Sunday, January 17, 2016

Marriage

Second Sunday of OT year C 2016:
Today we hear about the Wedding at Cana.  St. John tells us that this was one of the first signs that Jesus performed.  People began to believe in him because of what he did there at the wedding.  And, what did Jesus do?  We know that he made the water into wine.  But, there is much more going on in the story.
As is often the case with St. John’s gospel, you can see deep and profound theological truths in this story.  This story clearly intends to tell us something about the life of Jesus, but we also learn a great deal more.
First of all, this first sign takes place at a wedding.  I don’t think this is random.  The first sign of Jesus takes place at a wedding because it is the married couple that is the first building block of our human society.  At the heart of the Christian family is the committed married couple.  But, I don’t have to tell you that there is a great deal of controversy about marriage in our society today.  There are endless debates about marriage: what is marriage?  Who can get married?  There are endless questions about divorce and remarriage, homosexual unions, and more.  So many people in our society think that marriage is something that can be defined by anyone.  “Marriage is what you make of it.”  But, that’s not what we believe.  As Catholics we believe and profess that marriage is an institution written into the very fabric of the human being.  We believe that marriage is a loving commitment between persons that is open to new life.  This is not something that we invented.  Rather, God invented marriage.
But, marriage is difficult.  You might ask how I know that since I’m not married, but I talk to many married couples about their difficulties and struggles all the time.  Marriage is hard because marriage entails two people giving of themselves for the good of their spouse.  Marriage is about sacrifice and giving, not about taking and self-fulfillment.  But, as human beings, we have never been good at sacrifice, service, and humbly following God.  If we were good at that, we would still be in the garden.
This is why Christ came to us.  He came to be our savior.  He came to show us the way to salvation.  He showed us that the way to salvation lies in the cross.  When he gave himself up to death, he granted to the human race the power to overcome sinfulness and selfishness.  And there is no place that needs that gift more than in marriage.  We cannot overcome sinfulness and selfishness on our own.  And there is nothing more damaging to marriage than selfishness, sinfulness. 
So, of course Jesus’ first sign was at a wedding.  He came to help us overcome everything that holds us back.  How amazing then that he does so in marriage.  Don’t be afraid to let Christ into your married life.  It says in the gospel that Jesus was also invited to the wedding.  Do you invite Jesus to your married life every day?  I’m sure for many of you, you invited him to your wedding by having a religious/Catholic wedding ceremony.  But, don’t let that be the last invitation.
If you invite Jesus into your marriage he always brings something with him.  We hear about the wine in gospel.  Jesus made about 100 gallons of wine for this party.  What is that all about?  Is Jesus promoting drunkenness?  I don’t think so.  Actually, in the Bible wine is often used as an image for joy.  This couple had run out of wine.  They had run out of joy in their lives.  But, by listening to Jesus, he brings them an abundance of wine, an abundance of joy.  How many couples today feel like that, like they have run out of wine, out of joy?  But, Christ can do amazing things if you invite him into your lives and into your marriage.

I think we all have a great responsibility to pray for one another.  But, I’m asking everyone to pray especially for married couples.  Say a prayer every day this week for all married couples.  If you are married, this includes your marriage as well.  Let’s all pray that Christ would bring joy and peace to the hearts of all married persons.  Jesus’ first sign was a blessing on a married couple.  Let’s pray that this blessing continues for all the married couples of our parish and of our world.

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