The Wedding at Cana
By Dane and Anne MacCarthy
Cana has a special affection for us as we fondly remember a pilgrimage trip to Israel in 1997 when, along with other married couples in our group, we had the opportunity to renew our wedding vows in the little church at Cana in Galilee. This weekend’s Cana readings give us pause to reflect on a number of things. We understand that the Evangelist John mentions Mary by name only twice in his Gospel. Today’s reading is a significant first – Mary asking her son, Jesus, to perform a miracle at the beginning of his public ministry. Though reluctant, He agrees. Maybe we need to call on Jesus through His mother at challenging times in our lives – how can a son say no to his mother? But why at a wedding celebration did Jesus perform the first of His signs? We married couples like to believe that He wanted to recognize marriage as a key event in many lives. Marriage marks the beginning of a new family, and is not family a little church? This Cana event points the way to the establishment of marriage as a sacrament (which admittedly did not occur until centuries later). Possibly, this is why marriage can seem to be the forgotten sacrament. Yes, the wedding day (or days as in the time of Jesus when a week of celebration was the norm) is certainly a highlight for a couple with all the accompanying dazzle – including plenty of wine. But how do we and even our Church honour the sacrament of marriage after the wedding day – when couples need that support in living out day to day life with its many struggles and challenges? We would be delighted to see in the worldwide church, a special day to honour marriage, as is the case for the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, the World Day of Prayer for the Sick etc… Here in the Archdiocese of Toronto, we are fortunate that our Archbishop, Cardinal Collins, has since 2011, designated the second Sunday in February as Marriage Sunday. On this day, all parishes in the Archdiocese are asked to honour married couple in a significant way, be it by special blessing or the communal celebration of significant wedding anniversaries. The Cana experience is also seen as being about transformation from the old law to the new, as well as the ongoing transformation of our lives whether our vocation be Marriage, Holy Orders, Consecrated Religious or Single Life. Indeed, Cana gives us much cause to reflect.
- Isaiah 62.1-5
- Psalm 96
- 1 Corinthians 12.4-11
- John 2.1-12
The Baptism of the Lord
By Marilena Berardinelli
Today the church celebrates the Baptism of Jesus and concludes the Christmas Season. Contrary to mainstream culture, who has long since placed their Christmas trees at the curb and are now eying the Valentine’s Day treats and gifts already displayed on store shelves, the Christian community has for the last twenty days celebrated the mystery of Christ’s coming in the world. For the last three weeks we have lived in the hope and joy of the Incarnation.
The placement of the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus at the end of Christmas Season emphasizes the biblical narrative begun on Christmas Eve. The Word became flesh as a fragile baby not a powerful king; born in the smallest of Israel’s cities not the grandeur of Jerusalem and grew-up not with kingly wealth, but in the poverty of the insignificant village of Nazareth. For thirty years Jesus lived in obscurity and his introduction to public ministry was made not with fanfare, but among the sinners seeking John’s baptism of repentance.
The gospel accounts of Jesus’ baptism reaffirm that this Jesus, who shares fully in our human condition, is also fully God: “You are my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” Therefore, when we are baptized the beginning of this same divine life is sown in us. The Baptism of the Lord bookends the feast of the first incarnation and propels us to ponder Jesus’ second incarnation, when that Word assumes the mystical body – us. Christ in us, is the vehicle by which God continues to transform the world.
At St. Basil’s we celebrate about 40 baptisms a year within our Sunday liturgies. It is easy to become a bystander in these celebrations. Perhaps however, we can see in each of these baptisms an opportunity to examine how we are nurturing the divine life within us. How are we cooperating with God’s desire to break into the world each day, again and again? How are we, the mystical body of Christ, exercising our gifts, talents and charisms to engage and realize God’s mission in the world?
Christ has no body here on earth but yours;
No hands, but yours.
No feet, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ looks with compassion on the world.
Yours are the feet with which
Christ goes about doing good in the world.
Yours are the hands with which
Christ blesses the people of the world.
(Saint Teresa of Avila)
Titus 2.11-14; 3.4-7
Luke 3.15-16, 21-22
And You Are Never The Same
By Elizabeth Chesley-Jewell
The Feast of the Epiphany celebrates a human encounter with the Divine. It reminds us that once such an encounter has occurred it is impossible to return to the way things were before. The original course of events has been altered forever. The Magi, being from the East, would not have considered the Christ child to be their Messiah. However, they knew that the appearance of this new star in the sky meant the King of the Jews had been born and wanted to pay the new King homage. Once they arrived at the home of the Holy Family we are told, “they were overwhelmed with joy.” They witness the Divine in human form and are transformed and humbled. In the Atrium when we share this story with the children we will sometimes ask, “Do you think the Magi kept what they saw and knew to themselves? Or did they share it with others?” Quite often the children will respond, “They told everyone.” There is nothing more humbling than the knowledge that the one who gave His life for us will always love us. It seems so simple, but it is so difficult as humans to allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the presence of Christ in our lives. Sometimes there are big moments where the presence of God is everywhere. For myself, the Feast of the Epiphany is also my wedding anniversary. A year today my husband and I vowed to love and honour each other all the days of our lives. Our vows to each other were an encounter with God, where we invite Him into our marriage and lives. And although we exited St. Basil’s that day from the same doors, we did not leave the same way we had come in. Of course, that is a very specific day at a very specific moment in time. The challenge is to keep the Feast of the Epiphany present in the ordinary days. What happens after we receive the gift of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist? We are called to go out into the world, perhaps by another road, and bring Christ to others. Just as the Magi brought their experience of seeing the newborn King to their people. We may take the opportunity to feed the hungry, help a stranger, or listen to the lonely. And, who knows, in that moment you may encounter the Divine all over again. And the joy of the Epiphany continues.
- Isaiah 60.1-6
- Psalm 72
- Ephesians 3.2-3a, 5-6
- Matthew 2.1-12