Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Our Lady of Lourdes
by an unknown Artist 

Additional Information about Our Lady of Lourdes[1]

Readings for the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes

Readings and Commentary:


 Isaiah 66:10-14c

Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her,
all you who love her;
Exult, exult with her,
all you who were mourning over her!
Oh, that you may suck fully
of the milk of her comfort,
That you may nurse with delight
at her abundant breasts!
For thus says the LORD:
Lo, I will spread prosperity over her like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like
an overflowing torrent.
As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms,
and fondled in her lap;
As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.

When you see this, your heart shall rejoice,
and your bodies flourish like the grass;
The LORD'S power shall be known to his servants.

Commentary on
Is 66:10-14c

Isaiah speaks metaphorically to those returning from exile. They hear of the creation (birth without pain) of God’s children in a New Jerusalem. He uses the image of a mother nursing her child as an image of God's loving care for the people he has called home.  His oracle relates to a time of prosperity that comes about due to God’s love for those he has created. It is a calling home, a call to return to that place that gave them birth.

CCC: Is 66:13 239, 370
Judith 13:18bcde, 19

R. (15:9) You are the highest honor of our race.

Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God,
above all the women on earth;
and blessed be the LORD God,
the creator of heaven and earth.

R. You are the highest honor of our race.

Your deed of hope will never be forgotten
by those who tell of the might of God.
R. You are the highest honor of our race.
Commentary on Jdt 13:18bcde, 19

This short hymn in praise of Judith (who at the time of its writing represented the faithful people) is predictive of the blessed role Mary will play in human salvation. In the story immediately preceding these verses Judith offers to sacrifice herself for salvation of the people and is here found praiseworthy for her willingness to do so.

John 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
"They have no wine."
And Jesus said to her,
"Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come."
His mother said to the servants,
"Do whatever he tells you."
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told them,
"Fill the jars with water."
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
"Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter."
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
(although they who had drawn the water knew),
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
"Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now."
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.

Commentary on
Jn 2:1-11

St. John gives us the story of Jesus' first revelatory action following his Baptism by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan. He and his disciples are invited to a wedding and the wine runs out. Jesus’ mother lets her son know that the time has come for his revelation, even though Jesus does not think so.

Ironically the stone water jars were there for the ceremonial cleansing, the very Hebrew custom John the Baptist used in his call to repentance. The Hebrew custom was symbolic (as was St. John's invitation to be baptized in the Jordan). The Lord would later make Baptism efficacious as sins were forgiven. We also note the Hebrew Numerology applied to this scene. The number 6 represents one less than the perfect number 7. It was not yet Jesus' time. The water became wine, not his blood which was yet to be poured out for the salvation of mankind.

The final statement in this story, “…his disciples began to believe in him,” is the only time in the Gospel of St. John where there was any doubt about the Lord’s true identity on their part.

CCC: Jn 2:1-12 2618; Jn 2:1-11 1613; Jn 2:1 495; Jn 2:11 486, 1335

Forgive me today as I engage in what can only be called speculative theology. Since these are the words of a servant of the Church I must clarify here that I speak only of my own thoughts and wonderment, not of the official teaching of the Church on the subject of Mary.

When I consider the appearance of the Virgin Mother at Lourdes and all of the miraculous signs that have occurred at the shrine erected there commemorating her appearance, I cannot help but think of the coincidence that in sacred scripture, the Holy Spirit was most often referred to in the feminine gender. Christ left the Holy Spirit as our guide and our strength. Since his departure, returning to the Heavenly Kingdom, the miraculous appearance of St. Mary has been the most common apparition of divine intervention.

I personally am forced to conclude that when the Lord wishes to remind us of his presence in a dramatic and often miraculous way, he sends the Holy Spirit personified in the image of his own mother to bring us hope and guidance. Clearly her spectacular appearance at Lourdes has served God’s will.

I caution myself here not to attribute deification to the young virgin who stoically accepted God’s will that she should be the vessel of our salvation. She is the Mother of God who, at Cana, precipitated the revelation of Jesus’ nature as the Son of God with authority over all the Father’s creation. These facts alone are motives for the praise and adulation we have for her.

Yet we cannot help but wonder if, in his great love for the Mother of the Church, he did not use her maternal image to help a world falling into despair to regain its hope in a loving Father in whom all things are possible.


[1] The picture of Our Lady of Lourdes is by and unknown Artist 
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

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