2nd Sun [C] 2010

Fr. Charles Irvin


Isaiah 62:1-5; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-11

 

Today’s Gospel account comes to us from the Gospel of St. John, a Gospel dominated by the theme of God’s love. Of the four Gospels, John’s is the Gospel of Love, particularly God’s commitment to you and to me to care for us, to cherish us, and to belong to us if we give Him our love in return.

 

In St. John’s Gospel the first miracle of Jesus Christ takes place at wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. At that banquet Jesus, performing His first miracle, changes water into wine. St. John closes his Gospel with another wedding feast, the Last Supper. The bible speaks of it as the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb.” There Jesus, performing His last and greatest miracle before suffering and dying on His Cross, changes bread and wine into His Body and Blood. In the first wedding feast He changes water into wine, in the last wedding feast He changes wine into His Blood, Blood to be poured out for us in redemptive, self-sacrificing love. The fact that St. John’s brackets his Gospel with these two weddings feasts and their miracles is not a coincidence; it is by design.

Every culture in every age recognizes the central importance of marriage in the ordering of human societies, in their social structures. Marriage is the fundamental cell upon which all social bodies, all human societies, are built. Marriage ceremonies universally celebrate our human commitments to belong, to care, to cherish, and to love. Marriage is the matrix in which children are conceived, born, nurtured, and raised. It is in the life of a family that the personalities and characters of children are shaped and developed. It is the primary locus in which children learn to be other-centered and not self-centered. It is there that they learn to relate to others and learn to live in inter-relatedness with others, the fundamental “glue” that holds all societies together in peace and justice.

I bring all of this up here because in today’s Gospel account we find Jesus at a wedding. His presence blesses the meaning and purpose of marriage. We should pay particular attention to Christ’s response to His mother when He says: “My hour has not yet come.” What was that “hour”? It was none other than that “hour” or that time when, at the end of His life, we find Him at the Last Supper followed by His agony in the Garden of Gethsemani and ending by His death on the cross. This is the “hour” in which He says: “This is my body, take it; this is my blood, drink it. This is where I marry you in an unbreakable union that nothing, not even sin or death, can overcome. I will love you, no matter what. I am marrying you in an everlasting covenant, and even if you crucify and put me to death, I will come back from the grave to love you, because nothing can make me not love you.” The new and everlasting covenant, you see, is God’s marriage to you and me.

Marriage, you see, is central to what God is all about in Christ’s incarnation. It is the focal point in which God encounters us and gives Himself to us in love. Marriage is all about commitment and belonging. Secular individualism is not. Marriage is all about the generation and fostering of human life. Secular individualism is not. Marriage is all about understanding about what kind of a God God is. Secularism seeks to dismiss God. It fractures us Marriage is all about living together in a community, a community of committed love and bonded caring forever. Secular individualism is only about caring for our feelings as individuals. Secular individualism tells us: “If it feels good, do it. If it doesn’t feel good, dump it or kill it.” Marriage is all about self-sacrifice for others because of love. Secularism is not.

In the culture wars going on in the world around us, the secularist argument is dominant in the movies, on television, and in the newspaper media, while the arguments of believers are to be found more in the radio talk shows. Oh, there are some exceptions to be sure. I am just speaking here of what is usually to be found.

So when you hear talk about abortion, promiscuity, adultery, premarital sex, the gay lifestyle, contraception, divorce and remarriage, and now cloning, realize that they each have some disconnection with the central meaning, value, and purpose of marriage. Is Christ to be invited to the celebration of your life, or do you want Him to stay away? For if He comes to the party, then all that we have watered down and degraded in terms of human values and purposes in life, all those gallons of water in the stone water jars of our cold hearts will be changed. Are you unsatisfied with watered down faith in others? Watered down trust? A watered down marriage, watered down love, or a watered down life? If so, invite Christ into your celebration of life and all those gallons of watered down human living will be changed.

In the scheme of Christ’s mission and purpose, the wedding feast of Cana isn’t something that was simply “pretty” or “nice.” It was the location for His first miracle and it, along with the Last Supper (otherwise called “The Wedding Feast of the Lamb”) it brackets all that Jesus Christ gives us in His life among us as reported to us in St. John’s Gospel. Bethlehem, Nazareth, Cana, and the Last Supper, and the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, are at the core of God’s marrying us in Jesus Christ. All that they give us, along with the miracle at Cana, are at the core of our religious beliefs and our understandings of what it means to belong to the human family.

Not many days ago we celebrated the birth of Christ. All of the images of Mary, Joseph, and the Christ-child presented to us are still fresh in our memories. Following Christmas, on January 1st, we celebrated Mary’s motherhood. The Mass for New Year’s Day was celebrated as the Feast of Mary the Mother of God. With Epiphany our eyes were directed to the scene where the wise men, powerful worldly leaders, came as searchers seeking the wisdom of God found in the birth of Jesus Christ. The theme of God’s love, of belonging to God’s family… the theme of the central importance of family in bringing us God’s love is a theme that is inescapable.

To whom, we must ask ourselves, do our hearts belong? What is found in our hearts? To whom and to what do we give our hearts… give ourselves over to? Like the needle of a compass, where do our hearts turn when the distractions, cares, and concerns of our days lose their grip on us and our hearts are free again? Who and what holds our hearts?

God is a God of love. He offers and then He waits for our response of love in return.

About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”