“They watched him closely to see if he would heal on the sabbath.” This poor man with a withered hand would be seen as a sever disability, as most men made their living by manual labour. The Pharisees’ interpretation of the law regarding the sabbath day is better highlighted in Luke’s Gospel. “There are six days when work is to be done. Come and be healed on one of those days and not on the sabbath.” For the Jews the sabbath is holy and is a day of rest. No work is allowed. In their opinion unless there is a life-threatening condition no work is to be done, healing counts as a medical treatment and is prohibited on the sabbath day.
Jesus says to the man “Stand up in the middle” The verb ‘stand up’ is better translated as ‘rise up’ it is the same Greek word used for Jesus’ resurrection. Mark often uses this word in healing stories to indicate that Jesus is bring about not only physical healing but a restoration to fullness of life. The man stretches out his crippled hand and he is restored.
The Pharisees’ refusal to answer Jesus’ question “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath?” makes Jesus angry. Mark’s Gospel makes Jesus look around at his audience with a searching gaze. A gaze that penetrates the heart. The inner place that only God can see. Mark gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ interior reaction; He is angry and deeply grieved at their hardness of heart. A hardness of heart is a stubbornness and a refusal to be open to God. Anger is often used in the OT to describe God’s resentment towards human evil acts.
But why did Jesus rock the boat with the Pharisees, why did he heal on the sabbath? In all four Gospels every healing initiated by Jesus takes place on the sabbath. On the other days, the sick themselves or their relations and friends approach Jesus seeking healing. But only on the sabbath does Jesus takes the initiative. Jesus prefers to heal on the sabbath because He is the Son of Man, He is the Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus is exercising His Lordship by undoing the effects of sin and restoring the fullness of life that God intended from the beginning of creation. Jesus fulfils the original purpose of the sabbath, to bring humanity into a communion with God.
So, let us ask Jesus for any physical and spiritual healing that we may need. He knows the inner depths and desires of our hearts. Let us be open to God and remove any stubbornness of heart. Jesus is Lord of the sabbath, He is our brother, we are His family. Let us remain close to Him always.
“They have no wine” as you can imagine, this is something you dread to hear, or maybe fear the most. Not just at a wedding venue, but more importantly when you arrive into a parish presbytery for a few weeks placement over the New Year. Luckily for me, the parish here in Kendal is well stocked up.
At the wedding in Cana, it is the bridegroom’s responsibility to provide the wine, and since the celebrations could last a few days, we hear that the wine was gone. This would cause great embarrassment for the host especially if they were only halfway through the wedding celebrations, and the wine was completely finished. Therefore, Mary requests Jesus to help their friends in their time of need.
This miracle was the beginning of Jesus’ signs. In John’s Gospel the evangelist refers to Jesus’ miracles as signs because these are great works of divine power, revealing His Glory. A sign that points to Jesus’ exaltation and glorification during His ‘hour’, lifted high for all nations on a cross.
We hear Jesus saying in the Gospel ‘My hour has not yet come’, which is the time when He fully reveals Himself as the ‘Son of God’ and shows the Father’s love, by accomplishing His saving mission on the cross.
Mary tells the servers ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ There is a link here that echo’s the words of the Israelites in the book of Exodus when they respond to God’s offer of a covenant, ‘Everything the Lord has said, we will do”. Mary instructs the servers to listen to Her Son, like the Israelites that listened to the Lord at Mount Sinai. Mary is also interceding between Her Son and the members of the household, presenting their needs to Jesus, and encourages them through discipleship to obey and to trust in Him.
There were six stone water jars, totalling up to 180 gallons. This is such a huge quantity, more than anyone could expect for a wedding banquet. Here are some quick calculations. Today five bottles of wine equal one gallon. Therefore, 180 gallons is the same as 900 bottles of wine. That is definitely more than currently held in the presbytery. This sign shows the superabundance of Jesus’ love and generosity to His friends at the wedding banquet. He let His Glory be seen.
Jesus now takes up the role of the bridegroom, on whose responsibility it was to provide the wine. In Isaiah we read ‘as the bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.” God wants to share his life utterly with us, as a bridegroom loves and cherishes his bride.
We also read in the scriptures, when the Messiah comes there will be a banquet of great celebrating with a superabundance of wine. “On this mountain the Lord of Hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and fine wines.” Elsewhere we read “On that day the hills will drip with new wine.” Jesus, the Son of God made Flesh, is presenting Himself as the bridegroom for his people, which points towards God’s saving act of salvation.
At Mass here today, Jesus is transforming wine into His own Body and Blood, which He will pour out upon His people who are gathered here at the Lord’s table. Jesus is our host for the banquet meal, and He serves His Body and Blood, acting as the bridegroom who comes to marry His people – the Church.
This Sunday is Peace Sunday, and we have been asked by Pope Francis to reflect upon the theme ‘Education, work and dialogue between generations’. The Wedding at Cana falls nicely into this theme. A celebration where young and old come together, where love and hope are re-awakened, by watching the joyous newly wedded couple, publicly pledging their love for each other.
