apostle Nathanael (Bartholomew in the Synoptic Gospels’) comes from “Cana”.  Cana of Galilee is not mentioned in any other book of the Bible, or in any other contemporary literary source.  So where is “Cana”, and why is this place significant to John?  I do not know with certainly.  Speculation is rampant among bible scholars, but I would love to find this place someday when finally discovered with certainty.  I hear the wine there is truly divine!

Also in the first verse, “The mother of Jesus” is never mentioned by name.  Matter of fact, Mary is never mentioned by name in John’s Gospel.  And, on tsecret-rosary13aop of this, Joseph is not present at the wedding feast as well.  I suspect Jesus’ earthly “father” had died sometime between his finding his lost Son in the Temple and this event some eighteen years later.

Jesus, per John, addressed His mother by saying “Woman”:

Woman, how does your concern affect me?  My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).

This was NOT a ‘diss (slang word for “treat with contempt”) on Mary!!  Today, a child would possibly be given the “eveyesil eye” for calling his/her mother “woman” in this way.  However, in actuality, this was a normal and POLITE form of addressing one’s mother during Jesus’ time.  He also calls her by this SAME title while dying on the Holy Cross, at His most intimate – – and final – – time with her:

When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son’” (John 19:26).

The word “woman” was a revealed word which was highly exulted (like the word “king”) amoung the Jewish peoples.  Jesus is “the Word made Flesh”.  When Jesus Christ calls His mother “woman”, He is revealing the promised fulfillment in Genesis:

 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel” (Genesis 3:15).

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Wine was running low, a good “sign” of the celebration being in full force, but a bad sign because – – they are RUNNING OUT OF WINE!  So, Mary, probably helping at the celebration, goes to her son and says:

When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine” (John 2:3).

Jesus replies to “His mother”:

Woman, how does your concern affect meMy hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).

If itwasn’t His time”, why did Jesus do what His mother asked?  After all, Jesus never worked miracles solely to help His family and friends.  I believe He performed this first miraculous “sign” out of OBEDIENCE to His mother, ObedienceToTheWordknowing the importance of [what we today know as] the Fourth Commandment and its great importance in God’s kingdom:

Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land the LORD your God is giving you … Take to heart these words which I command you today…  Bind them on your arm as a ‘sign’ and let them be as a pendant on your forehead” (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:6, 8)  

I wish people today saw and appreciated the need and JOY to be obedient to God’s Commandments, and not to subjugate them – – to de-prioritize them – – out of personally selfish wants and desires. 

Now, let’s go on to discuss the second (of three) points about His reply to His “mother”: 

How does your concern affect me?” (John 2:4)

Everything Jesus says is a fulfillment of Holy Scripture.  He is telling His mother that if He does what she implies, the “cats are ‘gjesusturnedwaterintowineonna be out of the bag”!  Mary is hastening God’s will, My source and My authority by doing a miracle to meet the wedding parties need.  That’s why, I believe, the third revealing point in this one verse relates to Jesus saying: 

My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).

The “hour”, I believe Jesus is referring to, is His Passion, death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven:hourglass

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that His hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved His own in the world and He loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

I wonder how much Jesus knew about His future at the time of the wedding feast miracle.  Did He know every single detail about His gruesome torture and death to come?  Did He know the beauty He will find in His ascension?  I believe He did.  Do you?  However, Jesus was focusing on His mother’s concern for the wedding couple.  He moved up the clock, revealing His divine authority.  So, He begins a series of seven signs here at “Cana”.

Only after John has Jesus fulfilling these seven “signs”, does the “hour” of Jesus fully arrive.  The whole Gospel of John is a progressivglory-to-god-by-brandon-halliburton-free-photo-11978e “revelation” – – a REVEALING – – of the glory of God’s only begotten Son.  At “Cana”, Jesus is beginning to reveal God the Father fully; which will ne fulfilled later when He returns – – in “glory” – – to His heavenly Father on our behalf.  Jesus did this as the beginning of His signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed His glory, and His disciples began to believe in Him” (John 2:11).

