New Beginning: Marriage

(Homily for Second Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C)

Message: If we take Jesus as our starting point we can make a new beginning regarding marriage.

Last week we talked about divine and human generation. Human generation, of course, results from the joining of a man and woman. We see that theme in this week's readings. They speak about human marriage - and divine marriage.

We hear about divine marriage in the first reading. God, says the prophet Isaiah, is like a bridegroom who rejoices in his bride. In the Bible, Israel is God's bride.

Jesus takes up the theme of divine marriage. He begins his public ministry by calling himself "the bridegroom." (Mark 2:9) And in today's Gospel, Jesus the divine bridegroom, attends a human wedding feast. He performs his first miracle on behalf of a young bride and groom.

These readings contain a richness that a person could spend an entire life mining. I once did a two-year Bible study with the theme of divine marriage. It shows up in every part of the Bible.

It's not easy, however, to speak about the Biblical vision of marriage. The teaching has always been a challenge, even for Jesus' first hearers. (cf. Mt 19:10; Mk 10:10) Today the challenge has increased because the Bible views marriage differently from our culture.

Our culture has a romantic view of marriage. It sees marriage as a union that results from a strong attraction between two people. They fall in love and join their lives together. As long as that love lasts - and they hope and believe it will last forever - as long as love lasts, they have a marriage. This view of marriage, which has been developing for centuries, is the romantic view.

Now there's nothing wrong with romance. Falling in love is a beautiful emotion; it gets a person outside of himself. The Bible and Christian tradition have plenty of romance, but also something more: the great romance - Jesus, the divine Bridegroom. This starting point gives us a vision of marriage, different from our culture.

This difference has led to misunderstanding. People depicts us as outdated, old fashioned, narrow-minded, judgmental, repressive, unkind, intolerant, bigoted and hateful. I don't know if their judgment on us is accurate. Overall I don't think so, but I do know this: Many of our young people fear that judgment. That fear makes them reluctant to identify themselves as Christians - and especially as Catholics. Who wants to be called bigoted or hateful?

We have not done a good job communicating our teaching: the beauty and romance of divine marriage. I can't say everything in a single homily, but I would like to at least do this: Give a glimpse of how much Jesus - and Mary - love young married couples.

Let's take Mary first. Today's Gospel shows her compassion - a compassion that extends to seeming small details. "They have no wine," she says to Jesus. She's concerned about a young couple facing embarrassment at their wedding party.

Jesus responds with the big picture: He has come for the salvation of the entire people - Israel and the new Israel. "My hour has not yet come," he responds.

Mary does not argue. She supports her Son's mission. "Do whatever he tells you."* Those are her words always. If we do what Jesus tells us, things will work out right.

As we see today, Jesus does something extraordinary. Using six stone water jars, he performs his first miracle. He turns the water into wine - about 600 liters of premium quality wine. That's over 150 gallons! Jesus doesn't want us to get drunk, but he does want us to enjoy his creation. As one of my friends used to say, "Everything in moderation - but everything!" (smile)

Can anyone doubt that Jesus - and Mother Mary - love young married couples? And old ones too. When I celebrate a 25th or 50th anniversary, I remind couples that Jesus "keeps the best wine until the last." I've experienced it myself. God has blessed me with wonderful assignments, but now that I am in this Valley, I know Jesus has saved the best for the last.

So what's the take home regarding marriage? We know that marriage has become a difficult topic, but like Jesus - and Mary - we want to help all young couples. We know they sometimes get into awkward situations. Although we usually don't have solutions, we do want them to come to Jesus and to Mary.

Remember the Magi from a few weeks back? The Bible says they found the child Jesus "together with his mother." (Mt 2:12)

If we take Jesus as our starting point we can make a new beginning: a new beginning in our families, a new beginning in our parish and a new beginning regarding marriage, holy matrimony. Jesus is the Bridegroom. Let's take Mary's good advice: "Do whatever he tells you." Amen.

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*We want to do what Jesus tells us. For that reason we have begun a Novena for Parish Renewal. At the conclusion of the General Intercessions we will say the Prayer for Renewal. I ask you also to say it at home - to ask God, What is your will for us? We want to follow Mary's perfect advice: "Do whatever he tells you." If we do what Jesus tells, things will work out right.

Spanish Version

From Archives (Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C):

2013: Why Jesus Loves Marriage
2010: Each Holding Twenty to Thirty Gallons
2004: We’re Eating Grass!
2001: Like a Bridegroom

Other Sunday Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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