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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Live in Nirvana, Live Chastely

by Susan Fox 

In 1994, Dr. Mary Pipher published a book, Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. The book is viewed as a call to arms for the feminist movement to remove the violence and sexism that is affecting young women in the United States. But sadly to me the book was simply a candid and pitiful picture of a society that has totally abandoned the virtue of chastity. And so their daughters’ lives are in ruins. 
Pipher bases the book on case studies from her work as a therapist. Perhaps one of the saddest examples is a young 15-year-old girl, Cayenne, who contracted herpes. When Dr. Pipher met her, Cayenne asked about a recurring dream, in which an old man with a goat walks into her bedroom carrying a sharp knife and begins to cut her in pieces and feed her to the goat. The therapist never tells Cayenne or the reader of the book what she thinks the dream means. But Cayenne said the dream means she was afraid of being cut up and eaten alive. What kind of family would allow such fear into their daughters’ lives? 
Cayenne regretted the loss of her once good relationship with her parents, but rightfully — in my opinion — she blamed them for not keeping her safe. I agree with Cayenne on this point 100 percent. Out of a desire to be loved and accepted, Cayenne gave up her virginity to a boy she hardly knew at a what could only be described as a “sex” party when she was 14. The sex occurred in the first hour of the party. Asked what she felt about the boy now, she said, ”I wish it had been more romantic.” She also told the therapist that a movie in which a teenage girl has graphic sex with  a guy she barely knows “tells it like it is.” Her parents told her nothing of chastity. They simple told her to wait and have sex when she was in love. Pretty limp advice. My task was to restore Cayenne’s confidence in life, and try to teach her that living chastely could be a means of accomplishing that goal. Asked what she thought was her greatest virtue, Cayenne responded, “courage.”  

Cayenne, can I share a story with you?

“Gramma! Gramma!” Little Tommy ran after Rene. The tiny boy is completely devoted to Rene and Rene loves to care part time for her beloved grandson. Rene’s adult children are well adjusted, successful socially and deeply faithful Catholics. 

Renee is happy, committed to her family and her Catholic faith. Her husband of 34 years finds her beautiful and feminine. It’s an amazing secret of lifelong faithful marriages — the husband still thinks his older wife is the loveliest creature on earth — even when her tight abs have sagged, and other stuff has turned to cellulite. However, Rene didn’t always have this happiness.
Rene grew up in a very strict Protestant household, and suddenly had the freedom to discover herself when she went to college. There she decided to try tarot cards and atheism, a deadly mix. She chucked her family’s moral values. She met a young poet and fell in love. They were on the college tract and unlikely to marry, but basically who cares when you are in love right? They slid into an affair.

The guy she dated definitely was romantic in a narcissistic way. Unfortunately, he didn’t see her value as a person nor did he seek her good above his own. In fact, he wrote a poem about Rene and compared having “sex” with her to “pissing” in a famous lake in the United States. Rene had very close family ties back home, and she soon realised that her dream man did not really care for her. He was using her. She had a nervous breakdown, and ended up in a mental hospital. Sexuality used as a casual toy can be very dangerous.

No one had explained the purpose of sex to Rene, nor how devastating a casual affair can be. Sexual relations can be a source of joy in your life, but outside of a committed lifelong marriage, they can be awful. 
My husband told our son that it’s basically Pandora’s Box — if you open it too soon you can become enslaved to behaviours and personal trauma that will haunt you the rest of your life. Your health may suffer too. Cayenne, if you wait until you find a real man willing to change diapers, who wants your good over his own, then marital relations are the frosting on a happy cake.

But human beings have a long way to go before they are able to successfully integrate sexuality within their personhood, and therefore enjoy inner unity in their bodily and spiritual being. They have to learn self-mastery. (CCC 2337) Call this state Nirvana if you want, but it’s basically the practice of the virtue of chastity. Sexuality becomes truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one man and one woman in
complete and lifelong mutual gift open to new life. That’s what Rene has now.

Waiting is hard though, and men uninterested in marriage may refuse to date a girl unwilling to “fork it over.” This can feel like rejection. I didn’t marry until I was 30, and usually my dating life consisted of one date only. He never called again because I didn’t sleep around. I’m grateful now for these small rejections, but at the time I thought I wasn’t attractive. Being a chaste single requires courage, a virtue you have recognised in yourself.

