We are working with our pastor, Fr. Terry Keehan, exploring why people marry and why they stay married. One of the tasks we set for ourselves is to each write a short reflection on the Gospel story of the wedding feast at Cana. This week we are posting Rita’s reflection. Next week we will post Bob’s. We hope that you will find them enlightening and uplifting.
On the third day there was a wedding* in Cana* in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.a 2Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.3When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”4* [And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”b 5His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”c 6* Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,d each holding twenty to thirty gallons. 7Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim.8Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”* So they took it. 9And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom10and 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.”11Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs* in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.
12 After this, he and his mother, [his] brothers, and his disciples went down to Capernaum and stayed there only a few days.*
Beyond the obvious that Jesus worked His first miracle at a wedding this passage is rich in ideas to use to affirm, strengthen and encourage married couples. I think verse 11 speaks in a unique way to marriage, Jesus’ place in the lives of married couples and the mission that couples are given on their wedding day. In verse 11 there are three terms that stand out; sign, revealed glory and believe. Sacrament, by definition, is a visible sign of an inward grace. Sign points us in the direction of something and grace is God’s presence in our lives. Jesus first sign, as John refers to miracles, points us in the direction of God, God’s Kingdom and the Kingdom of heaven. There is grace in His actions that makes it possible for others to accomplish what He commands them to do. This is exactly what the Sacrament of Marriage is for couples who stand before God and the Church on their wedding day. A couple getting married is a sign of revealed glory and an invitation to believe to the community of the Church gathered that day. They embody the love that God has for us. The wonder and beauty of the Sacrament is that it isn’t a one day occurrence, but continues everyday of a couples life as they strive to live the covenant that began on their wedding day. Their very presence at the altar is a sign of their love for each other and a testimony to their belief that two individuals, from different backgrounds, life experiences or desires can stand before all and profess that it is their desire to become one in mind, heart, spirit and affection. It is a sign of great courage. While they have been through marriage preparation, have witnessed marriages of others and likely for some period of time lived in a home where their parents strove to do what they are professing to do on this day, in the end there is no blueprint, no owners manual or insurance policy. What they have is their mutual love for each other that is more than a feeling but a decision of the will to live together and love each other as long as both of them are alive. They may not be neon lights but they are a beacons of hope to all.
As they live out their marriage together they become signs and symbols of revealed glory for all who encounter their love. In no other relationship is there the type of commitment that there is in marriage. Even the relationship between parent and child does not portray what marriage is. Nowhere else is there the glory of what love, trust, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, mercy and a desire for justice shown than when two people are determined to continue a journey toward oneness. In that process they give testimony to the love that God has not only for the Church but for all humankind.
Just as the disciples began to believe when they saw Jesus work this sign, so too, others begin to believe that love and hope are possible as they observe this couple, who may be their children, siblings, cousins or friends, stand up and freely promise to love whether there are good times or not so good ones, whether they have money or not and whether they have illnesses or are healthy. But the real testimony of faith and inviting others to believe and have hope comes from the years in which they live this out for all to see.
Marriage is a wonderful journey with an awesome spouse that enable them to be seen as God’s sign, God’s presence, revealed to them in all the glory that no fairy tale writer could put on paper. On that journey the two learn that more is possible than they could have conceived or believed and that becomes the knowledge of God’s power, majesty and grace in their lives.
Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:
Bob & Rita’s book: Forever and Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us. Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time. Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.