From a homily on the wedding at Cana.
A homily on Same-sex Marriage by Archbishop LaRade, O.F.A.
Second Sunday after Epiphany: January 17, 2016
Delivered by Most Reverend Roger LaRade, O.F.A.
Beloved Disciple Eucharistic Catholic Church, Toronto
Jesus "comes out"
Romans 12: 6-16, John 2: 1-11
This past Wednesday, the tirtheenth of January, we commemorated the Baptism of Jesus, and in doing so, we ended the season of Christmas-Epiphany. Today we celebrate the second Sunday after Epiphany. This year this is the only Sunday after Epiphany that we celebrate. Next Sunday, we enter already into the Pre-Lent season with Septuagesima Sunday. So, today is our only ‘green’ Sunday in a while and for several months to come.
I was of two minds in preparing the homily for this Sunday. It is, of course, an opportunity to talk about the Sacrament of Marriage, and of our Church’s position of inclusive Marriage. I’ve already issued a Pastoral Statement on inclusive Marriage. I will repost this on our Church Blog. But, I decided to focus on the significance of the miracle, or sign, performed by Jesus at Cana.
Over the Christmas-Epiphany season we have relived by our liturgical celebration and observance the foundational moments of the life of Jesus: His birth, the adoration of the Magi, Jesus at the age of twelve showing wisdom in the Temple, and His Baptism in the Jordan. Today, we are invited to be present at the wedding at Cana, where Jesus performed the miracle which is seen as the beginning of His public ministry.
In each of these ‘moments’ in the life of Jesus, there is a manifestation, and each one seems to widen the scope of the manifestation. We can go back to the Annunciation to Mary by the angel Gabriel, a private revelation, or manifestation; as well as, the revelation to Joseph in his dream. The Angelic praises in the “Glory to God in the highest” at the Nativity was witnessed by a small group only. Then, we have the Magi, who follow the star in faith, and adore the Child Jesus, again a revelation to a small group. Today, with the miracle at Cana, Jesus “comes out” if you will. We hear that by this action, Jesus “revealed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.”
Whenever we hear the gospel proclaimed at Mass, or when we read a gospel passage as part of our private or communal prayer, we should keep in mind that the purpose for reading this material is not primarily to read about historical facts. It isn’t even about drawing some lesson – practical or moral – from the passage read. Rather, we should hear or read scripture keeping in mind that in our reading, we are being invited to see it’s meaning for our present reality. In other words, in reading about Jesus changing water into wine at the wedding at Cana, we need to ask ourselves where, when and how this happens today. Let us ask ourselves: “What is it like to drink of the wine of Jesus?”
The Gospel passage for today’s Mass of the Second Sunday after Epiphany concludes by stating that in this miracle at Cana Jesus “revealed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.” So, this action of Jesus is another manifestation in line with the manifestations we have been celebrating during Christmas-Epiphany. Yet, there seems to me to be a difference. The manifestation we witness today seems to me to be a self-manifestation. Until now, the manifestations have all happened to Jesus, as it were. Remember these manifestations over the past several weeks: His birth, the adoration of the Magi, His baptism. Even the episode of Jesus’ teaching in the Temple can be viewed as yet an immature event since it portrays Jesus at the threshold of His coming of age.
It seems to me that as we reflect on the past several Sundays we discern a process of maturation, a process of growing up. We have followed Jesus from birth to adulthood. We have now come to a point when Jesus is the agent of His own transformation; He is actively deciding to manifest Himself, to show Himself for who He is, accepting and incarnating the divine will for His human life. We may even wonder whether Jesus was not in fact revealing Himself as He was discovering Himself. If we truly believe that Jesus was fully human, this would seem to be more than likely.
In other words, through the significant moments in His life, as well as through the day-to-day living of what is known as His ‘hidden life’ – through this process of maturing, of growing in self-knowledge – Jesus discovers Himself for who He truly is. And, just as progressively, Jesus accepts His vocation and lives it out.
The same is asked of each one of us; nothing more, nothing less.
So, we come to Cana, a small town located in the north of Galilee. With Jesus we are at a wedding feast and we drink of this water changed into wine. We taste this wine which is “choice wine”, the best wine, better than any wine we have ever tasted.