Sexuality is called the generative power of man because it allows two people to make

new human beings and bond with their spouse for life. Our first parents discovered this, “And Adam knew Eve his wife: who conceived and brought forth Cain, saying: I have gotten a man through God.” (Gen 4:1) Human sexuality is the sweet glue in a lifelong marriage surrounded by a garden — full of the fruit of new little lives. This is the family.

Sex is the language of the body. It says “I give myself to you totally and completely now. I have already committed my life to you. And

with this act I renew that sacramental lifelong bond,” according to author Mary Beth Bonacci. A committed unmarried relationship says “I promise not to date anyone else until I dump you (or you dump me.)” Bonacci adds, “I have never seen an unmarried relationship improve as a result of sexual activity.” No, because people can use their body to lie. With your body in the sexual act, you say, “I give myself to you completely.” But in your mind you think, “If it works out.” That is not romantic at all, is it?

Everything has a purpose. Everything used against its purpose is an act of injustice. What is the purpose of the eye? It is to see. But say I have a delicious brownie and I stick it in my eye to taste it. Ouch. Can I taste a brownie with my eye? No, put it in your mouth. Yum. Sticking a brownie in my eye to taste it is an unjust act. It is using the eye for something other than its intended purpose.

So what is the purpose of human sexuality? It creates new life in the safe and stable environment of the family in which the spouses are committed to sharing the whole of their lives with one another, and no other. Sex used outside of its purpose is an unjust act. People will always be hurt in unjust situations.

Some people think the purpose of sex is pleasure. Pleasure can be part of this activity, but if pleasure is the only criteria for sex, then women can be kept against their will in harems, sold into sexual slavery and prostitution. Homosexual sex feels good too, but doesn’t make people happy. It was just reported that 52 percent of youth self-identifying by their homosexuality in the

United Kingdom have tried to harm themselves, according to a survey conducted by Metro, a pro-homosexual advocacy group. So the sole purpose of sex is definitely not pleasure.

“Sex speaks one language and one language alone. And that language is ‘You and I, now and forever, sacramentally united, ready for whatever happens.’ It means marriage and marriage alone. Out of that context, sex can mess up a relationship badly,” Bonacci wrote.

Rene regretted the fact that her parents didn’t tell her this. She learned it when she became Catholic. From a mental hospital, she applied to graduate school at a prestigious school on the East Coast, and was accepted. She chose to study languages. In her Latin class, she read that God made her in His image and likeness. God is love. Casual sex has nothing to do with real love. Rene lived chastely after her conversion to Catholicism, and then met her lifelong lover, her husband Robert. They consummated their relationship after they were married.

Lost innocence can be restored. During that time of waiting to meet the one, she practiced self-mastery, which is a long and exacting work. Like me, she had to realise that you only need to date one man, your future husband, and that requires a good self-image, the one that God gave us in the beginning.

The very essence of love is ruined when pleasure becomes its sole purpose. Love involves reciprocity — each spouse loves the other as a person, not an object of self-gratification. Each wants the good for the other. 

Men are different than women. When they enter a romantic relationship their physical sensuality dominates. Men are sight oriented. They can fall into the trap of wanting a woman because of how she physically makes him feel, not seeing her value as a person.

But a women gets pleasure from the man’s attention — even if it lasts one hour (the time it took for your first sexual encounter). In high school, my friend Julie decided to have relations with a man. The rest of us girls were virgins so we were curious, “What happened?” Trying to make it sound like more than it was, she said that what she enjoyed was the “closeness.” She didn’t feel any pleasure. The guy used her, gave her a sexually transmitted disease, and she went on to un-joyful closeness with other men.

Years later I asked her if she ever married. She was married, she said, but only for one year. The rest of her 63 years were spent as a single woman raising dogs. She has no children. She has no lifelong emotional “closeness” with a man. Pre-marital sex essentially ruined her life.

Emotional unchastity is often the weakness of women. Without a good self image we can use sex to get a man’s attention for the purpose of making us feel good. It’s a form of pleasure, but also a form of insecurity. “If I don’t go to bed with him, he’ll dump me.” Unfortunately, women feel pressured into sex because of a lack of good self image.