Jesus’ reply was tjohn2_5SCruly revealing in nature.  However, Mary was not going to take an implied “no” for an answer.  She simply looks at the “servers” and says:

Do whatever He tells you(John 2:5).

Mary knew her Scriptures well; she helped teach them to Jesus.  Mary, in her reply, may have been referencing a verse from the Book of Genesis:

When all the land of Egypt became hungry and the people cried to Pharaoh for food, Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians: ‘Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you’” (Genesis 41:55).

What I believe was important about Mary’s reason for wanting Jesus to perform a “sign” before His “time”, and His willingness to obif_mama_aint_happy_aint_nobody_happy_magnet-p147594797048165970b2gru_400ey her fully, may have been one of simple logic and survival for Jesus:

If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

Do not forget the Fourth Commandment.  Jesus didn’t!!

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John goes on to report that:

There were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons” (John 2:6). 

Twenty to thirty gallons” is a litermarriageincanaal present day translation for the “two or three measures” of Jesus’ day.  This vast quantity of wine recalls prophecies of “abundance in the last days” from Jewish Scripture:

Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion, they shall come streaming to the LORD’s blessings: The grain, the wine, and the oil, flocks of sheep and cattle; They themselves shall be like watered gardens, never again neglected” (Jeremiah 31:12);

 “Yes, days are coming—oracle of the LORD—When the one who plows shall overtake the one who reaps and the vintager, the sower of the seed; The mountains shall drip with the juice of grapes, and all the hills shall run with it. will restore my people Israel, they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities, Plant vineyards and drink the wine, set out gardens and eat the fruits.” (Amos 9:13–14).

With this “first sign”, the changing of the water to wine, Jesus is replacing the “Jewish ceremonial washings” with His divine body, blood, soul, and divinity washing away all affects of original sin.  This event also presented the initial revealing – – the initial revelation – – of Jesus’ divine nature and authority at the outset of His public ministry.  

Jesus’ action in this reading points to the “wine of the new covenant” and the “bread of life” He establishes in the “Last Supper” anjesusfirstLOGOd in our present Eucharist.  It also points to the Messianic banquet which Jesus personally will host at the end of time.  (Behold the Lamb of God … Hapy are those invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb!)

The miracles of Jesus’ public ministry – – His “signs” – – demonstrate the power of God’s love and mercy for His people.  God’s kindness knows no limits!  And the ultimate expression of His love is revealed in the person of His Son, our Lord – – Jesus Christ.  He became flesh for OUR sake; He died for OUR redemption; He rose from the dead for OUR glorification!! 

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John ends his Gospel today by going to the beginning: the beginning of Jesus’ “signs”, the beginning of His revealed “glory”, the beginning of His public ministry, and the beginning of His disciples truly believing in Him as the true promised Messiah:

Jesus did this as the beginning of His signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed His glory, and His disciples began to believe in Him” (John 2:11).

God reveals His “glory” in the most unlikely places: in a stable at Bethlehem, at a wedding party in Cana, in the muddy waters of the Jordan River, and on a blood stained crosto-god-be-the-glory_137_1024x768s outside the walls of Jerusalem.  Jesus’ first public miracle – – His first “sign” – – was performed at the confident “invitation” of His mother.  In doing as His mother requested of Him, Jesus blessed a young couple, bringing JOY to their wedding feast: first, by His presence, and second, by His surprising response to Hhis mother’s concern, saving them from an embarrassing situation. 

Changing water into wine was a remarkable act of kindness; but saving the best to last was unheard of in Jesus’ day.  In Jewish Scripture (our Old Testament) wine was often seen as a gift anDo-Whatever-He-Tells-You-1024x1024d symbol of God’s blessing (cf., Deuteronomy 7:13; Proverbs 3:10, Psalm 105).  With Jesus miraculously producing 180 gallons or so of the best wine possible, and many times more than what actually was needed for the feast, He showed the superabundance of the blessings He Himself came to offer to All “Israel”, to ALL peoples.

