February 9, 2020
(5th Sunday Ordinary Time, A; with a special celebration of our Church Patroness – Our Lady of Lourdes)
Jesus, His disciples and Mary, His mother were at a 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 servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Jn_2:1-11
St. Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth, “Brothers and sisters, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” 1_Cor_10:31-11:1
There is something very, very blessed, we might even say supernatural about our faith in Jesus.
Did you happen to notice in John’s telling of the Cana Wedding Feast story, how the headwaiter did not give the credit for the good wine to Jesus, but to the bridegroom instead? You see, Jesus never grasped for His own Fame, just for our hearts. And, even though, like the headwaiter, we may not always know the source of life’s blessings, we should, still and always, give the Glory to God, just as John did in his telling of this story.
And then, did you also happen to notice how Mary never actually told Jesus to turn the water into wine? But she did tell the servants to DO – whatever Jesus told them . . . the same way that she always points us – back to her Son.
And Jesus didn’t just satisfy His mom’s and the guest’s needs with a couple more cases of wine. He had flooded them with an overflowing torrent of 150 – Spirit-filled – gallons of it.
Water to Wine,
Ordinary to Extraordinary,
Natural to Supernatural,
Need to Abundance,
We are, indeed, very blessed in our faith!
Now, I’m not sure where you all were, or what you were doing in 1958, but as a grubby little 5-year-old, on the streets of North Jersey, I really had no idea that something so incredibly significant to my later life – would be happening, some thousand-miles away, in a little cornfield in Central Missouri.
And yet, that event would not only prove to be monumentally important to me, but to every one of us here, whether or not we were even born yet, in 1958. And it would even impact, those who have long left this mortal flesh, and yet, are still present here, with us – in Spirit.
You see, there’s a thread that ties every human, every physical aspect of our stories together, and actually our entire human existence. And that thread is called WATER.
And there’s another thread that ties every divine, every spiritual aspect of our stories together, and He’s called GOD.
And it’s only TO God, as St. Paul tells the Corinthians, that we can give the Glory for it all . . .
– The Glory for Mary, our Mother;
– The Glory for Jesus, our Savior;
– The Glory for ALL of God’s messengers in our lives;
– and the Glory for our world, with its challenges, and its pitfalls, with its joys, and its life,
and its WATER.
Water, it truly is the thread that binds!
But now, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, so let’s take a little journey back to what led us to 1958, both in the Water and in the Spirit.
We might say that it all began in the very first two verses of the Book of Genesis; in the Waters of Creation, where God tells us that “a mighty wind swept over the waters“ Gn_1:2. And that simple statement, might even clue us in to the “BIG Picture.”
So we don’t really have to go back . . .
– to Noah’s flood,
– to Moses crossing the Red Sea,
– to God’s water from a rock,
– to Joshua crossing of the Jordan River,
– to Ezekiel’s River of Life,
– to John’s baptism,
– to Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well,
– to the Blood and Water that flowed from the side of our crucified Lord . .
in order for us to see how this thread of Water ties us, not only through the Watery womb of our mothers, but through our own baptisms, TO our Union together, in Body and Spirit, with one another and with God.
And yet, as time came and went, through the peace and the wars, through the politics and the technology, through the births and the deaths, just like the Israelites, we would often forget our ties, and we would forget our Lord, and we would turn inward in the darkness of our desert solitude, away from the very Source of our lives; save for some occasional, but rare sparks of light, offered by people like Augustine, and Francis, and Teresa of Calcutta.
And in our blindness, and in our solitude, God would also speak to us through the lips of the poor and the little children.
You see, it wasn’t until 1854 that our great Church leaders would finally acknowledge, in an official, ex cathedra, infallible, proclamation, by Pope Pius the 9th, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
If you never heard or read the statement of an infallible dogma, I think you’ll enjoy hearing this little piece from the Pope’s document “Ineffabilis Deus,” Ineffable God. He wrote,
‘We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which asserts that the Blessed Virgin Mary, was preserved free from every stain of original sin, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, IS a doctrine revealed by God and, for this reason, must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful.’
THE Immaculate Conception!
You see, in the 1800’s world, without radio, or television, or internet, and especially in the poverty stricken outskirts of rural, southern France, a little, 14-year old girl would NOT have had a clue as to the goings-on of the Pope, at the Vatican, in Italy, 4-years earlier.
And it was there, on a frigid, February morning of 1858, outside of a muddy cave called the Grotto of Massabielle, about a mile from the town of Lourdes, France, it was there, that the young Bernadette Soubirous would encounter, in the gust of the Holy Spirit’s wind, a beautiful Lady with a message of God’s love.
Bernadette was, at first, so unsure of the vision, that in a later encounter, of which she had 18 in total, she brought along some Holy Water to sprinkle on the lovely Lady in order to confirm that she was from God and not from the devil. And we are told that the gesture brought a smile and a chuckle to the Lady’s countenance!
In WORD, the Lady requested prayer and penance for sinners.
In Word, the Lady requested a Chapel to be built, and a Procession to be held. (Both of which can still be seen today.)
In Word the Lady would NOT promise happiness – in a world of pride, and greed, and solitude, but, rather, ONLY in a world of charity, and justice, and love.
In Word, the Lady, when pleaded by Bernadette for her name, would finally reveal herself, as: THE Immaculate Conception; a title, totally unknown to young Bernadette, but to our Church leaders, who just 4-years earlier, formally declared the Blessed Virgin Mary with that very same name, it was the first of many unequivocal proofs of the authenticity of Bernadette’s encounter.
WE had HEARD her Word!
And, in FORM, the world would be witness to Bernadette’s ecstasy, in the presence of our Blessed Mother.
In Form, the world would be witness to Bernadette’s humility, just as they were of our Savior, Jesus.
And in Form, then and there, and in all the years to follow, the world would be witness to – a healing spring of WATER, dug by the very hands of Bernadette, at the request of the Holy Mother of Jesus; Our Mother, who always points us to her Son.
It truly was a crowning moment in the history of the Church, as the apparition was approved, ‘authentic,’ just 4-years later, and young Bernadette was canonized as Saint Bernadette in 1933.
You see, there again was that essential thread of Water, tying all of humanity to each other and to that unconditional and healing Love of God.
In the years to follow, Pope John Paul II would officially designate February 11 as “The World Day of the Sick” in remembrance of that healing spring of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Of course, it is by no coincidence that the street upon which our Church is built is called Bernadette Drive. For it was in 1958, in the fifth year of my life, and just two years after the establishment of the Diocese of Jefferson City, and in the year of the 100th Anniversary of the Lourdes apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Bernadette, that our original Church, now Flanagan Hall, constructed in a rural cornfield, was dedicated by Bishop Marling as Our Lady of Lourdes Church of Columbia, Missouri.
And even today, those life-giving waters still flow beneath us: cleansing our souls, refreshing our bodies, baptizing newcomers into our Faith and building our Church, just as Jesus asked of us!
It was then, 41-years later, in 1999, that our Church grew to the point of doubling in the size of our community and in the size of our Church building. All for the Glory of God our Father, all for the Love of Jesus our Savior, and ALL, with the ever-loving guidance of Mary, our Blessed Mother, who points us to DO whatever He tells us.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
that we may be made worthy of
the promises of Christ.
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