March 31, 2021 - Pastor Message10/20/2021
THE YEAR OF ST. JOSEPH CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE AND FAMILY (cont.)
“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servers, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, ‘Fill the jars with water’ ... Then he told them, ‘Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.’ So they took it. When the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine...he called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves good wine first, and then, when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have saved the good wine until now’” (John 2:110).
The “good wine.” Of what sacrament does that remind us? The Eucharist, of course, the lifegiving outpouring of Christ’s saving blood on the cross that gives us the grace to share in his resurrection, the Paschal Mystery we prepare to celebrate at Easter throughout the Lenten season. But we see in the story of the wedding at Cana, Jesus’ first miracle in the gospel of John, the establishment of a new sacrament, matrimony. This story reminds us that the two are intimately connected.
What are sacraments? They are effective signs of God’s grace in the world. By taking the natural institution of marriage and using it to reveal himself and his plan, Jesus makes marriage a sacrament. This was already foreshadowed in God’s plan by the prophets, like Hosea, whose marriages God used to reveal his love for his people, no matter how often they strayed. But in Jesus, marriage not only represents or reminds us of God’s love, it makes it present, makes it real, makes it grow, and it becomes a vital part of God’s saving plan for us.
That is what we mean by “effective signs”, that sacraments make what they represent happen. In sacramental marriage, God’s love and life happens, for the couple and for those around them, in what we call grace. This manifests itself and grows through their self-sacrificing love for each other and their family in union with Christ. That is why the “good wine” of the Eucharist is so important to sacramental marriage. By regularly and attentively celebrating the Eucharist together, Christ’s saving sacrifice nourishes and enlivens the couple’s own love. The couple then goes out from Mass to give of themselves in union with Christ more and more for each other, which overflows into self-giving love for their children, their extended families, their neighbors, parish, and community. That is how God’s love and life comes through them into the world that is the sacrament of marriage. Let us pray for all married couples for those in sacramental marriages, that their celebration of the Eucharist together may nourish their relationship and lead them out into the world to share that life with others and for those not in sacramental marriages, that their thirst for Christ may move them to bring their marriages into his saving light by celebrating them as a sacrament and receiving and sharing the grace that only he can bring.
Fr. Marc Stockton