What other signs will Jesus go on to do during His public Ministry?  Well, now would be a good time to list the seven “signs” John reveals through his Gospel:seven-signs

  • The first sign is the transformation of water into wine at Cana (Jn 2:1–11); this represents, as I mentioned earlier, the replacement of the Jewish ceremonial washings and symbolizes the entire creative and transforming work of Jesus.

  • The second sign, the cure of the royal official’s son (Jn 4:46–54) simply by the word of Jesus at a distance, signifies the power of Jesus’ life-giving “Word”.  

  • The third sign, the cure of the paralytic at the pool with five porticoes in John 5, continues the theme of water offering newness of life.  In the preceding chapter, to the woman at the well in Samaria Jesus had offered living water springing up to eternal life, a symbol of the revelation Jesus brings.  Here Jesus’ life-giving “Word” replaces the water of the pool which failed to bring life.

  • John 6 contains two signs: the multiplication of loaves and the walking on the waters of the Sea of Galilee.  These signs are related to the “crossing of the Red Sea” and the manna” of the first exodus, manifesting a new exodus in process.  The multiplication of the loaves anticipates the future revelation of God in Jesus which the bread of life is His visible “sign” which we call the “Eucharist”.  

  • The sixth sign is presented in John 9, the sign of the young man born blind whom Jesus heals. This is a narrative illustration proclaiming the triumph of light over darkness.  Remember, this event takes place in the Temple during the Feast of the Tabernacles (aka, the Feast of Lights) at which there were a multitude of candelabras lighted throughout the “Holy Place”.  Jesus is presenting Himself as the Light of the Temple, and of the world.  The young man had been given his sight by Jesus.  This “sign” was an object lesson, revealing the divine power of Jesus to give light to the eyes, and at the same time, subtly revealing the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees and Levites attending to the Menorah.

  • And finally, the seventh sign, the raising of Lazarus in John 11, is the climax of signs.  Lazarus is presented as a token of the real, spiritually alive, life which Jesus, THE Resurrection and THE Life, who will now ironically be put to death because of His gift of life to Lazarus, desires to give ALL to those believing in Him then, and after He was seen raised from the dead.  Notice the irony of Jesus raising Lazarus and then enduring His own death in place of Lazarus.

John’s purpose in describing these seven signs in their unique order is clearly expressed in what some bible scholars say was the “original” ending of his Gospel, at the end of Chapter 20.  Besides these seven just described:

Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [His] disciples that are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

Amen!!  Amen!!          

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In the Church’s lit. summarize titleurgical history, the “wedding feast at Cana” is closely associated with the “adoration of the child Jesus by the Magi” and the “Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ”. The “sign” Jesus performs at the wedding feast is an “epiphany” (manifestation) of Jesus’ divinity to be celebrated.flickr-3699162219-hd

With these epiphanies in mind, awareness of Jesus’ Passion and death looming future on the Holy Cross is ever present in John’s Gospel.  Even in today’s narrative of Jesus’ “first sign”, the language used by John anticipates Jesus’ future Passion.  When Jesus says to His “mother” that “His hour has not yet come”, Jesus protests against her wishes in words John used again when describing Jesus’ “Last Supper” with His disciples in John 13:1.  When introducing the story of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet [also only found in John’s Gospel], John writes that Jesus knew His “hour had come”.  Per John, Jesus is very much in command and extremely aware of ALL that is to happen to Him, from the very beginning.

Throughout John’s Gospel, Mary is never mentioned by name, but is referred to instead as “the mother of Jesus”.  Mary is overridingly influential in Jesus’ first “sign”.  She will never abandon her Son, even being present at Jesus’ Crucifixion.  Mary was (and still is) a faithful and constant witness to the final manifestation – – “sign” and epiphany – – of Jesus’ divinity.