At times our love runs dry, like hearing the words ‘we have no wine’. But we rely on Jesus to renew our love, our peace and our joy in our daily lives. As the stewards placed their trust in Jesus in Cana, let us also place our trust, hope and love solely in the Lord Jesus. It is at the Lord’s banquet table where He shares superabundantly His peace overflowing with fine wines. With Mary as our Mother interceding for us, and Jesus our bridegroom, let us place our trust in Him.
Lk 21, 25-28; 34-36
As we ponder on the scripture readings about the end times, today we celebrate a New Liturgical year. The season of Advent. So, Happy New Year to you all. We have just lit our first candle on the Advent wreath, a symbol of ‘Hope’ for the weeks ahead.
In today’s Gospel reading, the key line that stood out for me was:
“They will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
For us as believers it will be a sight to behold. Just imagine it. The Lord who we love and adore, the Lord we worship every time we go to Mass, Jesus is coming again in power and great glory to bring us home with him. But Jesus will not come alone, there will be the Hosts of Angels and the Saints. At Christmas we will hear how the Host of Angels, told the Shepherds the Good News about the birth of Jesus. So, just imagine again in your minds, what that might look like. The ‘Host of Angels’ which are all the Angels in heaven descending upon us, thousands upon thousands. Another magnificent sight.
With this in mind, let us add Jesus to the scene, as He descends on a cloud towards us. And what does scripture tell us to do during this time? We are told not to run away or to hide, but to stand erect, hold our heads high. Be proud to be called Christians, be proud to be different, be proud in proclaiming the Good News from the mountain tops.
It was for this very reason, I wanted to become a priest. I wanted to help prepare the way for the Lord, for His second coming. We do not know the time or the hour, only the Father knows, but the time will appear like a trap. We have to be ready and waiting. We have all heard the passage in scripture when Jesus will come and divide the people’s on the last day. The sheep on His right who are destined for Heaven, and the Goats on His left. When I heard this, I wanted to make sure the number on His right were greater than the goats on His left.
But how do we prepare ourselves for the Lord’s coming?
This season of Advent will help us to do this; it is like Lent. Both seasons have similar liturgical colours. Advent is Violet, and Lent is Purple. These deep colours have the meaning of penance and preparation.
We are preparing ourselves to receive the ‘Word made flesh, who dwelt amongst us’, Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, coming from heaven to the earth as a baby boy, born in Bethlehem, a branch from tribe of David.
So, don’t be too keen to start celebrating Christmas just yet, delay putting the tree up and the Christmas decorations. We need to step back and wait, prepare yourselves first, in watchful and active waiting, through daily prayer and love of neighbour. Come to daily Mass, receive regular confession, and give to charity. Devote yourselves more deeply in the participation of the Mass. Sing from the roof tops, and ‘go announce the Gospel of the Lord’, which is one of the dismissal announcements the priest or deacon says at the end of Mass. Instructing us to ‘pass on’ what we have heard in Church and to spread the Good News to the outside world.
In this season of Advent, remain Hopeful, God comes to us in every situation, he comes to dwell amongst us, to live with us, and within us. He comes to fill the gaps that divide and separate us, he comes to reconcile us with himself and with one another. He comes into our human history to knock at the door of every person of good will, brings gifts of harmony, peace and love.
Remain hopeful in the Lord Jesus, stand erect, hold your heads high, because the Son of Man is coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Homily – Our Lady of Walsingham – John 19, 25-27
“The disciple made a place for her in his home.” What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘home’. A place of safety, a place to relax, a place where family and loved ones are present.
While Jesus was hanging on the cross, He gave his mother to the beloved disciple, in order to keep her safe especially from the Roman authorities. But John’s Gospel goes deeper than that, the Greek translation of the verb is to ‘receive’. The beloved disciple receives the mother of Jesus into his home. In these words, from the cross, Jesus reveals the spiritual relationship among himself, his mother, and the beloved disciple, as the family of God. If the beloved disciple shares spiritually in Jesus’ own life as the Son, then he also has Mary for his spiritual mother. As Eve became the mother of all the living, the second Eve – Mary becomes the mother of all believers.
Today is the memorial of Our Lady of Walsingham, a place where many of us have visited on pilgrimage in recent days, and over the years. We can picture the location where the Holy House was located before it was destroyed.
It was Lady Richeldis, a holy woman, a lady of faith, with a great love for Mary, asked Our Lady for a way to honour her. It was from this desire in her heart that the events of Walsingham unfolded.
While she was in prayer and in meditation, the Virgin Mary led her in Spirit to Nazareth, to show her the house of the Annunciation, asking her to build a replica in Walsingham as a perpetual memorial. It would be a place where people could come to honour her Son, remembering especially Mary’s joyful ‘yes’ to the Angel Gabriel. For the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us. That house in Nazareth would become the boyhood home of the Son of God himself. A home, a place of safety, and a place of love.
May we keep a place for Jesus and Mary in our hearts daily, while pondering on Mary’s ‘yes’ at the Annunciation.
We are here now, due to our ‘yes’ living at St. Mary’s College, our house of brotherly love and fraternity, with our fellow seminarians and lecturers. But more importantly with our brother, Jesus Christ, all of us living under the protection of Our Mother, the Queen of Heaven.
Our Lady of Walsingham – Pray for us.