I used to be a very insecure person. But when I met my future husband, I was given a great gift. I felt deep peace. I was not anxious as I had been in previous dating situations. “Does he love me? Will he marry me? What do I have to do to win him?” None of those sort of questions entered my mind. I had a total
Larry Fox, my husband, with our
son, James, the fruit of 
happy chastity
willingness to wait and see how this relationship would develop chastely. We waited during a one-year courtship and now we’ve been married for 33 years. My hope is that all young women will aspire to this kind of lifelong loving relationship. Wait for the right man. Don’t take second best. 

Susan Fox is working on a master's degree in Marriage and Family at the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria. 

Interested in studying at the International Theological Institute? You can apply here.
Each student at ITI is only charged 6,000 Euros a year in tuition, but the actual cost of the education is 20,000 Euros.
Donate here

Or contact: Dipl. Ing. Alexander Pachta-Reyhofen, Director of Development (Europe), International Theological Institute, Email: a.pachtareyhofen@iti.ac.at


Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, Promulgated Pope John Paul II, (Liberia Editrice Vaticana, 2000)  The Vocation to Chastity, 2337-2350 

Bonacci, Mary Beth. Real Love, Answers Your Questions On Dating, Marriage And The Real Meaning of Sex. (Ignatius Press, 2012,) 76-85.

Wojtyla, Karol. Love and Responsibility, trans. Grzegorz Ignatik, (Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 2013) 140-141.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Rules for Happiness

The Beatitudes

Sermon by Fr. Joseph Mungai
Fourth Sunday of the Year, Jan 29, 2017 
St. Mary of the Pines, Shreveport, Louisiana
Father is visiting the U.S. from Kenya

"Happiness is that which everybody seeks." So says the great philosopher Aristotle.

Aristotle also observes that everything people do twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, is what they believe will bring them happiness in one form or another. But the problem is that what people think will bring them happiness does not in fact always bring them true and lasting happiness.

Think of the drunkard who believes that happiness is found in the beer bottle. He runs a red light, hits a car and wakes up in a hospital with plaster and stitches all over his body. Then it dawns on him that the happiness promised by alcohol may be too short-lived. 
Or take the man who frequents the casino for excitement. By the end of the month, he finds he can no longer pay his house rent.  Then it dawns on him that the happiness promised by the casino is fake. So Aristotle says that the ethical person is the person who knows and does what can truly bring them true and lasting happiness.

Another word for true and lasting happiness is “blessedness” or “beatitude.” In today’s gospel, Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount shows that He really wants his followers to have true and lasting happiness, the happiness that the world cannot give. This state of blessedness is what Jesus calls living in the “kingdom of God.” 

The eight beatitudes we have in today’s gospel  (Mt 5:1-12) constitute a road map for anyone who seeks to attain this happiness of the kingdom.

Everybody seeks happiness. But often we look for it in the wrong places. Ask people around you what makes people happy and compare the answers you get with the answers Jesus gives. The world has its own roadmap to happiness. It's not the way that God thinks. 

Where Jesus says, 
“Blessed are the poor in spirit;” the world says, “Blessed are the rich.” Where Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn;” others say “Blessed are those having fun.” Where Jesus says “Blessed are the meek;” the world says, “Blessed are the smart.” Where Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness;” people  say “Blessed are those who wine and dine.”

Where Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful;” others say “Blessed are the powerful.” Where Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart;” we like to think, “Blessed are the slim in body.” Where Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers;” the world says, “Blessed are the news makers.” And where Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake;” society says, “Blessed are those who can afford the best lawyers.”

We see that the values prescribed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount are in fact counter-cultural. We cannot accept these teachings of Jesus and at the same time accept all the values of our society. Of course, Jesus does not demand that we abandon the world. But he does ask that we put God first in our lives. Only God can guarantee what our hearts long for -- true peace and happiness. Nothing the world gives provides this, and once God has given it to you, nothing in the world can take it away.

The Eight Beatitudes do not describe eight different people such that we need to ask which of the eight suits us personally. No, they are eight different snapshots taken from different angles of the same godly person. The question for us today, therefore, is this: Do we live our lives following the values of the world as a way of attaining happiness or do we live by the teachings of Jesus? If you live by the teachings of Jesus, then rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.

