“As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you.”
[dropcap type=”4″]T[/dropcap]he Prophecy of Isaiah helps us to understand why we celebrate marriage and why Jesus worked His first miracle at a wedding in Cana in Galilee.
A wedding banquet was not “when” we might have expected His first miracle. Usually, His miracles cured the sick, healed the leper, fed a hungry crowd of thousands, gave sight to the blind, or in some other way relieved suffering and sorrow.
So why did He work His first miracle at a wedding banquet? Because He wanted it to be not only a miracle but also a sign of something that surpasses all other miracles. It was to be a sign of Jesus’ suffering, death and Resurrection. It was intended to point to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb which we celebrate at every Mass.
Notice where Jesus worked His first miracle — at Cana in Galilee, a few miles from Nazareth, but of even less significance. One of Jesus’ disciples said, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” We can only imagine what he said about Cana. This wedding and the man from Nazareth named Jesus seemed to be of very little significance to many people 2,000 years ago. Perhaps we should not be surprised that similar disregard for marriage and for Christ is manifested today. This is bad news for our society and especially bad news for children. But this bad news, while truly bad, is nothing compared to the Good News of Jesus.
At the Wedding in Cana, Jesus did what only God can do, something no human being or other creature can do: He changed water into wine. There are many things that only God can do, but that He does because He is love. For example, only God can join man and woman in an unbreakable bond of marriage. Humans cannot do that. Only God can give a couple the grace they need to be faithful until death.
Likewise, only God can bring an end to the sexual revolution that is wreaking so much havoc in marriages and in our nation. He will not do it without us, just as Jesus required the servants to fill up the empty jars with water before He transformed them into wine.
It is a blessing to remember two things: first, that without God we can do nothing; and secondly, “Nothing is impossible with God.”
Mary told the waiters at table: “Do whatever Jesus tells you.” This is how the destructive forces of the sexual revolution are overcome, through the obedience of faith. This is how confusion about marriage is cleared up, by believing and trusting in God’s plan for marriage and the family.
Let us remember, too, that Jesus not only can change water into wine, He can also change wine into His own precious Blood. This is why the Eucharist transforms lives, and enables us in union with Christ to transform the society in which we live.
At the Last Supper, before changing the bread and wine into His precious Body and Blood, He said (Jn 15:5): “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”
Why do we celebrate marriage today? Why do we not lose hope? Because Jesus loves us; the Divine Bridegroom loves His Bride the Church.
What Jesus did at Cana was only the first of many miracles; and He continues to work many miracles in AD 2014. We participate in the greatest of miracles every time we celebrate the Eucharist. Husbands and wives participate in the miracle of fidelity whenever they heed Mary’s words: “Do whatever Jesus tells you.”
Remember, too, the words of the headwaiter to the bridegroom at Cana, “You have kept the good wine until last.”
The love of Jesus the Bridegroom does not grow weaker with the passing of the centuries. Quite the contrary, when we are weak, then He is strong. The Church certainly is passing through a furious storm at this point in the 21st century, but we are not sailing troubled waters alone. Marriage passes through times of testing and discouragement but the loving God who joins man and woman together is always with them, giving them the grace to persevere. “Know that I am with you always,” He promises, “even until the end of time.”
This column was adapted from Bishop Olmsted’s homily for the Sept. 27 Celebrating Marriage Mass and luncheon at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral. Photo: Jon L. Hendricks/CNS.