How does this wine make me feel?
What effect does it have on me?
What does it tell me about our host and his regard for me, his guest?
This wine is the wine we taste at every Communion. Jesus is our priest. The water changed into wine, the wine changed into blood. This wine, this blood, is “the wine of divinity”. This wine, this blood, is “the wine of the life of God”. We take part in this self-manifestation of Jesus at every Mass we attend. Those of us who receive the wine of Jesus receive His Spirit, and so become one with Him. How appropriate then that this miracle takes place at a wedding feast, the celebration of union.
Sharing in the wine of Jesus calls us to live the life of Jesus. It calls us to maturity, to an unfolding self-discovery of our vocation, to a manifestation of our self to others, in discerning our God-given gifts to live out our vocation, as is pointed out in the Epistle reading today.
As we join in the celebration of the Eucharist, let us pray that we may taste the wine of Jesus, that His life may flow into our life, and that our life may flow into the world.
 Aemiliana Löhr, The Mass Through the Year, Volume One – Advent to Palm Sunday (1958: Longmans, Green & Co Ltd), p. 88.
 Ibid., p. 88.
Little Hearts Group -Poor Clare Ty Mam Duw
Little Hearts are a group of Poor Clare friends, who receive a daily spiritual sharing from us at Ty Mam Duw to help them on their journey to God. By this means, our friends, keep in touch and have the assurance of our prayers. The themes of these sharings are the gift of the Holy Spirit; he is the author!
Heart Speaks to Heart
Dear Little Hearts,
This past Monday was Blue Monday, it marks a day when we are encouraged by the church to reflect upon those in our families and surrounds, and elsewhere who suffer from mental health issues. Depression and mental illness are a great cross for the sufferer and their families, it calls for the greatest compassion, patience and mercy. By and large it tends to span a greater time space than physical illness and by its nature demands more of others.
Anyone whose behaviour does not appear to fit the ‘ mould ‘ can be labelled as ‘mental ‘, this is not necessarily the case at all. The bullying, verbal abuse that we can see in our society for those who are ‘different’ is totally unacceptable.
Too often when man cannot understand another, others, they are tagged neurotic. We see this actually often in the lives of the Saints, people who suffered because of a total wrong interpretation of their actions or words. Saint Faustina certainly had this experience.
Among our Little Hearts group ( numbering about 350) there are quite a few people who either themselves, or have a releative suffering from depression or mental illness, eating disorders, addictions etc.
There are also valiant souls who have a depenedent parent with Alzheimers.
For some radical healing is possible, for others new life is possible, it can be a long road to recovery but it is possible and even those with chronic diagnosed mental illness can with love and care attain to be better quality of life. Lets remember and pray on Blue Mondays for all the mentally ill.
LOVE is the greatest healer.
Prayers for 'Blue Monday'
The third Monday in January is often dubbed 'Blue Monday' - the most depressing day of the year - due in part to debt levels, bad weather, divorce rates and the number of days since the Christmas holidays. For those suffering from longer-term depression and mental illness, January may be just a bit harder to bear.
In the run up to Blue Monday, the Mental Health Project of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has been raising awareness of St Dymphna - the patron saint of those with mental or nervous disorders or mental illness and of the St Dymphna Befriending Group- a support group for those facing mental health challenges.
Joanne Bird, a mental health practitioner and the co-ordinator of the befriending group says: "Mental distress can strike at any time in anyone's lives, and that's when it's so helpful to have someone kind nearby who will listen to you and support you".
Gail Sainsbury who works on the Mental Health Project at the Bishops Conference said: "I will be praying on 'Blue Monday' for all those who are in particular need at this time."
Prayer to Saint Dymphna for help:
Good Saint Dymphna, great wonder-worker in every affliction of mind and body, I humbly implore your powerful intercession with Jesus through Mary, the Health of the Sick, in my present need. (Mention it.)
Saint Dymphna, martyr of purity, patroness of those who suffer with nervous and mental afflictions, beloved child of Jesus and Mary, pray to Them for me and obtain my request.
(Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be.)
Saint Dymphna, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us.
Prayer to Our Lady of Mental Peace
Mother of tranquillity, Mother of hope,
Our Lady of Mental Peace, we reach out to you for what is needful in our weakness.