John’s Gospel describes seven “signs” indicating Jesus’ true divine nature and identity to His disciples.  He never speaks of these “signwordsandeedslogosas miracles because their importance is not in the deed – – the action – – which Jesus performs, but instead in what these deeds indicate in regard to Jesus’ true nature and identity.  In today’s reading, Jesus’ disciples are said to “begin to believe”.  However, no mention is made as to whether the other wedding guests are even aware of what has happened.  (But, they thought the wine was heavenly in deed!)

Here, at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, John’s Gospel seeks to establish that Jesus is going to re-define and fulfill God’s promise to “Israel”.  Jesus is establishing the New Covenant promised to the Water_Wine_Renderprophets.  A hint about what this New Covenant will be like is made evident in His deed – – the action Jesus performs.  Asked to do something about the awkward situation that a lack of wine at the wedding feast would create, Jesus’ miraculous “sign” produces vast quantities of wine: six jars overflowing with over 180 gallons of superior wine.

This overflowing response to a simple human request is a vision for us – – a “sign” – – about the vast abundance of God’s kingdom.  It challenges us to respond generously when confronted with our needs, and others’, today.  Responding as best as we can, fully confident that, like the mother of Jesus, God can transform our efforts, brings the Kingdom of God to fulfillment among us here and now!

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We. conclusionddings are magnificent and breathtaking celebrations.  We go out of our way to make the occasion festive and extraordinary.  People work hard to please one another with a special kind of JOY.  What better image of the Kingdom of God can there be than070114_weddinggift a wedding feast!  Wedding celebrations are not an everyday occurrence.  ut we can anticipate the Kingdom of God each and every day through our kindness, attention, and care to one another’s needs.

Reflect about weddings and other feasts and HOW they are used as images in Holy Slove others_t_nvcripture for the Kingdom of God.  Consider how these festive occasions are images of God’s tremendous, overflowing, love for us – – and examples of how we can show our love for one another.  Think about Mary’s attentiveness to the needs of the wedding hosts, and about Jesus’ response to His mother’s request.  What can you learn from today’s Gospel story?  Reflect on, and consider ways – – actions or deeds – – in which you might show these same sort of generous and loving values in your daily life.  Create your own “sign” for God’s plan in your life and for His kingdom on earth!!

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Reflecti. prayer sfon Prayer: 

Prayer for Generosity

(St. Ignatius of Loyola)

“Eternal Word, only begotten Son of God,
Teach me true generosity. generosity-revolution-revisited-graphic
Teach me to serve you as you deserve.
To give without counting the cost,
To fight heedless of wounds,
To labor without seeking rest,
To sacrifice myself without thought of any reward
Save the knowledge that I have done your will.
Amen.”

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♫“You Light Up My Life♫- – But I Still Have My Flashlight, Just In Case!” – Matthew 25:1-13†


 

 Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

 Today’s Content:

 

  • Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • Today in Catholic History
  • Joke of the Day
  • Today’s Gospel Reading
  • Gospel Reflection
  • Reflection Psalm
  • New Translation of the Mass
  • A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
  • Franciscan Formation Reflection
  • Reflection on part of  the SFO Rule

 

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 Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

  

Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions
for November, 2011

 

General Intention:

That the Eastern Catholic Churches and their venerable traditions may be known and esteemed as a spiritual treasure for the whole Church.

Missionary Intention:

For Justice and Reconciliation in Africa:
That the African continent may find strength in Christ to pursue justice and reconciliation as set forth by the second Synod of African Bishops.

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Tuesday, November 8th, is Election Day for most of the United States of America.  Please vote.

