Yesterday was the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Gospel is the wedding feast of Cana, the first miracle credited to Jesus. The first reading from page 62 contains a message of hope for God's people in the Old Testament, at a time when they were at a low ebb. Jerusalem had been destroyed. Israel, once the bride of God, was now like a widow, without her children. However God had not forgotten her. There will be a new wedding feast and God and his people will be like newlyweds again.
This promise was fulfilled in the return from exile in Babylon, but more especially in the coming of Jesus.
This brings us to the Gospel. The Bible uses the image of a bridegroom (God) and his bride (the chosen Jewish people) to describe the relationship between God and his people. It uses the image of a wedding, where the prophets had foretold an abundance of wine in messianic days.
We see Jesus responding to the wishes of his mother, who being the concerned mother, noticed that the wine was in danger of running out at the feast. John depicts Mary as involved at the beginning of Jesus' ministry and again at the end of it when she is present at the foot of the cross. Mary is associated with the whole of his ministry. Her role must always be seen in relation to that of her son. Jesus responded generously to Mary's request as any good son would. Those six jars were capable of holding somewhere between twenty to thirty gallons each, and the wine was top notch. Jesus was not cheap. No 'plonk' came from him.
We see not only the power of Jesus, but also his generosity and the warmth of his heart. Jesus began his ministry by showing compassion. What Jesus did was repeated more and more throughout his ministry. For the poor widow of Nain he changed tears into joy. For the taxman, Zaccheus, he changed selfishness into love. For the thief on Calvary he changed despair into hope, and on Easter morning he changed death into life.
The people Jesus met were often changed beyond recognition. We see Peter, Andrew. James and John, his first Apostles changed beyond recognition, from being ignorant fishermen to become leaders, and later some of them had to learn through their failings and betrayal of Jesus the lesson of repentance. Those of us who profess to be disciples of Jesus have constantly to learn that we also are sinners, who need to repent in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Jesus in the Eucharist offers us a share in his divine life. The Eucharist is the bread and wine, which become the Body and Blood of Christ. The abundance of the wine at Cana is also symbolic of the 'New Wine', the Eucharist which we share at each Mass. It is good for us to reflect on this great event at Cana, where we get glimpses of the saving ministry of Jesus, and also about the essential role of Our Lady, the Mother of God in our quest for salvation.
Diocese of Killaloe
The most westerly monastic location of pre-diocesan Killaloe was the great island foundation of Iniscathaidh (Scattery Island) off modern Kilrush. Founded by the sixth century abbot, St. Senan, the monastery achieved great influence under a series under a series of powerful abbots, its influence extending into counties Limerick and Kerry. It was briefly a diocese during the mid-twelfth century. Bishop Caggiano, Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn has the title of Titular Bishop of Iniscathaidh.
Of far less importance than Iniscarthaidh was 'Cell Da Lua, or Killaloe, which was the favored monastery of the powerful Dal gCais kings of Munster, early sponsors of Church reform. Dal gCais influence is the principle reason why Killaloe became the locus of the diocese formed at the Synod of Rathbreasail, and why two of its long dead abbots, the seventh century Molua and his successor and disciple, Flannan, became the diocesan patron saints. Brian Boru was of course a Dal gCais king.
Iniscaltra (Holy Island) the second of the two great island monasteries of pre-diocesan Killaloe has associations with St. Colum MacCremthainn, St. MacCreiche and St. Caimin. Inis Caltra was excavated a generation ago by Liam DePaor and Co. and it is well worth visiting. A cellurach (grave yard for unbaptized children) was excavated also on Holy Island. I heard locals complaining it was never restored to its original state, but left uncovered!!! Tuaim Greine (Tuamgraney) founded by St. Cronan is worthy of note. Accorded parish status in the thirteenth century, its church, now in Church of Ireland ownership is believed to be the longest in continual use in Ireland. Other monastic sites in the area of East Clare are Dromcliffe, Dysert O'Dea, Kilnaboy, Rath Blathmaic and Tulla, all of which later became medieval parishes.
East of the Shannon, the once fabled monastery of Terryglass (Tir-da-Glas), on the shores of Lough Derg. was founded by the sixth century St. Colum MacCremthainn. Suffering greatly during Viking incursions, its influence was not seriously shaken until it fell under Dal gCais sway in the twelfth century. A destructive fire in 1164 destroyed the monastery buildings beyond repair, the termons or monastery lands being converted into a medieval parish. North of Terryglass. Lorrha was founded by the seventh century St. Ruadhan, so close to that of St. Brendan, it is said, that the latter became confused by the combined peal of both monasteries' bells, and departed for Clonfert, where he built the monastery for which he is most celebrated.
No founder's name is associated with the great monastery of Monaincha( Church of the Island of Loch Cre), although St Cainneach of Aghaboe, and Cronan of Ros Cre are believed to have spent time here. The present remains at Monaincha date from the twelfth century Augustinian foundation.
Roscrea, founded by St. Cronan in the mid-seventh century, served for many centuries as a monastery, was briefly a diocese, later a deanery and finally a medieval parish. Its round tower still survives. The porch of the twelfth century St. Cronan's church on the site is believed to date to its diocesan era. Two other noteworthy monasteries east of the Shannon are St. Brendan's monastery at Birr and that of St. Finan at Cinn Eitig (Kinnnity). Cluain Fearta Molua (Clonfertmulloe) in Laois is the only site apart from Killaloe which has associations with Saint Molua, and this may explain its inclusion in the diocese by the early reformers. We must also mention St. Odrans monastery at Latteragh, and St. Donan's of Toomevara (Templedowney).
Killaloe is an interesting diocese as it extends over five counties: Clare, Tipperary,Offaly , Laois, and Limerick. Its monastic past helps a little to explain how the diocesan boundaries were drawn in the middle ages.