Tag Archives: Mary

Our Lady of Canada, Pray for us! (Homily – Sunday OT 13 A)

OLCanada_Dubois

Our Lady of Canada, by Marius Dubois, in the Basilique Notre Dame, Montréal.

2 Kgs 4:8-12a, 14-16
Ps 89   R/. Forever I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord.
Rom 6:3-4, 8-11
Mt 10:37-42


I remember a conversation I had with my dad years ago, when I was beginning to discern my call to the Priesthood. At the time I was still dating a young lady, and we were talking about the possibility of Marriage, and I asked my dad how I could love God above all else and still love a wife with my whole heart. He answered that in Marriage a husband loves God above all things by loving God through his wife.

This hits to the core of our Gospel message today, as the Lord challenges us to love Him above all else: Whoever loves father or mother [son or daughter] more than me is not worthy of me (Mt 10:37). Jesus isn’t exaggerating to make a point here; rather He’s simply recalling the 1st Commandment and the great “shema Israel”, Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might (Dt 6:4).

Jesus is warning us against making others the first object of our love and attention. He’s warning us not to be attached to His gifts, but to Him. Our parents, our children, our families, these are all gifts from God. They’re indeed great gifts to be treasured, but not treasured more than the Giver Himself. Instead, like my father explained, we’re called to love God through them by recognising that they are in fact treasured gifts given by God. The love we owe to our families, and anyone else for that matter, must be a love that is first and foremost directed to God. To love our families and friends with gratitude to God means that we understand them to be gifts from Him and opportunities to love Him through loving them.

It all comes down to where our hearts, minds and lives are focussed. It’s about not making people or things into idols, but keeping God first in our lives. It’s a question of what we make the priority in our lives.

It’s a beautiful message for us to receive as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of our country, a country that was founded on this very principle. In 1534, when Jacques Cartier first landed on the Canadian mainland, he planted a Cross on the shore. He did this to claim Canada for the King of France, but also as a symbol of claiming it for Christ. He could have easily placed the King’s flag or some other royal symbol, but instead he chose the Cross, claiming this land in way similar to when we greet a child for Baptism and claim him for Christ by the Sign of the Cross. From the very beginnings of colonialisation, what was to become Canada has been dedicated to Jesus by this great symbol of the Cross.

This was echoed in the 1982 Constitution, which begins by stating, “Canada is founded upon the principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law”. And again in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which lists the freedom of conscience and religion as the first freedom of its citizens.

Sadly, today we seem to have forgotten this root of our nation. Instead of being oriented to God, we’ve changed our focus to the self. God is no longer given the supremacy; love of self is now supreme. And I dare say that we’ve made the modern ideas of individualism and self-determination the idols of our day. This is why abortion, sexual immorality, euthanasia, and recreational drug use are being so strongly promoted today. It’s all about the self, all about making the self the focus of our lives. Well, if Jesus says that loving others more than Him makes us unworthy to be His disciples, how much more will we be unworthy of Him if self-love, self-worship, is supreme?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to examine the priorities and orientations of our life: are we pointing to Him, or to something else? We need to orient ourselves to Christ, individually and societally. We must again recognise that supremacy belongs to God, and to God alone.

That’s why the Catholic Bishops of Canada have decided to re-consecrate our country to Mary, and are doing so this weekend to coincide with Canada’s anniversary. We need to get back to our Catholic roots, and one of the best ways to do that is to turn to Mary. Just as Mary brought Jesus into this world, so too can she bring us back to Him. By staying close to Mary, our Mother, she can help us to receive Jesus in a deeper way and to follow Him more perfectly.

This is the purpose of Marian consecration. By consecrating ourselves to Mary, we consecrate ourselves to Jesus through her. Just as Mary’s life was set-apart for Jesus, so too, by consecration to her, are our lives set-apart for Jesus in imitation of her. It’s a commitment to follow in her footsteps as the perfect disciple of Jesus, who calls us to Do whatever He tells [us] (Jn 2:5).

With this consecration, we also ask for Mary’s intercession and protection for ourselves and for our country: that she who is destined to crush the serpent’s head will also defeat what St. Paul calls the spirit of this world, so that Christ may reign in our hearts and in our country.

May we, then, express love of our country by renewing our love of Jesus through Mary by calling upon her to pray for us and to lead us into the ways of love, that we may truly love God above all things, with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. Like Mary, may it be done to us according to God’s Word (cf. Lk 1:38). Our Lady of Canada, pray for us. Amen.