On the Epistle, (1 Cor 1:26-31) God Delights to Work with Nothing. 

The reading tells us that God knows how to write straight with crooked pens; that God, in fact, prefers to write with crooked pens.

"Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are,  so that no one might boast in the presence of God." (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Paul begins this section by inviting the Christians of Corinth to consider their call.  It is God who takes the initiative and calls us to His service. We sometimes find ourselves considering whether we should remain in the church or not. We feel that it is up to us to decide to follow Jesus or not. But Jesus tells us that the initiative to follow Him comes not from us but from God himself.

“You did not choose me but I chose you.” (John 15:16)  “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me.” (John 6:44). It is a calling given by God. 

What standards does God use to choose men and women to belong to Him and do His work? Now, this is exactly where God’s ways part from our ways. Normally we would expect God to pick people who are wise, powerful, and of a good reputation in the eyes of the world. But Paul tells us that God actually chooses people who are the exact opposite. Why does God prefer to work with the nobodies of this world? There are two reasons for this: one is  for the best of the one called, and the other is for the best of those among whom they work.

We can  do the work of God only with the strength that comes from God. Therefore, the first requirement of a servant of God is that he or she learn how to depend on God. For this reason God sometimes allows His servants to carry the burden of their human weakness, so that they will learn that unless they stand in God, they cannot stand at all. St. Paul had a “thorn in the flesh,” which he asked God to remove.  God did not remove it. God simply said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” And Paul concluded, “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, … for whenever I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10).

The second reason why God allows human weakness in His servants is so that the people among whom they work will realise that the good accomplished by His ministers come from the grace of God, not their own ingenuity.  If they understand this, people will not be tempted to idolize their ministers. The Christians of Corinth had already fallen into this temptation when they began labelling themselves according to their favourite missionaries: “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas.” God wants us to see beyond the ministers who bring us the word of God and to keep our eyes on Jesus, who is Lord and Saviour of us all.

The Lord calls all Christians, and especially those men and women who minister to God’s word to us in any capacity, to a life of holiness. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A People Who Walked in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light!

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jan 22, 2017
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

Today begins the ministry of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It takes place immediately after the arrest of John the Baptist. (Matthew 4:12-17)  Our Lord Jesus appears on the scene
with His first sermon which was both brief and bold: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

My brothers and sisters, as we reflect on these words of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us allow them to ring loudly in our hearts. These are the first words Jesus spoke in his public ministry. They are the most important words for every Christian to follow.

Ever since humanity fell through original
sin, God has been calling us to repent, turn away from sin,and follow His commandments. The reality is that sin has brought darkness into our world. We hear of these effects in the reading from Isaiah 8:23-9:3 today, where the Israelites are experiencing a turbulent period in the 8th Century B.C. 

About 100 years previously, Assyria had invaded the northern kingdom of Israel. Some were carried into exile while others were subjected to great oppression.The Assyrians ravaged the whole place. They were so
wicked that they even destroyed trees, turning the land in to a desert. 

The people had rebelled agains the laws of God. That was the reason for Israel's utter devastation. But, God does not forsake His promises. He has come to fulfil His promise through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Light of the World.  
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils. For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian." (Isaiah 9:1-3)

Our Lord Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah. He is coming again to establish the fullness of His kingdom on earth. Yet, until our Lord comes again, we must turn our lives over to God and seek repentance because
our world will go through more difficult times because of sin.

What is most important is the salvation of our souls.  For, our society will pass away. Our nation will pass away.  But our souls live forever. Therefore, we need to take seriously Our Lord’s call to repentance! 

My brothers and sisters, we are living in sinful times. Darkness has enveloped not only our country, but darkness has enveloped the entire world! Many people are living in darkness and are in danger of losing eternal life. 

This year we celebrate the 100thAnniversary of our Blessed Mother’s message at Fatima. She warned us about these times. Yet, our Blessed Mother has also promised us that in the end Her Immaculate Heart will
triumph! For, Our Lord Jesus is coming again! When He comes, there will be no more war,  violence, hatred, or selfishness. There will be no more immorality, no pornography, no child murder, no divorce or anything that is not of God. For, the Light of Christ will overcome the darkness of the world. 

