Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on the changing ways in which we look at suffering when it is done with Christ.  What does this have to do with wine, weddings and listening to your mother, or does it?  Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time to find out. Please read John 2:1-11. For Audio, “Read More” below.  #GreatCatholicPreaching #Catholic #BenU1887

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For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 1/20/2013The 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time.

 Please pause this audio and read John 2:1-11

          My sister had a child who was born with heart problems. He was a sweet little boy. His name was Greg. Greg delighted all of us, but it was apparent that he was sick when you looked at him. He always looked pale and was thin.

          After numerous doctor visits and various treatments, Greg was given a good bill of health. The next day, while playing on the swing-set, his heart failed and he died. Why would the Lord our God take a child from a woman as good as my sister? Why would he just tease her for eighteen months and then rip her heart out when the love for that child which was growing and growing had come to full bloom?

          This angry way is certainly one way, and one very natural way, that we could look at my sister’s loss. If we did not have Christ in our lives and understand that all things work for the good for those who love the Lord, we could be exceedingly bitter. We could even let our “loss” make us angry and ugly to the world. We could put up this defense in an attempt to never be hurt again. We could lash out at anyone or anything that came along to relieve our hurt.

          An angry response to our suffering could satisfy the thirst we have for a reason why this happened, but would it have a fullness to its taste? What if we understood that the Lord our God knew Greg before he was born? What if he knew that there would be this tragedy and needed someone who would love him for who he was, sick and failing in health? What if he allowed us to suffer so that we would have compassion on those who have sick children?

If that were the case, then we would know that Greg needed someone who would love him through his suffering. Greg would need to have someone like my sister who would be given the responsibility of loving him when he needed to be loved. Suffering here, in the context of faith, then is not a burden, but an opportunity. It is an opportunity to make something plain and ordinary into something good and positive. A child, with limited time on earth, is given to a mother who would give him the love he needs.

          In the case of suffering, we would know that our thirst for understanding would be satisfied, not with plain tasting water, but with the full bouquet of the finest wine. Who is it that turned this water into wine? It was Christ, of course.

          All of life can be lived without Christ. The happy times will seem sweet because we would think we made it on our own. But the suffering of life would be bitter indeed without an understanding that suffering is part of life, and Christ came to see us through it. We know that Christ suffered to pioneer our salvation, but why?

          He suffered because our lives can be filled with episodes of suffering. He came in human form to know our suffering and to walk with us in our suffering. When he does, the thirst we have to understand suffering can be quenched by the suffering waters turned to wine by Christ.

          Jesus is the fullness of God, pleased to dwell with us and be one of us. It is he who brings all things to completion and all things to a full understanding. For example, he is the fulfillment of the scriptures and they would be water to quench our thirst without him, but the taste would be flat. Let’s hear the words of the prophet Isaiah,

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm and carry them in his bosom and shall gently lead those that are with young.

          This passage comes to its fullest completion with the words of Jesus,

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Before Jesus we would know that God would shepherd his people, but after Jesus, we know that the shepherd of God who leads us into his bosom is the God-man who would lead us through his life, death and resurrection.

          So, when Christ comes to the wedding at Cana of Galilee, he will do his first of the signs meant to bring us to trust him. The first of his signs says, “All things are new because I have come.” John says, “the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us.” That Word makes all things new, even water into wine. Even when we everyone else thinks the jars are dry and the situation is either embarrassing or hopeless, Jesus turns water into wine.

          We in America have been seduced, I think, by commercials and other philosophies in life that tell us if anything is hard, or if we suffer, there is no use in it. It can be perplexing and hard to live in a world that doesn’t understand that suffering can help shape us and make us better.   The pioneer of our salvation suffers with us so that we can be changed. Sometimes it takes suffering and painful episodes in our lives for Christ to change water into wine and death into life. We only know about how suffering changes us for the good because the pioneer of our salvation suffered first and changed the outcome of suffering, just like he changed the outcome of filling jars with water.

          What is it in your life with which you struggle today? Maybe, your suffering was meant for you to give something of yourself and be transformed. Or, maybe your suffering was meant to give somebody else something that they needed at the right time. Or, maybe your suffering was meant to change you into someone better than you presently are. Can you see that you are not alone in your suffering, but are being changed by Christ as he suffers with you?

          We all know the story A Christmas Carol by Chalres Dickens. We all talk of how Scrooge was a dreadful man. But do we ever remember that it is after his night of suffering that he is changed into a man who is generous and kind? Suffering with Christ does not lead us to defeat, but snatches victory from the jaws of defeat. In the same way that Scrooge was changed, and the water was changed, you too can be changed by giving your life more fully to Jesus Christ.

          What is your suffering? May your thirst for an answer be quenched by the wine, the precious blood of wine, Christ. Amen.

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