THEME: MARRIAGE – PROFOUND VALUE IN CHRIST
READINGS: Isaiah 62:1-5/ 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11/ John 2:1-11
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Marriage for the Christian has a value which goes beyond the social event of the wedding day. Indeed, it has a value that is more profound than a man and a woman living together for life. This is a message that the wedding at Cana in Galilee (John 2:1-11) inspires. By transforming water into wine, our Lord Jesus Christ calls our attention to the spiritual transformation that takes place when a Christian man and Christian woman celebrate their commitment of love and life on the day of their Holy Matrimony. This means that the “wedding” is not a mere social event of the gathering of family, friends, church members and the priest to witness the exchange of “vows” or consent by the couple. More than that, the gathering involves Jesus Christ, Mother Mary and the saints (disciples of Jesus) in glory, as was in the case of the wedding at Cana. And Christ is not merely present, for He transforms the two persons (symbolized by water) into one (symbolized by wine) through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the power of the same Holy Spirit, the couple now transformed in Christ are to live out the new value of oneness in love in their daily lives. How do they do this? Let us pick out a few lessons from the fact that Christ used water at the wedding at Cana. Christ could have provided wine without asking for some water. Nonetheless, He asked for it. This means that for every couple to continue enjoying the miracle of transformation, they have to offer Christ something. To know “what” couples are to offer Christ, let us consider the uses and characteristics of water.
To limit ourselves in this reflection, let us consider only six lessons. The choice of the number six is due to the fact that at the wedding at Cana, there were six stone jars which were filled with water. Our lessons will be based on three uses of water and three characteristics of water.
USES OF WATER
The three uses of water to be considered are:
We may take various types of drink (beer, coke, orange juice, etc.), but our thirst may not be quenched or satisfied. For most of us, only water really satisfies our thirst. Water, therefore, signifies satisfaction. Therefore, as long as the husband and the wife (in accordance with their faith) satisfy each other’s genuine spiritual, emotional, material, social, financial, intimacy and other needs, they are offering Christ some water to transform into the wine (joy) of marriage.
Cooking or the provision of food may appear to be something ordinary in marriage and so was the water provided Christ at the wedding at Cana. Cooking or the provision of food is an ordinary activity in a marriage, yet it is very important. Yes, humans “shall not live on bread alone”; however, ordinarily, they cannot live without “bread” (food). A couple should, therefore, ensure that meals are provided and as often as possible, meals should be prepared and eaten together at home. In Africa in particular, many marriages cannot survive if meals are often taken outside the home.
Christ did not ask for any extraordinary thing in order to provide the couple at Cana with wine. He asked for ordinary water. Similarly, when a husband and the wife perform their ordinary duties of providing “chop-money” and cooking, Christ brings contentment (signified by wine) in the marriage.
- FOR WASHING:
Water is used for washing and in baptism it signifies the cleansing of our sins. In other words, water signifies forgiveness. Similarly, anytime a wife and the husband forgive each other, they offer Christ the water of marriage which He transforms into a lasting union. On the contrary, when spouses do not forgive each other, their jars lack the water to be transformed into the joy (wine) of peacefully living together.
CHARACTERISTICS OF WATER
The three characteristics of water we shall consider here are:
- It is colourless;
- It is shapeless;
- It is tasteless.
The colourless character of water may signify transparency or honesty. A wife and the husband should, therefore, be emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and financially transparent to each other. When they do this, Christ will transform the colourless water of their marriage into mutual trustworthiness. And such trustworthiness gives a sweet wine taste to their marriage. On the other hand, when one discovers that his or her partner is dishonest or unfaithful, it brings bitterness in the union.
Water is shapeless; it takes the shape of its container. This means that water signifies flexibility or adjustment. When, for example, a wife’s “shape” changes with time (for instance, due to childbearing), her husband should also make the necessary adjustments. On the other hand, if at a point in time, the husband is without a job, his wife should also adjust to the new situation. When they both learn to adjust, Christ transforms the shapeless water of their marriage into the sweet wine of mutual respect and appreciation.
The tastelessness of marriage signifies those ordinary moments of the marriage when there are no excitements, as well as, the familiarity that soon creeps into marriage some months or years after the wedding.
When husband and wife do not allow boredom to lead them to look for excitement in a third person, when they do not allow familiarity of each other to breed contempt, Christ transforms the tasteless water of their marriage into the sweet wine of steadfast love.
I would like to conclude with a prayer for all couples: may you always endeavour to provide Christ with the water of your marriage and when you do so,
- May He transform your water of satisfaction into the wine of joy in your marriage, Amen!
- May He transform your water of providing meals into the wine of contentment and good health, Amen!
- May He transform your water of forgiveness into the wine of a peaceful and lasting marriage that only death can separate, Amen!
- May He transform your colourless water into the wine of trustworthiness and faithfulness, Amen!
- May He transform your shapeless water into the wine of mutual respect and appreciation, Amen!
- May He transform your tasteless water into the sweet wine of steadfast love, Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John K. Louis