 

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 Today in Catholic History:

    

†   1406 – Death of Innocent VII, [Cosma de’ Migliorati], Italian Pope (1404-06)
†   1789 – Pope Pius VI appoints Father John Carroll as the first Catholic bishop in the United States.
†   1875 – Death of John Baptist van Son, Dutch Catholic politician, at age 71
†   Feasts/Memorials: St. Leonard of Noblac; St. Winnoc

(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com &/OR
“Today in Catholic History”
http://www.historyorb.com)

 

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 Joke of the Day:

 

 

  

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus telling the parable of the wise and the ten foolish virgins, teaching His disciples the importance of being prepared to receive the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

(NAB Matthew 25:1-13) 1“Thenthe kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  2Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  3The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, 4but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.  5Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.  6At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom!  Come out to meet him!’  7Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.  8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  9But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.  Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’  10While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.  Then the door was locked.  11Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’  12But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’  13Therefore, stay awake,* for you know neither the day nor the hour.

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 Gospel Reflection:

 

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus talks about what it means to be “prepared” to receive the Kingdom of Heaven.  This reading follows a series of warnings and predictions by Jesus about the coming of the Son of Man, the “Parousia”.  Jesus wants His disciples to understand that the exact day and time cannot be predicted, for only God the Father knows the time.  He teaches the disciples that they must remain always vigilant so that they will not be caught unprepared.

When reflecting on the parable of the “wise and foolish virgins” from today’s reading, it is important to consider the first-century wedding traditions of Palestine.  Bible Scholars believe it was the custom of the day for young maidens—friends and family members of the bride—to meet the bridegroom when he came to bring his bride to her new home.

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The Parable of the “Ten Virgins” can only be found in Matthew’s Gospel.  As with many of Jesus’ other parables, several levels of interpretation are easily possible (just like separating the layers of an onion).  In last week’s Sunday Gospel, Jesus warned against following the example (and not the words) of the Temple leaders, chiefly the Pharisees and Scribes.  Today’s Gospel, – – when read in the context of Matthew’s early Church’s Christian on-going struggle to define itself against the misinterpreted Pharisaic Judaism, – – is a continuing critique and condemnation of that time.  This reading suggests that the Jewish leaders were like the foolish virgins, unprepared to meet Jesus who is the bridegroom of Israel.

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Jesus’ story of ten young women seems strange to most modern westerners today.  But Matthew’s audience knew how easy this event could happen in their society.  Wedding customs in ancient Palestine required extra vigilance and preparation for everyone involved.  (Some places in the world still follow this custom, in today’s reading.)  The bride and groom did not go away for their honeymoon, but celebrated for a whole week with their family and friends, twenty-four hours at that (Now that’s partying in the extreme!!). 

It was the custom for the groom to come at his discretion to get his bride and bring her to the wedding party.  If he came at night, lamps were obviously required, out of necessity (there were no public street lights in the first century). 

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Just prior to this week’s reading is the parables of the “Unknown Day and Hour” (Matthew 24: 36-44) and the “Faithful or the Unfaithful Servant” (Matthew 24: 45-51).  Along with these two parables, today’s parable is also about the time of the “Parousia”.  Knowing this explains the very first word, “Then”, meaning “at the time of the parousia”, followed immediately by, “the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins ….”  What a very thought-provoking sentence; it is not simple in structure nor meaning.

 The comparison of virgins and the kingdom in Matthew 25:1 does not mean that the kingdom of heaven may be likened simply to the ten virgins in question but to the situation related in the entire story. (In reading any part of Holy Scripture, we must take the whole of it and not just take a little part out of context.)  Today’s parable is a warning to Jesus’ disciples not to attempt to anticipate the Final Judgment of God, nor the limits of His kingdom.  His kingdom on earth is presently composed of the “good” and “bad”.  The sole judgment of God will eliminate the sinful, at His time – – not ours!!  Until then there must be patient and repentant as John the Baptist repeated preached throughout his ministry.

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I love the image of these ten virginal women who were split down the middle: five “wise” and five “foolish”.  I wonder, did they have blond jokes back then?  Matthew used this “foolish…wise” contrast once before:

Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. … And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand.” (Matthew 7:24, 26)

The two groups of each parable are distinguished by good deeds and lack of good deeds.  The deed in today’s reading is signified by the “oil” of this parable.

