Thứ Sáu, 6 tháng 1, 2017


Christmas Weekday
Lectionary: 210

Reading 11 JN 5:14-21
We have this confidence in God,
that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 
And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask,
we know that what we have asked him for is ours. 
If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly,
he should pray to God and he will give him life.
This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. 
There is such a thing as deadly sin,
about which I do not say that you should pray. 
All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.

We know that no one begotten by God sins;
but the one begotten by God he protects,
and the Evil One cannot touch him.
We know that we belong to God,
and the whole world is under the power of the Evil One. 
We also know that the Son of God has come
and has given us discernment to know the one who is true. 
And we are in the one who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. 
He is the true God and eternal life. 
Children, be on your guard against idols.

R. (see 4a) The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy upon their couches;
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaLK 7:16
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst
and God has visited his people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 2:1-11
There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
"They have no wine."
And Jesus said to her,
"Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come."
His mother said to the servers,
"Do whatever he tells you."
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told them,
"Fill the jars with water."
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
"Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter."
So they took it. 
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 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."
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.

Meditation: “Jesus manifested his glory at Cana”
John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, tells us that Jesus did many signs in the presence of his disciples. John recorded seven of these signs to strengthen our belief that 'Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name' (John 20:30-31). Jesus' first sign took place at a wedding reception in the town of Cana, which was very close to Nazareth in Galilee where Jesus grew up. What does this sign tell us about about Jesus? And what is its significance for us?  
From skepticism to belief
John locates his account of Jesus' first sign by telling us that it occurred on the third day (John 2:1-2). What is the significance of the third day? This is three days after skeptical Nathaniel’s first encounter with Jesus. Philip had encouraged Nathaniel to “come and see” for himself who this Jesus was. When Nathaniel met Jesus, Jesus did something out of the ordinary. He revealed something personal about Nathaniel that only Nathaniel would have known. And then Jesus made a claim: 'You shall see greater things than these.' And he said to Nathaniel, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man"  (John 1:50-51). Jesus in so many words told Nathaniel, '“You don't just have to believe my words, what I am saying here. I am going to perform signs that will back up the truth of what I’m saying and prove that I am who I claim to be.' If someone makes that kind of claim to you, you are going to closely watch whatever he does to see if he can make good on the claim. You want to find out if he is genuine or just an imposter or maybe deluded and crazy. 

Turning failure into blessing
Three days later Jesus takes his disciples to a wedding reception and there he does something quite out of the ordinary, right in the middle of the celebration - and during a very embarrassing moment for the bride and groom. When Jesus' mother presses Jesus to do something about the situation, Jesus seems to put her off. But she knows her son very well and understands that Jesus will handle the situation that way he thinks best.

Why did the wedding party run out of wine in the middle of the feast? Perhaps Jesus contributed to this embarrassing failure by bringing a group of his disciples to the feast at the last minute. But Jesus had a purpose in turning a wedding feast fiasco into a blessing beyond reckoning. He wanted to bless a newly-wed couple and all those at the wedding banquet as well. Everyone received in abundance the best of wine. John describes Jesus' first public miracle as a sign. It is more than simply a demonstration of his power to change nature. It is a sign of what he has come to do - to transform the lives of all who will believe in him.

Bridegroom of the new Israel
Why did Jesus pick an ordinary wedding feast in a little out-of-the-way town to perform his first sign and to launch his public ministry? A wedding feast in nearly every culture is a very big event, often the biggest celebration that people experience, because it brings families, neighbors, and sometimes the whole town together. For many people it is the happiest and most memorable occasion in their life. 
For the people of Israel, the wedding feast had a special spiritual significance as well. It came to symbolize God’s special relationship and covenant with the people of Israel. The Old Testament describes God as the Bridegroom of Israel and presents his covenant relationship with the people of God as a spiritual marriage (Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:14; Hosea 2:16, 19-20). One of the most powerful images of heaven is the wedding banquet (Revelations 19:7-9). The Bible ends with the invitation to this marriage feast. "The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come'" (Revelations 21:17).

So when Jesus chooses a wedding feast for his first sign, he is giving us a hint about something that will become more explicit when John the Baptist describes Jesus as the betrothed bridegroom of his people (John 3:29). In the other Gospels Jesus also alludes to his role as the bridegroom of the new people of Israel (see Mark 2:18-20; Matthew 9:14-15; Matthew 22:1-14; Matthew 25:6) when he invites both Jews and Gentiles to share in his heavenly banquet at the end of the age (Luke 13:29). 