Therefore, let us not take Our Lord's call for
Fr. John Paul Shea at his ordination
repentance for granted. Repent,
 turn away from sin! For, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. May Our Lord bless each one of us and help us.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Who Is The Beloved Disciple and the Mother of Jesus in the Gospel of John?

Composing the Gospel
using the Theology of Anonymity

by Lawrence Fox 

Why does the author of John's Gospel not identify the name of the mother of Jesus nor the name of the beloved disciple? 

John painted himself
in his Gospel anonymously
He uses  various expressions: “beloved disciple,” “Jesus’ mother,” “woman,” “mother of Jesus,” and “the disciple whom Jesus loved” with no names associated. The reader of John’s Gospel would have to consult the Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, Luke) in order to associate Mary with the mother of Jesus and the name of John with the beloved disciple. So what gives?  

“Who is my mother, brothers, sisters...those who do the will of my Father.” (Mt, 12:48, Mk. 3:35) By using the term "beloved disciple" for himself, John allows all Christian disciples to self-identify with John himself. But he is also showing us his sources in a very oblique and beautiful way.   

The authors of Sacred Scripture have their own peculiar ways of connecting events within their text and identifying their own unique sources, witnesses, and inspiration. Matthew — the tax collector — hones in on two events in the life of Jesus which have to do with money. The other sacred authors do not. 

Mark identifies his source, Simon of Cyrene, as a non-apostolic witness to the crucifixion. “A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.” (Mk 15:21) Connect this identification to Romans 16:13, where Paul greets Rufus, and you realise the Crucifixion of Jesus converted Simon’s family.

Modern Movie Director M. Night Shyamalan routinely put himself in bit parts in his own movies.  Movie Director Peter Jackson shows up in a cameo appearance at the beginning
Movie Director M.Night Shyamalan
played bit parts in his own movies 
of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug  bitting on a carrot.  Many famous painters have obscurely placed themselves or others in a picture.  A new trend is to redo classic paintings replacing the main character with a modern person or superhero.

John is doing the same thing with his gospel.   John is identifying his sources for his contemplative Gospel, but not by name. Instead he uses the terms "beloved disciple" or "mother of Jesus." There are only two people that can fit those descriptions, the author himself and the mother of Jesus, Mary. Those are two key witnesses to his own gospel. John is saying, “I was there. I saw it. I also knew his mother.”   

Jesus said, “Who is my mother, brothers, sisters...those who do the will of my Father...” (Mt, 12:48, Mk. 3:35) John purposely framed the Gospel narrative so that each baptized Christian could insert their own name in the expressions “beloved disciple” and “mother of Jesus” while meditating upon the words of the Gospel. Every Christian by grace is a beloved disciple of Jesus Christ and a child of Mary. And by grace, each Christian is a mother of Christ while nurturing the Word of God in their heart and mind. 

This approach preserves both a literal and spiritual sense to the reading and interpretation of Sacred Scripture. John wanted the reader of the gospel to participate literally in the experiences of himself and Mary, Mother of Jesus. He wanted the Mystical Body of Christ (the Church) to be identified as both disciple and mother. “But the Jerusalem above is free, who is our mother...” (Gal. 4:26) That means the Gospel of John -- inspired by the Holy Spirit -- provides a tremendous vehicle for spiritual meditation and discipleship. Let us look at some examples.

The wedding feast of Cana is a contemplative narrative for those who take the time to watch and listen to it unfold. In it, the evangelist uses the expressions, “Jesus’ mother was there,” and “Woman,” and “His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’” (Jn. 2:1,3,5) The name of Mary is not mentioned which would have been most reasonable. John
The Mother of Jesus
then goes on to say,
“After this He (Jesus) went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and disciples.” Earlier John identifies some of these disciples including: Andrew, Philip, Simon, and Nathaniel. If others disciples were present, John choses not to tell. If the beloved disciple was not present, then the mother of Jesus is a logical source for the story. This does not exclude the memory of the other apostles. 

In the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the authors have no difficulty associating the name Mary with the mother of Jesus. The references are exhaustive and not necessary to identify here. This absence of the name of the beloved disciple and the mother of Jesus is one of those features which makes the Gospel of John unique from the Synoptics. Since this pattern of not identifying the mother of Jesus or the beloved disciple continues throughout the whole Gospel (even to the last paragraph), it is logical to conclude that the same author (John the apostle and evangelist) is responsible for the whole narrative. In addition, the evangelist adds the word “hour” to the Cana narrative, which links the wedding feast with several other key events in the Gospel of John.  