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No one knows when Jesus will return for the “final judgment”, the Parousia.  We cannot anticipate or linger behind in our preparations for this time.  It is interesting that the phrase “trimmed their lamps” is used (verse 7).  Trimming a lamp means “preparing for use”.  It entails filling with oil, literally cutting off the bad part of the wick, and removing any excess so as to make the lamp burn more effectively and efficiently. 

For us, to prepare for the Parousia we need to “trim our lamps”.  Preparation includes our proper actions with ourselves and each other, AND with God.  Do you see Jesus Christ in yourself and others?  Do you participate in the Sacraments regularly, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation?  The Holy Eucharist fills us to the brim with the fuel of God, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation removes the evil and immoral excesses we collect in our sinful state.

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The exclamation “Lord, Lord”, found in verse 11, is a re-edification of a similar verse from much earlier in Matthew’s Gospel:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

In both verses, entrance into the kingdom is only for those who do the will of God the Father.  On the Day of Judgment the morally corrupt will be rejected by Jesus Christ.  The reply to these women in today’s parable, “I do not know you”, is also very similar to the one in Matthew 7:

I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’” (Matthew 7:23)

 

Thank God that Jesus doesn’t stop with the ominous statement of “I do not know you.”  He goes on to offer hope for those who trust and prepare for His return.  We need to “Stay awake”; to be always ready.  The wise virgins were adequately equipped and PREPARRED.  The wise virgins prepared as the master of the house would have prepared for the thief coming in the night:

If the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.” (Matthew 24:44)

Being unprepared can lead to a lot of unnecessary trouble, and can even lead to disastrous consequences!  After all, what good is a life-jacket left on shore when the boat is sinking?  Let us all take a lesson from the Boy Scout motto:  “Be Prepared!”

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To summarize, Jesus warns us that there are consequences for being unprepared.  There are certain things you cannot obtain at the last moment.  For example, a student cannot adequately prepare for his exam on the day of testing.  A person cannot get the right kind of temperament or skill required for an impending task unless he already possesses the temperament and skills by the time of the task.  

Our eternal happiness and wellbeing depends on our “hearing”, and sadly, many have trained themselves not to hear.  Those not hearing will also not be prepared to meet Jesus Christ on His return, when He calls us on the Day of Judgment.  We need to listen to Him TODAY and EVERY DAY!! 

 

In conclusion, in the chapter preceding this parable (Chapter 24), Jesus warns about the destruction of Jerusalem, the tribulation of the end times, and the coming of the Son of Man – – the “Parousia”.  Keeping this in mind, today’s parable is a warning to the Catholic Christian community to remain ever vigilant and always prepared to receive Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, who will return at the end of time for the Final Judgment.  This interpretation is supported by the reference to the “delay of the bridegroom”.  The Jewish-Catholic community, for whom Matthew wrote this Gospel, was coming to terms with the realization that the promise of Jesus’ return would possibly not be fulfilled within their mortal lifetimes.  So, the question remains for us to ask to ourselves, “Are we ready to receive Jesus? AND,  Will we be prepared to receive him?”

In our daily activities, it is easy to find excuses for not attending to our spiritual lives.  If not given the “top priority”, prayer and reading of Holy Scripture risks becoming “occasional” activities rather than daily practices.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that if we fail to give our spiritual life priority, we will find ourselves unprepared to receive Jesus.  Daily prayer, spiritual practice, and frequent reception of the Sacraments help to keep us ready to receive Jesus Christ.

What are some of the things our faith calls us to do every day, every week, every moment, to keep God FIRST in our lives?  What might happen if these things are not done regularly?  Jesus taught us that it is important to keep ourselves prepared and ready to receive Him when he comes again.  Jesus says that it is so important to remain ready to receive the Kingdom of Heaven since you will not have time to prepare after He arrives for the Final Judgment.  Pray that you will always keep God “FIRST” in your lives so that you will “be prepared” to receive Jesus when He comes.