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Homily — Sunday OT 2 C

Wedding mosaic


Is 62:1-5
Ps 96      R/. Declare the marvellous works of the Lord among all the peoples.
1 Cor 12:4-11
Jn 2:1-11


After a short theological introduction, the Gospel of John recounts the first week of Jesus’ public life. On each day, we encounter a different testimony about Jesus: first, it was John the Baptist (twice), then Andrew, then Philip and Nathanael, and then, three days later, Jesus Himself. The first week begins with anonymity and ends with a Marriage feast on the seventh day. This is no accident! John purposefully structured it this way to say something profound about who Jesus is and what He’s here to do.

And John also filled this Marriage scene with a lot of symbolism. In fact, there is so much symbolism here that it’s impossible for me to cover it all even in a long homily, so I’ll spare you that and focus on just a few key points.

Now, the Marriage feast Jesus is attending isn’t just a setting during in which John tells a story about a miracle. It’s actually the reverse: the Marriage feast is the story! And the miracle serves to point to the nature of this feast.

You see, John begins his Gospel with the Wedding Feast at Cana and ends his Book of Revelation with the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (cf. Rev 19:7). In doing so, he frames the relationship of Christ and His Church in a marital context, and he presents the Kingdom of God as a wedding feast. At Cana, John isn’t merely telling us that Jesus and His mother and disciples attended a banquet. No, he’s using an image that we understand to teach us about God’s plan for humanity: we’re to be united with Him as in a Marriage, and when this union is fulfilled — when Christ returns in glory—, our life with and in God will be like a Marriage feast. This isn’t a new image: we find it in the Song of Songs, the Psalms, and in Isaiah, as we heard in the first reading: …as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder shall marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you (Is 62:5).

Now in the Jewish tradition, a Marriage was celebrated by seven days of feasting. This required a lot of supplies, so you can imagine that when the wine ran out, it would’ve been embarrassing. It meant they hadn’t planned properly or perhaps that they were too poor to supply adequately for their guests. Either way, it would’ve been a moment of shame for the host and the newlyweds: shame when there should be rejoicing.

Well, isn’t this much like our own condition? We, the crown of God’s creation, are insufficient for our own fulfilment. In itself, humanity can’t reach the goal for which God created it: we’re incapable of uniting ourselves to God. Our sinfulness has emptied us dry; our fallen human nature is inadequate to supply for the feast of the Kingdom. This is what Mary brought to Jesus’ attention: they have no wine (Jn 2:3).

Now, water can be seen here as a symbol of human nature: in itself, it’s good and it brings us life, but it’s not enough to satisfy us; it leaves us empty. We see this ever more clearly as society becomes more and more secular. Humanity is finite: we’re mortal, and left to ourselves we have no hope, no joy in this life, only pleasure and distraction.

There’s a wonderful scene in the movie Babette’s Feast where we see this quite clearly. Babette, a Catholic, had put on a banquet of the finest French cuisine for about a dozen people. The guests, who were Protestant Puritans, attended reluctantly but decided they shouldn’t enjoy these ‘pleasures of the flesh’. Having had only wine with the meal, they were relieved to see water served before the last course. Now in this particular scene, we see one of the women eagerly sip from her water only to find, with great displeasure, that it’s flavourless and unsatisfying, so she promptly puts down the water and takes up her glass of wine with a smile.

With Cana, John reminds us that our fallen nature is bland and unsatisfying; we need God in order to be fulfilled, to be joyful, to have ‘flavour’ (cf. Mt 5:13). And this is what Jesus does. In these eleven verses, John manages to summarise the Incarnation: Christ has come to fulfill humanity. The Catechism says,

The sign of water turned into wine … announces the Hour of Jesus’ glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father’s kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ (CCC 1335).

And so, through this passage, John also begins his teaching on the Eucharist. He tells us that Jesus didn’t just give them wine, but that He gave them the best wine, and lots of it! You see, Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10), and John teaches us that it’s through the Eucharist that Jesus gives us this gift of abundant life: unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you (Jn 6:53).

By receiving Holy Communion in a state of grace and by spending time in Adoration, we acknowledge that our wine has run out, and that we need Jesus’ help. Through His grace, the water of our human frailty is changed into the wine of the Kingdom, and our lives are transformed into a sign of God’s glory, so that His love might be revealed in and through us and that others might come to believe in Him. Because, just as the new wine at Cana was shared with all present, so too is the new wine of our life in Christ to be shared with the world. This is our mission; this is how we build the Kingdom of God. May Jesus turn our water into wine so that His glory may be revealed in us. Amen.

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