THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

The Second Sunday after Epiphany

15 January 2017

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Dear Friend,

Today, we recount the first of Jesus' public miracles here on earth. He changed water into wine at the request of His Blessed Mother. This first miracle is most appropriate at a wedding feast, because marriage is the beginning or foundation of all societies. There is, however, an even more profound reason that this first miracle of changing water into wine should be His first public miracle. This changing of substance from water into wine prefigures the Sacrifice of the Mass which He instituted at the end of His human life here on earth. In the Sacrifice of the Mass, wine and water are transubstantiated into His Body and Blood. We, therefore, see very clearly that Jesus is preparing us for His continual Sacrifice in the Mass from the very beginning.

There are other references and indications pointing to the Sacrifice of the Mass in prophecies and even in the very history of the Old Testament. We also see transubstantiation taking place in the Old Testament, when God used Moses to turn the waters into blood. These miracles take place in a moment and therefore capture our attention. There are, however, many miracles that take place over time, and because of their frequency we have lost all wonder and amazement for them. St. John Chrysostom suggests that God continually transforms water into wine through the instrumentality of grapes. This is considered natural and normal simply because we see it so often and it takes place gradually. However it is, nonetheless, a miracle. Only God can give rain to the vine and produce the grape and cause the grape to ferment and make wine. There are, certainly, human agents in this process, but men do not make these transformations.

Only God can make the vine, the grape, and the wine. With this example at hand, we can begin to look around and see that this world and this life are filled with the perpetual workings of God. We are witnesses to constant miracles all around us, yet we seldom see or understand them for what they are. The joy of St. Francis can only be understood by those who can see as St. Francis did that this world is overflowing with the gifts of God.

Science shows us that all systems and all things seem to follow a law of entropy (constant and gradual decline into disorder). The material world is ever heading towards the nothingness from which it came. We are reminded of this on Ash Wednesday when ashes are put on our heads with the words: "Remember man that thou are dust, and unto dust thou shall return." Still, the world continues forward. There remains order, and progress toward a more orderly goal. This clearly demonstrates the workings of God. It is a miracle with each and every day. The order of the seasons is maintained by the power of God.

Not only the seasons, and the progress of time, but the variation of species and the propagation of each kind of being speak loudly, to those who are attuned to hear it, of the miracles of God for our benefit. Everywhere we turn at every minute of the day there are miracles taking place right in front of us. If we could only appreciate and understand this, we would soon become like St. Francis and find simple and unfeigned joy in everything — even the tiniest of God's gifts. God's blessings are all around us. He is constantly revealing Himself to us, yet we too often fail to see, understand, or truly appreciate these things. God is the creator of everything and everything is good. This entire physical world and everything that is in it has been made for our use and enjoyment by the most loving God.

The greatest of His miracles takes place upon our altars, where God does more than give us nice things or showers us with wondrous miracles. Upon the altar of God, He gives us Himself. It is truly His life in us that keeps us from succumbing to that dreadful "law" of entropy. If we could understand what is truly happening for us, everything else begins to pale in significance. The miraculous beauty and order in a simple rose bud is wondrous and amazing to contemplate and try to fathom; but it is nothing compared to the transubstantiation that takes place upon the altar where bread and wine become Jesus Christ — the living God. The wonders never cease, for He desires that He should become our food; that we should feed our souls upon His Body. He desires to enter into our bodies — not to become one with us; but rather, that we may become One with Him. This union with Him is a mystical marriage of the creature with the Creator.

May the beauty related in the Gospel for today, begin for us a closer appreciation for spiritual marriage with Jesus Christ; as well as for the countless miracles and gifts that our Divine Bridegroom constantly offers to us as tokens and reminders of His love for us. Especially, let us, increase our love for Him in the Holy Eucharist, where He gives us the greatest gift of all; Himself — Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity — True God and True Man.

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