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  Reflection Prayer:

 

Psalm 63

Our souls are thirsting for God.

 

“O God, you are my God— it is you I seek!  For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, in a land parched, lifeless, and without water.  I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory.  For your love is better than life; my lips shall ever praise you!  I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands, calling on your name.  My soul shall be sated as with choice food, with joyous lips my mouth shall praise you!  I think of you upon my bed, I remember you through the watches of the night you indeed are my savior, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.  Amen” (Psalm 63:2-8)

  

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New Translation of the Mass:

 

 

In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass.  It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist.  The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades.  It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.

The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text.  At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning.  At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand.  Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole.  It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.

In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.

 

When the priest invites us to share in the Lord’s Supper, we now say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”  With the new Missal, we will respond:

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

The use of “under my roof” is a reference to the Gospel passage where the centurion asks Jesus to heal his servant but says he is not worthy for Jesus to enter his house (Luke 7:6).  The other change is “my soul” instead of “I”, which focuses more clearly on the spiritual dimension of the healing we seek.

Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: Blessed Alfonso Lopez, priest, and companions, martyrs

Blessed Alfonso Lopez was born at Secorún, in the dioceses of Jaca, on 16th November 1875.  He held various civil offices, but he felt to be called to religious life, so he entered the convent of Granollers in 1906.   He was sent to Italy, where he was received in the Seraphic Province of Umbria.  He spent his novitiate at Osimo, pronouncing his temporary vows in 1908 and his perpetual profession in 1911, the same year of his priestly ordination.  He was confessor in the Basilica of Loreto, then he returned to Granollers, where he carried out the task of teacher of the postulants and novices until 1935.  He distinguished himself by his virtues, mainly by his love for God, for his neighbour and his devotion for the Virgin Mary.  He was an excellent formator of the applicants for consecrated life that he mainly directed with the example of his virtuous life.

At the outbreak of the civil war, Alphonzo Lopez was a Friar Minor Conventual priest (OFM, Conv.).  He took refuge at some of his friends and was arrested on 3rd August 1936, along with Friar Miguel Remón Salvador and four other companions.  They showed themselves brave in the face of the request of apostasy.  In the end, they were taken to Samalús and shot in the evening of the same day, while Father Alfonso repeated, with spirit of faith and charity, “Forgive them, My Lord”.

From his degree on Martyrdom:

“The Servants of God Alfonso López López and his 5 brethren of the Conventual Franciscan Order belong to this huge multitude.

The Spanish civil war (1936-1939) didn’t spare their convent, in the town of Granollers, in Barcelona district, where they lived at that time.

In 1936, immediately after the military insurrection of the 19th July, the authors of political change rushed into the convent searching for weapons; they didn’t find any, but they threatened the friars and threw them out of their house, compelling them to take refuge at their neighbors and friends.  They could hide themselves only for one week.

In such a hostile and irreligious environment, the seed of terror and death threats against the Church and Her children, as it was in Spain at that time, these followers of St. Francis of Assisi were imprisoned and condemned to death, just because they were Christ’s disciples.

They shed their blood with inner serenity and meekness, giving glory to God with the profession of faith and forgiving their enemies. ” (from the Decree on the martyrdom )

Blessed Alphonso Lopez was Beatified by Pope John Paul II on March 11, 2001.

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 Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Saint Francis and Penance

Do I live this “penance” from a sense of duty, or of a love relationship?  How?

In what ways do change and conversion require detachment and humility (a form of poverty)?

Why is it important to realize that every personal sin have social consequences?

Do I think of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a positive celebration of the mercy of God?

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule
Subsection #’s 6 & 7 of 26:

06.  They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.

Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops, and priests, fostering an open and trusting dialog of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.

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07.  United by their vocation as “brothers and sisters of penance” and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel calls “conversion.” Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily.

On this road to renewal the sacrament of reconciliation is the privileged sign of the Father’s mercy and the source of grace.