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Fr. Bob Writes – January 20, 2019

Our gospel today tells the story of Jesus’ first miracle on earth.  Interestingly enough, it is not a dramatic story of a miraculous healing, or exorcism, or raising from the dead.  But it is fairly prosaic: Jesus intervening at the intercession of his mother, to save a bridegroom’s family from embarrassment, by turning 25 gallons of water into wine. 

However, there are some basic lessons to be gleaned from this reading.  Mary’s intercessory prayer for the groom’ s family was essential as is our intercession for one another.  Jesus is waiting to be invited to make a difference in our lives …. prayer is the key.  When Jesus works in our lives he brings greater blessings than we would otherwise have known.  Marriage and all other aspects of life are improved by turning to Jesus.

Beyond this, there are other aspects to be explored for those familiar with the Old Testament scriptures.  The miraculous provision of a tremendous quantity of wine, fulfills the prophecy of Amos 9:13, that when the Messiah, the long-awaited Savior of Jewish hopes and longings, appears, “the mountains will flow with new wine”.  The miracle is therefore a sign of who Jesus is; it is the first of seven such “signs” that Jesus will perform in the gospel of John, leading to the greatest sign and proof of his divine identity, his resurrection from the dead.  Therefore, the little chronological note that John provides at the beginning of this passage, that the event occurred “on the third day” (i.e resurrection day) is full of significance.

That the miracle takes place at a wedding points to the relationship between God and his people, so often described as a marriage covenant relationship in the Old Testament (as in our first reading from the prophet Isaiah), as is the relationship between Christ and his Church, cf Ephesians 5. The return of Christ at the end of time for his bride is described in terms of a wedding banquet invitation, so this miracle points to an end-time fulfilment, when God will pour out on his people, the fullest of blessings, and joy will reign supreme.  

Come Lord Jesus!!

Fr Bob Writes – January 13, 2019 – Baptism of the Lord

This Sunday we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord Jesus.  I always love doing baptisms, because it gives me the opportunity to speak about all the graces and blessings that are released into a person’s life when they are baptized.  Sadly, many people these days choose to delay having their child baptized, until they are of an age to make the choice for themselves.  But consider this: does any parent wait until a child is of an age to decide for themself, before giving him or her food, clothing, shelter, education.  NO, they realise that these are good thing that every child needs, and they make the decision to give these things to their child straightaway, without waiting to have a debate with them about it.  It should be the same for having a child baptized.  Once you are aware what blessings being baptized brings, it should be a no-brainer to have the child baptized.

So let us remind ourselves with the help of our second reading this weekend, from Paul’s letter to Titus, what graces are released into our lives through baptism:

(a) Rebirth and renewal – we are reborn as a child of God and given a new, holy, nature, that of Jesus. 

(b) The Spirit is poured out in us richly – the Holy Spirit makes us children of God, makes us sharers in the divine nature of God, releases gifts of grace in our life

(c) We are justified by his grace – in other words, we are cleansed from the stain of original sin, inherited by our first parents, Adam and Eve, and all sins we have incurred before our baptism are also forgiven. Plus we are given a new grace not to sin in the future

(d) We become heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ, and our inheritance is life forever with God in heaven

(e) We have the hope of eternal life- no earthly creature or power could ever give us this, only God

These are only some of the graces and blessings provided by our baptism.  Doesn’t it make sense that we should cherish our baptism, be so grateful to those who had us baptized, and seek to grow in the life of our baptism, and have our children baptised as well?

Fr. Bob Writes – Epiphany Sunday, January 6, 2019

This weekend we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany. a word which means “Appearing” or “Manifestation”. We often talk about having an “epiphany” moment, when something suddenly becomes clear to us as never before. The feast of the Epiphany, or “Manifestation” of Jesus to the visiting pagan Magi (a term which means astrologers) also “manifests” a truth, hitherto kept secret by God: “that is, the Gentiles (pagans) have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel” (from the second reading for this weekend) . Not only is it just the Jewish people who are part of God’s plan of salvation. That plan also now includes we who were “pagan” before our baptism into Jesus.

There are many practical ways in which the Feast of the Epiphany makes its point. It teaches us that in Christ there is no room for religious elitism. It may sound like a time-worn truth , but it still bears repeating: in God’s eyes all are equal. And we are not free to build roadblocks of any type. In the early church, this meant not only common worship attended by all but a common table as well. We do well to ask if we are carrying within ourselves any prejudices, conscious or otherwise, against certain types of people. This is not a textbook issue. It passes quickly from theory to practice. If we are to avoid further volatile civil situations, explosions of violence, or increased polarization, then Christians have to live according to the mind and heart of God, as “manifested” by Jesus, in his birth, life, death and resurrection. Jesus came to take away the sins of the world, not of just a certain segment of it. 

Today’s epistle from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians says that we are all co-heirs, co-members, and co-partners. We are called to a classless society in a Christian sense. Each Epiphany reminds us that we still have a way to go.