Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Wedding at Cana

Today we hear the beautiful story of Jesus attending a wedding at Cana. Now, when we hear these beautiful scripture stories, we should keep in mind - that every word of scripture - every theme of scripture - has meaning. Jesus coming to earth as a human being speaks of the profound dignity of the human person. Jesus, choosing a wedding feast to display his first sign or miracle, speaks of the great significance of marriage.  

The institution of Marriage pre-dates recorded history, and has been, through time, become a symbol of the mystical union between God and his people. We can see clearly this “union” described in today’s first reading from the Old Testament in the words from the prophet Isaiah. After years of suffering, Israel returns from exile in Babylon – finally coming home to Jerusalem. Israel’s shame is removed. “For the Lord delights in you, and make your land his “spouse.” As a young man marries a virgin, your builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you.”

Who is this Builder? Who is this Bridegroom? God.  It is God who wishes to have a “marriage” relationship with His people Israel – and He will consummate the relationship by filling the people with His own “Divine” Life.   Jesus is the very embodiment of the God of Israel – speaking and acting in the very person of God. He is the wedding of heaven and earth. 

The gospels of Mathew, Mark and Luke are known as the “synoptic gospels”, as they are similar. John’s gospel is different. John was a mystic, and his gospel is full of symbolism, so there is always something much deeper going on than what we find on the surface. 

In our story, Mary is the first to speak. “They have no more wine.” Now weddings in Jesus time would go on for two days. To run out of wine would be a social disaster. Mary asks Jesus to do something very practical, again, this is just on the surface. So we go deeper.

This “running out of wine” is a metaphor for Israel, who is lost in its sin. It is also a metaphor for us; for we are lost in our sin. Today, the dignity of the human person, rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God, seems to be lost. Just look at the attacks upon the human person - abortion, euthanasia, homelessness. Like the feast in Cana, what was festive and full of life - has now become dry and lifeless. Mary shows her great sensitivity to an embarrassing situation. She tells the stewards, “Do whatever He tells you.” 

St. John Paul II said that “Mary's request: “It is an exhortation to trust without hesitation, especially when one does not understand the meaning or benefit of what Christ asks.” This speaks volumes concerning the teachings of our church.Many teachings we don't understand - don't agree with. Still - following our great witnesses of obedience - Jesus and his mother - we believe the Church speaks for Christ - so we listen - we believe.

Mary’s words,Do whatever He tells you",  address what Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel, and all the prophets that came before had addressed, that the “The Divine life has run out.” Mary is now Israel - saying to the Creator, “When will you restore the Divine Life.”?

Jesus hesitates, saying, Woman, how does your concern affect me? Is Jesus being curt, disrespectful? No. He is addressing her with the title of "Eve". 

The term “Woman” is the New Eve, recreated in baptism - in the beauty of radiant grace. She is brought by Christ to her husband, as Eve was to Adam, She is no longer for man the temptress and accomplice in sin. Instead she is given to him as grace and as companion in holiness.

Jesus’ reply to his mother signals a major change in their relationship. His public ministry has begun, and earthly relationships will not determine His actions. Mary will now relate to Him no longer as her son, but as her Messiah, the Son of God, and her Savior. 

Jesus tells the servers to fill the stone jars with water, to the brim. The jars were used for Jewish ritual – they held the water that was used to purify the feet after travel, and the hands before eating – the jars of water represent the ritual and religious life of ancient Israel – the temple, the law, and the prophets. The jars of water were important, and good, but they represent the past, they are not “WINE.” 

Jesus quietly transforms or elevates that “water” into WINE – 360 gallons of wine, the wine of Divine Life. He transforms Jewish ritual into the Sacraments of the Church, reminding us of the bread and wine that will be changed today on the altar, into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Christ changes everything. The worthless water becomes wine, exuberant, abundant, and unsurpassed. Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church, has come: and the hearts of Christians are full of joy at the sight of Him and that joy no one shall take from them. (John 16:22).

The miracle of Cana was Jesus' first manifestation of His glory – it was worked at the request, or we could say, prayer of Mary. No one knows better than Mary - the difficulties - and the needs of married people. At Cana she became our great intercessor. It is Mary who points out to Jesus, our difficulties - and our needs. "Son, your children have no wine"... they have no home, no work, no money, no health, no courage, no hope... 

Through Mary's prayers, Our Lord will let his glory be seen - and his disciples, you and I, will come to believe in Him.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.  Amen

Deacon Brian Murphy

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Solemnity of Mary

The Solemnity of Mary 

“Your name, O Mother of God, is filled with every divine grace and blessing. You carried in your womb Him whom the heavens could not contain. You nourished Him who feeds the whole world. The Lord of the universe willed to have need of you, for you gave Him the flesh which He did not have before. Rejoice, O Mother and Handmaid of God! Rejoice! You have for debtor Him who gives existence to all creatures; we are all debtors to God, but God is debtor to you!

“O most holy Virgin, you have more goodness and charity than all the other saints and you have greater access to the throne of God than they, because you are His Mother. I, then, who am celebrating your glories and praising your immense goodness, beg you to be mindful of me and my miseries” (St. Methodius).