Teach a searching heart that God's Love is unchanging, that human love begins and grows by touching God's Love.
Let your gentle peace be always with us and help us to bring this same peace into the lives of others.
Our Lady of Mental Peace - Pray for us.
For more information about the St Dymphna Befriending Group and St Dymphna see: http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/blue-monday-130116
More about the project: http://www.mentalhealthproject.co.uk/project_9.html
The Story of St Dymphna: https://franciscanmissionassoc.org/prayer-requests/devotional-saints/st-dymphna/story/
Sanctæ Familiæ [Feast of the Most Holy Family]: January 10, 2016
Delivered by Most Reverend Roger LaRade, O.F.A.
Beloved Disciple Eucharistic Catholic Church, Toronto
© 2016 Roger LaRade
Colossians 3: 12-17, Luke 2: 42-52
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, doing so during this time of Christmas-Epiphany, when we focus on the manifestation of God become human. I think that we need to consider the Feast of the Holy Family within this context of God become human; after all, the family is an institution both human and divine.
The Feast of the Holy Family goes back to the year 1663, to the founding at Montreal of the Association of the Holy Family by Barbara d’Ailleboust, a native of Boulogne. This new devotion to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph soon spread across Canada, and Mgr. Laval, the Bishop of Québec, established in his diocese a feast of the Holy Family with its own Mass and Office. It was in 1893 that Pope Leo XIII expressed his approval of this celebration.But only after the First World War did devotion to the Holy Family become important. It did so because family life “had suffered greatly because of the first World War.” The purpose for this feast “was to improve family life” and contribute to “the spiritual restoration of the family”, as it’s put.
It doesn’t take much probing in older missals and books of piety to discover how this devotion has been used in an extremely sentimentalized and moralistic manner to support what many of us know from our own experience to be an unrealistic – no, rather an unreal – notion of the family. There is no doubt that the family is a foundational component of society, and that our faith speaks to family life. Most of us are born into families. I say ‘most of us’, for immediately we confront the many limitations imposed on the ideal family by real life. Indeed, many children who are adopted were not born into a family and have memories of being in an orphanage for a time or of being shuttled from foster family to foster family. From our experience, and our sharing the experience of others, we know that some family stories are stories of supportive and encouraging love. We also know that some family stories are horror stories of neglectful and abusive selfishness. In-between, there exists the multiplicity of human interactions, mixed experiences composed of good, bad and indifferent relationships coexisting in our memories and our present. And so, the very idea of the Feast of the Holy Family has the potential of conjuring unpleasant, disconcerting, troubling, alienating memories.
This is exacerbated for many of us who don’t fit the heterosexual married normative mindset imposed onto the notion of the Holy Family. Here is a pious description of the family:
Of the family body the father is the head, even as Christ is the Head of the Mystical Body. The mother is the Church, and the children are members…The daily bread is provided by the father and distributed by the mother; from father and mother, children receive their blood and life…You children, look up to your father, he is Christ…And you, wife and mother, you too must see Christ in your partner. As father, it is your duty to live like Christ and to rule your family as He would.
This was written in 1957. But, it doesn’t take long in listening to conservative commentators, both Catholic and Fundamentalist Protestant, to find this thinking alive and well in 2016.
I believe that this thinking is wrong and I recognize in it a perversion of the readings chosen for this Mass of the Holy Family; a perversion in the sense that the readings chosen are made to fit an ideological perspective rather than being allowed to reveal their mystery as guided by the message of Christ. This perversion is not in the presentation of the Holy Family as a model guiding us to a family life marked by love, selflessness and peace – all things to which we can aspire. No. The perversion comes in presenting the Holy Family as a divine institution modeling ‘family’ as being composed of father, mother and child to the exclusion of all others. In this view, no other model has legitimacy since it does not – indeed cannot – replicate the Holy Family. To hold this view is to do an injustice to the message of Christ. This occurs every time biblical passages are chosen to support the status quo, to keep in their place those who don’t fit the norms of the ruling collective.
The English writer on Mysticism, Evelyn Underhill writes about Epiphany in the following words: The Epiphany means the free pouring out of a limitless light – the Light of the World – not its careful communication to those whom we hold worthy to receive it.
