Wednesday, February 11 ~ Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Our Lady of Lourdes ~ World Day of the Sick
Holy Gospel: John 2:1-11 On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with His disciples. When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast.” So they took it. When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
Meditation: This particular miracle signifies the new rich wine of the Gospel and it points to the “wine of the new covenant” and the “bread of life” which Jesus provides for his disciples in the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist. It also points to the Messianic banquet which Jesus will provide at the end of time. The miracles of Jesus demonstrate the power of God’s love and mercy for his people. God’s kindness knows no limits. And the ultimate expression of his love is revealed in the person of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He became flesh for our sake, and he died for our redemption, and he rose for our glorification.
Prayer: Grant us, O merciful God, protection in our weakness, that we, who keep the Memorial of the Immaculate Mother of God, may with the help of her intercession, rise up from our iniquities. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes: O ever-Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, health of the sick, refuge of sinners, comforter of the afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings; look with mercy on me. By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary, whence you dispense your favors; and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with complete confidence to implore your maternal intercession.
Obtain, O loving Mother, the grant of my requests. Through gratitude for your favors, I will endeavor to imitate your virtues, that I may one day share your glory. Amen.
Contemplation: God reveals his glory in the unlikeliest of places — in a stable at Bethlehem, at a wedding feast in Cana, in a muddy Jordan river, and on a bloody cross on Golgatha. Jesus’ first public miracle (his first sign) was performed at the insistence of his mother. Jesus blessed a young couple and brought joy to their wedding party. First by his presence, and second by saving them from embarrassment when the wine ran out. Changing water into wine was a remarkable act of kindness; but giving the best to last was unnecessary and unheard of. In the Old Testament wine was often seen as a gift and symbol of God’s blessing (ref. Deuteronomy 7:13; Proverbs 3:10, Psalm 105). That Jesus would miraculously produce 120 gallons of the best wine (many times more than needed) shows the superabundance of the blessings which he came to offer. These blessings also pour forth through the Blessed Virgin Mary. Today marks the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1858 to fourteen-year-old Marie Bernade (St. Bernadette) Soubirous. Between February 11 and July 16, 1858, the Blessed Virgin appeared eighteen times, and showed herself to St. Bernadette in the hollow of the rock at Lourdes. On March 25 she said to the little shepherdess who was only fourteen years of age: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Since then Lourdes has become a place of pilgrimage and many cures, healings and conversions have taken place. The message of Lourdes is simple – one of personal conversion, prayer, and charity. With Lent on the horizon – less than one week away – how might you engage in personal conversion, prayer and charity, or seek healing?
About Our Lady of Lourdes: The many miracles which have been performed through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin at Lourdes prompted the Church to institute a special commemorative feast, the “Apparition of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.” The Office gives the historical background. Four years after the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (1854), the Blessed Virgin appeared a number of times to a very poor and holy girl named Bernadette. The actual spot was in a grotto on the bank of the Gave River near Lourdes. The Immaculate Conception had a youthful appearance and was clothed in a pure white gown and mantle, with an azure blue girdle. A golden rose adorned each of her bare feet. On her first apparition, February 11, 1858, the Blessed Virgin bade the girl make the sign of the Cross piously and say the rosary with her. Bernadette saw her take the rosary that was hanging from her arms into her hands. This was repeated in subsequent apparitions. With childlike simplicity Bernadette once sprinkled holy water on the vision, fearing that it was a deception of the evil spirit; but the Blessed Virgin smiled pleasantly, and her face became even more lovely. The third time Mary appeared she invited the girl to come to the grotto daily for two weeks. Now she frequently spoke to Bernadette. On one occasion she ordered her to tell the ecclesiastical authorities to build a church on the spot and to organize processions. Bernadette also was told to drink and wash at the spring still hidden under the sand. Finally on the feast of the Annunciation, the beautiful Lady announced her name, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” The report of cures occurring at the grotto spread quickly and the more it spread, the greater the number of Christians who visited the hallowed place. The publicity given these miraculous events on the one hand and the seeming sincerity and innocence of the girl on the other made it necessary for the bishop of Tarbes to institute a judicial inquiry. Four years later he declared the apparitions to be supernatural and permitted the public veneration of the Immaculate Conception in the grotto. Soon a chapel was erected, and since that time countless pilgrims come every year to Lourdes to fulfill promises or to beg graces.