Changing water into wine 
What is so special about Jesus changing water into wine? Any good winemaker knows how to take a watery substance such as grape juice and turn it into wine. First you wait for the grapes to grow and mature. Then you pick the choicest grapes for the best wine you want to make. You crush the grapes into a mush. Then you add some water, yeast, and sugar. You allow this mixture to ferment over a period of several weeks. During that time you skim off the solid material until you are left with pure liquid - wine. Wine must be slightly aged to be drinkable - white wine must sit for half a year, and red wine for a full year. Some of the most famous wines are aged for many years. 

Jesus didn't turn the water into a fruity grape juice, or into ordinary table wine. He instantly produced the finest and most expensive of wines - a fine vintage wine that would normally take years to age. He didn’t produce just enough wine to satisfy the embarrassed bride and groom and guests. He produced 120 gallons! Abundance indeed. The instantaneous turning of water into wine shows Jesus' supernatural power to transform natural things - what is physical and material - into something of a higher order. He has the same power which God possesses - to create, transform, and change creation itself. 

The gift of abundant life
If Jesus can change water into wine for an embarrassed wedding couple, how much more can he change us through the transforming power of his Holy Spirit. John tells us that 'all who received him [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God' (John 1:12,13). Jesus gives us abundant life. This sign at Cana points to his power not simply to improve the quality of our lives but to change and transform us to be like him - people of joy, peace, and love who do not fear death, but who know and experience even now the taste of eternal life - the life of God’s kingdom. He gives us everything we need to live as his disciples - as sons and daughters of God.Jesus blessed a nameless couple in Cana, not only with his presence, but with his power. He will bless us as well, not only with his presence, but with his healing love and life-changing power. 

Let go of pride and fear
What might hold us back from allowing Jesus to change and transform us? Perhaps you feel that your faith is weak, or that you are unworthy to receive God's favor and gifts. Perhaps you struggle with anxiety or despair because your life feels hopelessly out of control. Jesus knows our struggles and weaknesses better than we do. And that doesn't stop him from offering us freedom and transformation through the gift and working of his Holy Spirit. 

Paul the Apostle reminds us that God chooses to work in and through fragile and cracked vessels, such as us, to reveal the power of his glory and love. 'We have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us' (2 Corinthians 4:7).

If there is anything holding you back from trusting in Jesus, let it go - give it to Jesus. Let go of fear - fear of losing your life. Let go of pride - wanting to always be in control and get things to go your way. And let go of unbelief - the stubborn refusal to accept Jesus on his own terms and to deny that he has the words of eternal life. Be like Nathaniel and choose to follow the master - to the wedding banquet and beyond, to even greater things. 

"Heavenly Father, you have revealed your glory in our Lord Jesus Christ. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may bring you glory in all that I do and say.”

Daily Quote from the early church fathersJesus' first miracle manifests the King of Glory, by Bede the Venerable, 672-735 A.D.

"'By this sign he made manifest that he was the King of glory (Psalm 24:10), and so the church's bridegroom. He came to the marriage as a common human being, but as Lord of heaven and earth he could convert the elements as he wished. How beautifully appropriate it is that when he began the signs that he would show to mortals while he was still mortal he turned water into wine. [But] when he had become immortal through his resurrection, he began the signs that he would show only to those who were pursuing the goal of immortal life... Therefore, let us love with our whole mind, dearly beloved, the marriage of Christ and the church, which was prefigured then in one city and is now celebrated over the whole earth." (excerpt from HOMILIES ON THE GOSPELS 1.14)

Christmas Weekday

(1 John 5:14-21; Psalm 149)

KEY VERSE: "Do whatever he tells you" (v.5).
TO KNOW: In Jesus' day, wedding feasts typically lasted several days. The hosts had to provide adequate food and drink for the guests who had to travel many miles from outlying villages. Mary and Jesus, along with his disciples, were invited to a wedding at Cana, some nine miles northeast of Nazareth. Jesus' mother noticed that the young couple had run out of wide and interceded with Jesus on their behalf. Jesus addressed his mother by the unconventional title "woman." Mary was the new Eve whose offspring Jesus who, through his death and resurrection, would crush the head of the ancient serpent Satan (Gen 3:15). Though the "hour" of Jesus' saving work had not yet arrived, Mary turned to the servants and told them to "do whatever" her son told them. Miraculously, the jars of water used for Jewish purification rites were changed into new wine, equal to 20 to 30 gallons. The new wine was a symbol of God's abundant grace poured out in the last days (Am 9:13-14; Hos 14:7; Jer 31:12).
TO LOVE: Do I appeal to Mary as an intercessor in my life?
TO SERVE: Mary my Mother, help me to be obedient to your son and do whatever he tells me.
Optional Memorial of Saint Raymond of Peñyafort, priest