Happy New Year!  Hope it’s a good one.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

St. Stephen's Day

 Psalm 119:169-176
XXII (Tau)

Lord, let my cry come before you:
teach me by your word.
Let my pleading come before you:
save me by your promise.

Let my lips proclaim your praise
because you teach me your statutes.
Let my tongue sing your promise
for your commands are just.

Let your hand be ready to help me,
since I have chosen your precepts.
Lord, I long for your saving help
and your law is my delight.

Give life to my soul that I may praise you.
Let your decrees give me help.
I am lost like a sheep; seek your servant
for I remember your commands. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: — as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.

Image: Chapel - Newark Abbey, Newark NJ

Monday, November 30, 2015

"How Long We Wait" by Thomas Merton


How long we wait, with minds as quiet as time,
Like sentries on a tower.
How long we watch, by night, like the astronomers.

Heaven, when will we hear you sing,
Arising from our grassy hills,
And say: “The dark is done, and Day
Laughs like a Bridegroom in His tent, the lovely sun,
His tent the sun, His tent the smiling sky!”

How long we wait with minds as dim as ponds
While stars swim slowly homeward in the water of our west!
Heaven, when will we hear you sing?

How long we listened to the silence of our vineyards
And heard no bird stir in the rising barley.
The stars go home behind the shaggy trees.
Our minds are as grey as rivers.

O earth, when will you wake in the green wheat,
And all our Trappist cedars sing:
“Bright land, lift up your leafy gates!
You abbey steeple, sing with bells!
For look, our Sun rejoices like  a dancer
On the rim of our hills.”

In the blue west the moon is uttered like the word:


** Photo: Fields, Holy Trinity Monastery - Petersham, Mass. © Brian Murphy

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Red Rose

“I understood that every flower created by Him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would no longer be enameled with lovely hues. And so it is in the world of souls, Our lord's living garden."  

St. Therese, The Little Flower

Friday, September 11, 2015


As I write these words - the morning temperature is 84*F. – and in a few hours, the temperature will be well into the 90’s. September days like these make it hard to believe that the summer season is almost gone. I would like to see the summer stay a bit longer, but God has other plans.
How wonderful are all the earth’s seasons. They bring us to a deeper awareness – an awareness of nature’s wondrous cycle of life and death. If we are open to it, we will notice the cycles of the seasons mirrored in our own lives, in our disappointments, our struggles, and our triumphs. These cycles also mirror the dying and rising of Our Lord.

Soon we will be entering the colorful and transitional season of autumn - the season of cool early mornings, cloudless skies, and nights that fade like a softly sung hymn. This is the season of apple picking, pumpkins, the smell of burning leaves and wood smoke - crows, cardinals, jays, hawks – the Feast of St. Francis, All Saints Day - and scary Halloween.  Author Lee Maynard says “I loved autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it.” I must agree with Mr. Maynard - Autumn is my favorite time of year.

“Autumn is really the best of the seasons; and I'm not sure that old age isn't the best part of life. But of course, like autumn, it doesn't last.”
―C. S. Lewis

This autumn season has special meaning for me - as I will be celebrating two important events. This October I begin my 60th year on God’s good earth. I must admit that, these days before I turn 60, this is a little harder than all those other birthdays. Still, I realize there is a call within this birthday that seems to be of the Spirit – I am invited to look at my life and focus anew. My godson Simon answered the call of Christ. This October he will enter St. Mary’s “Benedictine” Abbey in Newark as a postulant. I pray for Simon as he transitions into the Benedictine life.

The undulating wood slopes down to the rhythm of mountain streams. To me this rhythm is revealing You, the Primordial Word. How remarkable is Your silence.”   From the poem “The Stream” – by Karol Wojtyla, St. Pope John Paul II

I find autumn to be the perfect season to escape into silence - to make a retreat - to find a quiet place to seek God, to hear God, in solitude, in stillness, in the beauty of nature. Blessed Mother Teresa said “In the Silence of the Heart, God speaks.” Many of us find it difficult if not impossible to “get away.” We are all so busy. Still, why not head to your local park. My favorite park is Brookdale. Even here, the wonders of the autumn season fill our eyes with beauty, our hearts with wonder, and our lips with prayers of praise of our God. (Bring your camera – it will cause you to look even deeper into the Divine art of God)

 I hope are inspired to seek God in his Creation - to see Him reflected in all its beauties.

Your friend in Christ,

Deacon Brian

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tens of thousands protest at Planned Parenthood clinics across the country

Hundreds of demonstrations were held outside of Planned Parenthood clinics across the U.S. this weekend with protesters calling on the federal government to stop funding the abortion giant.  

After videos were released last month showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing their fetal tissue donation program in graphic detail, the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League called on a national day of protest.

Eric Scheidler, the group’s executive director, said that “with 240 out of 342 cities reporting” over 58,000 people turned out to protest Aug. 22.

“Great day! Except for Planned Parenthood!” he tweeted that evening.