Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Sunday, January 20, 2013
In celebrating the Epiphany, the Church meditates on three events: the visit of the Magi, the Lord's baptism by St John the Baptist, and the marriage at Caana. So it's appropriate for yesterday's Gospel to be about the third of these. (In the Novus Ordo lectionary, even if though today is listed as a Sunday in ordinary time, rather than a Sunday in theEpiphany season.)
While the wedding feast at Caana shows the practical charity of Mary and Our Lord, this is not the main point. St John includes it in his gospel because it manifested [Jesus'] glory and His disciples believed in Him (John 2:11). And it does this in three ways.
First, St John (who was actually present) quotes the Master of Ceremonies. While other people used the best wine first, and brought out the cheaper wine when the guests were inebriated and less critical, the MC says in surprise But you have kept the good wine until now. For St John, this indicated a deeper truth. After the Mosaic dispensation, Christ has now come and provides the good wine.
Second, when Mary points out the lack of wine, the Lord says, My hour has not yet come. For St John, this was a reference to the passion on Calvary, and the water and wine at the wedding feast pre-figure the water and blood that come from the Lord's pierced side.
Again, John was an eye-witness at the Crucifixion and later mentions the water and blood coming from the Saviour's side (John 19:34). He continued to meditate on this, noting in one of his letters (1 John 5:6) that Jesus Christ [came] not by water only but with the water and the blood.
Third, the humble wedding feast prefigures Heaven, which is characterised as the marriage of Christ and His Church.
This is touched on in the other Gospels, which quote Our Lord's statement that He is the Bridegroom and the parable about the wedding feast. But it is St John who - in the Book of Revelation/the Apocalypse - describes how the marriage is celebrated at the end of time, after all this world's tribulations have passed (Rev 19:7-9).
As the angel said to St John, Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The point is adverted to in the Novus Ordo, when the priest proclaims, This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper.
And, as wine is meant to bring joy (Ps 104:15), let's ask Our Lady to pray that we may be admitted to the feast. Cause of our Joy, pray for us.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Monday, November 5, 2012
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Friday, June 22, 2012
The Australian Government thinks that it's good if schools have chaplains. So it’s been contracting with various organisations, funding them to provide chaplains.
(In Australia, Government schools are the legal responsibility of the State Governments. As they also think that school chaplains are a good idea, this doesn’t create a problem.)
But Mr Ron Williams wanted his children to have a secular education. He asked the High Court to stop the Australian Government from funding the chaplains at his children’s school. And, on Wednesday last, the Court did so.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
The background is that, after having been subjugated by the King of Elam for twelve years, five small kingdoms declared their independence, including the city state of Sodom.
The King of Elam prepared his revenge. Two years later, he and his three allies defeated the rebellious five kings. As Genesis 14:9 says, a war of four kings against five.
In the course of the war, the King of Elam captured Abraham’s nephew, Lot, who lived in Sodom. Perhaps he was going to sell Lot as a slave, perhaps he was going to hold him hostage.
But Abraham conferred with three other tribal chiefs and they went in pursuit. They had a small force but were triumphant (a familiar theme both in Scripture and in modern Israel!) He freed Lot and recaptured the people and booty taken by the Elamites.
Then Abraham is approached by the mysterious Melchizedek, King of Salem. The King offers a sacrifice of bread and wine to God, and blesses Abraham. Recognising the King as a priest of God and a precursor of the Messiah, Abraham gives him an offering, a tenth of his possessions.
Melchizedek was king of the city called Salem, now called Jerusalem. Reflecting on the Hebrew meanings of these words, Hebrews 7:2 tells us that says, the name 'Melchizedek' means 'king of righteousness'; then also, 'king of Salem' means 'king of peace.” And, as a ruler of peace, Melchizedek did not participate in the conflict between the nine kings.
For those interested in numerical patterns, he can be regarded as the tenth king, as the king who received a tenth of Abraham's possessions, and as a person reminding us of the ten commandments of God.
After his encounter with Melchizedek, Abraham is approached by another king. The king of Sodom asks Abraham to return the people taken from Sodom and suggests that Abraham keep the spoils taken from the city.
But Abraham refuses. He will not accept anything for himself (though he will accept spoils for his allies). In fact, he had taken a solemn vow that he would accept absolutely nothing.
Did Abraham realise the iniquity of Sodom? Is this why he refused to accept the king’s offer? Perhaps the passage is meant to contrast how we should venerate the King of Righteousness and have no part in the King of Unrighteousness?
If Abraham realised Sodom's iniquity, we can see an extra edge in his later bargaining with God on the city's behalf (Genesis 18). Perhaps he realizes the sinful nature of the city but still seeks God’s mercy for it. And, realising its iniquity, he seeks to expand God’s mercy proportionately.
(Until he comes to the requirement that there be ten just men. Numerically, this may remind us of the commandments and to stipulate the minimum compliance that a society needs to survive.)
Another point. We’d have expected that the king and people of Sodom people would be deeply grateful to Abraham, particularly those who had been taken as captives. So reflect on the viciousness of the people of Sodom when they later attack Lot, although they knew that he was the closest kinsman of their benefactor, Abraham (Genesis 19:9).
(By the way, I've referred to Abraham, but at this stage he was still called Abram. Later God gave him a new name to his part in Salvation History: see Genesis 17:5.)