The Feast of the Holy Family may speak to us through the words of today’s epistle and gospel readings and through our meditation on Jesus, Mary and Joseph. But it will not as long as it is restricted to being a sentimentalized, moralizing, and heterosexist shaft of light. It needs, rather, be opened to the multiple possibilities of family livesmade possible and enlightened by the Light of the World manifested among us.
 Dom F. Cabrol, O.S.B., The Roman Missal in Latin and English (Tours: A. Mame and Sons, 1921), p. 80.
 Dr. Pius Parsch, The Church’s Year of Grace, Volume 1: Advent to Candlemas (Collegeville, MN.: The Liturgical Press, 1957), p. 289.
 Ibid., p. 290.
 Ibid., p. 294.
 R. P. J. Feder, S.J., Missel Quotidien des Fidèles (Tours : Maison Mame, 1961), p. 105.
 Evelyn Underhill, The School of Charity: Meditations on the Christian Creed (London: Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd., 1934), p. 44.
The Epiphany Revealed!
Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio
Caspar, Balthasar, Melchior. These “three kings of Orient are” found, complete with crowns and camels, in every nativity scene.
Yet if you look closely at the gospel account of the Magi (Mat 2:1-12), you won’t find these names. Actually there is no mention of how many Magi there were or that they were kings riding camel-back.
This is a testimony to something some Bible Christians would like to deny: that all who read a text of Scripture do so in the light of some tradition, through some lens. If it is the right lens, it magnifies the text and allows us to get at its true meaning. If it is the wrong lens, we get a distorted image.
It just so happens that the lens the Catholic tradition uses to read the story flows from Scripture itself–to be precise, it flows from the connection between holy words written hundreds of years apart. But despite the many years and different human authors, the texts were inspired by the same Divine Author, the Holy Spirit. In chapter 60 of Isaiah (Is 60:1-6), it is predicted that at a time of darkness, the glory of the Lord will shine over Jerusalem. The heavenly light will be a beacon to the pagan nations and even to their kings. Here we find mention of camels whose job it will be to bring the wealth of these nations, including frankincense and gold, to the city of the Lord. Psalm 72 agrees that far off kings will bring gifts to the Son of David.
The tradition of the Church has always seen the story of the Magi as a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy and Psalm 72. Hence the crowns and camels.
But hold on. Isaiah 60 mentions only two of the gifts mentioned by Matthew: gold, fit for a king, and frankincense, for the worship of God. So what about the myrrh–where does that come from and what does it mean?
Myrrh, an aromatic resin, was used in preparing the dead for burial. Gold reveals that the babe in the manger is actually a king; frankincense tells us that is he God incarnate; myrrh tells us that he has come to die. That someone would redeem God’s people through suffering and death was foretold by Isaiah a few chapters earlier (Is 53). This was the really hard thing for those living in Jesus’ time to comprehend–that the same person who fulfilled all those prophecies about a glorious new king also fulfilled the prophecies about a suffering servant.
All three gifts of the Magi are necessary to convey the true revelation, the true epiphany of who this child is and what he is destined to do. That’s why for hundred’s of years we’ve sung of three kings, not two or four.
OK, so where did the names of the three come from?
The ancient feast of the Epiphany actually celebrates three events, tied together by the meaning of the word epiphany as “appearance” or “manifestation.” Jesus suddenly appears as who He really is–messiah and God–to the Magi, at Cana when he works his first miracle, and when he is baptized in the Jordan. In the early Church, Epiphany was therefore second only to Easter vigil as the time to celebrate the sacrament of baptism. Blessed water from those baptisms were used to bless the dwellings of the faithful, and it became customary to write over the doorposts of blessed homes “C+B+M” meaning “Christ blesses this house (Christus bendicat mansionem).” Since the three kings were also remembered at the same time, someone decided to give them names, and to use CBM as their initials–Caspar, Balthasar, and Melchior. The names stuck.
But the fact that Matthew gives them no names is telling. They may be kings, but in this story they are merely supporting actors. They follow the true Star, the King of Kings. Only His name is important. Epiphany is not about the Magi–it’s all about Jesus.
This article on the Feast of the Epiphany originally appeared in OSV and is reproduced here by permission of the author.
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