“Woman why does this matter involve you and me, my hour has not yet come.” (Jn. 2:4)  That is Jesus’s response to His mother’s statement,  “They have no wine.” This use of the word, “hour,” combined with not naming John and Mary, connects three events in the life of Jesus of Nazareth: The wedding feast of Cana, the Last Supper, and the Crucifixion and death of Jesus. 

The changing of water into wine -- thanks to His mother’s request -- is the first of Jesus’ miraculous signs, “...and his disciples put their faith in him.” (Jn. 2:11) But the miracle moves Jesus closer to an “hour” coming on Holy Thursday. The Evangelist alludes to this “hour” several times in the Gospel. Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well, “The hour is coming and is already here when man will worship God in spirit and truth.” (Jn. 4:23) Other references to this “hour” are found in John 7:30 and John 12:27. The “hour” arrives at the Last Supper, “It was just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave the world and go to the Father.” (Jn. 13:1) The “hour” in which men would worship God in Spirit and Truth begins with the Last Supper. 

When Jesus tells his disciples that one of them will betray Him, there is a commotion. The text reads,  “One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’” (Jn 13:25) Again John is not mentioned by name. 

At this juncture, I want to point out that  what takes place at the wedding feast at Cana -- changing the substance of water into the substance of wine -- precedes a greater miracle at  the Last Supper.  Jesus — through the spoken word — identifies bread and wine as something substantially different. It is now “My Body and Blood.” The synoptic authors also capture that significance, “This is my body...this is my blood.” 

But John captures that significance in  Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse which took place in Capernaum, “My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink...” (Jn. 6:55) Similarly, John connects the wedding feast of Cana with the Last Supper and the crucifixion using the word “hour” and by emphasising the mother of Jesus and the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross without naming them. 

“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that hour on, this disciple took her into his home.” (Jn. 19:25-28) The beloved disciple and the mother of Jesus are not named and John identifies this “hour” -- the death of Jesus on the Cross -- as the hour in which he (John) became the son of the woman who gave flesh to the Eternal Word of God. 
What is interesting about the expression “hour” is that Jesus identifies it as the time and manner in which He will glorify the Father. How does a disciple glorify the Father? Well by obeying the words of Jesus Christ, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.” (Mt. 17:5, Lk. 9:35, Mk. 9:7) In other words, the beloved disciple glorified the Father by obeying the words of Christ, “Behold your mother.” 

People — especially those who have adopted the “me and Jesus alone spiritually” — wonder where Catholic and Orthodox Christians get the gumption to trust the Mother of Jesus as part of their journey with Jesus Christ. Place yourself at the foot of the cross with the beloved disciple! Listen with your heart to the words of Jesus, and act as John acted. Take Mary into your home! That would help the bewildered Christian to understand Catholic and Orthodox devotion to Mary. 

Since the word of God is something living and alive and Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, a disciple should be able to hear Jesus say again in their own spiritual journey, “Behold you mother.” I understood this point more clearly when a friend told me something privately happened to him at Catholic Mass while he was pondering his relationship to Mary. 

Just before receiving communion, he heard the words of the eucharistic minister, “The body of Christ.” The communicant then says, “Amen.” Afterwards, my friend heard  the words, “Behold your mother.” He didn’t understand the message until one day he read the Gospel of John 19:25-28. He grasped interiorly that he was a “beloved disciple” literally beholding the body of Christ and then Jesus spoke from the cross in the midst of his one eternal sacrifice to the Father, “Behold your mother.”

 I mentioned earlier that the authors of Sacred Scripture use various and unique  methods of connecting events, and identifying sources and witnesses to text. Closing out the Gospel of John is the statement, “This is the disciple who testifies to these things...” What disciple? John the Beloved Disciple, whom we are discussing, is the author of the Gospel of John. The fact that John took Mary into his home  from that hour forward explains to a great degree the  formation of John’s Gospel.  
Why is that? Christian Biblical Scholar Origen (185 -  254 AD) answers the question: “No one can grasp the meaning of the Gospel (of John) unless he has placed his head at the breast of Jesus and unless he has received from Him Mary, who becomes his mother also." (Origen, Commentary on John, 1:6)  

Mary was so receptive to the Word of God that through the power of the Holy Spirit she conceived the spoken Word in her heart and in her Womb. Christians through Faith and Baptism receive the indwelling of the Word of God. Mary in perfect humility conceived the Word of God by grace. 