Raymond of Peñyafort joined the Dominicans in 1218. Upon the order of Pope Gregory IX he was assigned to compile all the official letters of popes since 1150. Elected third Master of the Order (1238-1240) Raymond served his brothers faithfully. He encouraged the friars to engage in dialogue with Muslims and Jews. The pope wanted to make Raymond an archbishop, but he declined, instead returning to Spain and the parish life he loved. Raymond's compassion helped many people return to God through the Sacrament of Penance. During his years in Rome, Raymond heard of the difficulties missionaries faced trying to reach non-Christians of Northern Africa and Spain. Raymond started a school to teach the language and culture of the people to be evangelized. His great influence on Church law led to his patronage of lawyers. He died in Barcelona on January 6, 1275.

Saturday 7 January 2017

Sat 7th. St Raymond of Penyafort. 1 John 5:14-21. The Lord takes delight in his people—Ps 149:1-6, 9. John 2:1-11.
A loving relationship.
The conversation between mother and son here seems out of character to say the least. Mary does not ask directly for what she wants of Jesus, and Jesus seems to rebuff her request before eventually yielding to her wishes. It seems to me that much of the communication between them is non-verbal, there is a loving understanding between them based on the life they have shared together. It is a fascinating glimpse into their unique relationship. With Jesus' public ministry beginning to gain attention as a result of this first miracle, Mary begins to fade into the background, but her last recorded words are especially apt to her role as mother of the savior: 'Do whatever he tells you.'


Saint Raymond of Penafort, a Dominican priest who worked to aid Christian captives during the era of the Crusades and also helped organize the Church’s legal code, will be celebrated liturgically on Jan. 7.
A contemporary of Saint Thomas Aquinas, he inspired the theologian to write the “Summa Contra Gentiles” for the conversion of non-Catholics. At least 10,000 Muslims reportedly converted as a result of St. Raymond’s evangelistic labors.
Descended from a noble family with ties to the royal house of Aragon, Raymond of Penafort was born during 1175 in the Catalonian region of modern-day Spain.
He advanced quickly in his studies, showing such a gift for philosophy that he was appointed to teach the subject in Barcelona by age 20. As a teacher, the young man worked to harmonize reason with the profession and practice of Catholic faith and morals. This included a notable concern for the poor and suffering.
Around age 30 the Spanish scholar went to study secular and Church law at Bologna in Italy. He earned his doctorate and taught there until 1219, when the Bishop of Barcelona gave him an official position in the diocese. During 1222, the 47-year-old Raymond joined the Dominican order, in which he would spend the next 53 years of his remarkably long life.
As a penance for the intellectual pride he had once demonstrated, the former professor was asked to write a manual of moral theology for use by confessors. The resulting “Summa Casuum” was the first of his pioneering contributions to the Church. Meanwhile, in keeping with his order’s dedication to preaching, the Dominican priest strove to spread the faith and bring back lapsed and lost members of the Church.
During his time in Barcelona, Raymond helped Saint Peter Nolasco and King James of Aragon to establish the Order of Our Lady of Mercy, whose members sought to ransom those taken captive in Muslim territory. During this same period Raymond promoted the Crusades through preaching, encouraging the faithful to defend their civilization from foreign threats.
Pope Gregory IX called the Dominican priest to Rome in 1230, asking him to compile the Church’s various decisions and decrees into one systematic and uniform collection. The resulting five books served for centuries as a basis of the Church’s internal legal system. Raymond was the Pope’s personal confessor and close adviser during this time, and nearly became the Archbishop of Tarragona in 1235. But the Dominican did not want to lead the archdiocese, and is said to have turned down the appointment.
Later in the decade, Raymond was chosen to lead the Dominicans, though he did so for only two years due to his advancing age. Ironically, however, he would live on for more than three decades after resigning from this post. During this time he was able to focus on the fundamentals of his vocation: praising God in prayer, making him known through preaching, and making his blessings manifest in the world. Raymond’s later achievements included the establishment of language schools to aid in the evangelization of non-Christians.
St. Raymond of Penafort’s long pilgrimage of faith ended on Jan. 6, 1275, approximately 100 years after his birth. Pope Clement VIII canonized him in 1601. His patronage extends toward lawyers in general, and canon lawyers in particular.