Christians ponder the Word of God; Mary nurtured and fed Him. St. Paul writes that every gift of God is given for the building up of the whole body of Christ, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Cor. 12:7)  The Spirit which overshadowed Mary and the fruit of her womb continues to build up the whole body of Christ.

Luke receives the infancy narratives from Mary. Luke twice in the infancy narratives identifies “Mary, as treasuring these things and pondering them in her heart.” (Lk. 2:33, 2:51) This observation has been made by numerous commentators on the Gospels. 

Matthew’s infancy narrative is written -- so it seems -- from the perspective of Joseph the adoptive father of Jesus. It relates Joseph’s dreams, journeys to Egypt and Bethlehem, his decision not to divorce Mary publicly  and that fact that he is a just man. Again this perspective could have been provided by Mary, the Mother of Jesus to Matthew. The affectionate manner in which Mary speaks about Joseph to her Son at the temple is noticeable, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” (Lk. 2: 48)  Joseph is dead before Matthew begins to write.  

Mathew’s grasp of the person of Joseph is quite interesting. He identifies Joseph not only as a “just man” but as a man of purposeful dreams that allow him to care for the safety of Mary and Jesus. Joseph takes Jesus and Mary safely down into Egypt, safely out again, and for 30+ years provides for both of them while Jesus is “growing in wisdom and grace before God and men” in Nazareth. 

Another Joseph, the son of Jacob in the Old Testament,  is a young man of dreams who is sold into slavery and taken down into Egypt. This Joseph by the grace of God is able to provide for his extended family who come down into Egypt searching for provisions due to a drought. When the Israelites leave Egypt centuries later, they take the bones of Joseph with them. The life of the  New Testament Joseph is a recapitulation of the life of the Old Testament Joseph.

In essence, Matthew sees that Joseph — by providing for Jesus and Mary — parallels Joseph’s care for the family of Israel in the Old Testament. “My son whom I have called out of Egypt.” While Jacob, the father of Joseph in the Old Testament,  adopts Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim,  Joseph, the husband of Mary, adopts Israel, aka Jacob, in the Person of Christ, who is literally a son of Jacob.      

Recall the Patriarch Jacob’s outrage at one of his son’s dreams:  “When he (Joseph) told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you
had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.” (Gen. 37:10)  Such remembering on Jacob’s part sheds light on Luke’s statement in the gospel, “Mary, as treasuring these things and pondering them in her heart.”  Living centuries apart, Jacob and Mary give us insight into Joseph, Jesus’ adoptive father. But what does this have to do with the expression by the beloved disciple, “from this hour, taking Mary into his home.”

John opens his Gospel with the revelation, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...” The theological depth of John’s writing illuminates more powerfully the Synoptic Gospels; dispelling any confusion about the divinity of Jesus Christ, true God and true man. John’s Gospel is a scandal to the materialist, to adherents of Gnosticism, Arianism, Judaism, Islamism, and forms of Unitarianism, which all share a confusion about Christ’s human and divine nature. 

From where does John get such insight into the Mystery of Jesus Christ?  Origen says there are two ways to become a beloved disciple. Contemplate the heart of Jesus  — inflamed with divine love.   And take Mary as your mother into your home. 

Mary was so filled with the Word of God that she shared it with the authors of the written Word. Mary helped John to see the mystery of Christ as no other human person could. She is the unnamed source and inspiration within John’s Gospel. She is a named source within Matthew and Luke.  

The mystery of the most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was presented to Mary at the Annunciation. Mary — like no other prophet in the Old Testament — fulfilled the meaning of the words, “The word of the Lord came to the prophet...”  She shared this prophetic gift and inspiration with the son given to her from the Cross, John. 

Bring her home! Today, praying as a beloved disciple all can become children of Mary.  Her gift -- knowledge and love of Christ —  is therefore shared with the entire mystical body of Christ.