“… there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.” (John 2:1-2)
Weddings are always joy-filled occasions. The Cana wedding must have been really special to have become the occasion of Jesus’ first miracle. I have always liked Lord Byron’s non-theological but poetic description of the event: “Water saw its God and blushed.”
Jesus’ “mighty deed” as John would call it, as was true of all his miracles, was a touch of the “fullness of time” (Ep. 1:10) when all things will be accomplished and “the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb… for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord as water covers the sea.” (Isa. 6)
Marriage, of course, is a prophetic symbol of the union of God with his people and Paul sees the marriage union reflected in the bond between Jesus and the Church, the Bride of Christ.
Successful marriages are always based on self-giving and not on self-gratification and fulfillment. I stand in great admiration of the sacrifices families make to provide for their children and aging parents. It is a reflection of the unconditional love of God, a love that hopes, but does not demand and always forgives. Such love can only be found in encountering Jesus.
The Church teaches that Christian marriage and family life are a way to Christian perfection. It is a path to holiness. It is the foundation upon which society rests. When families crumble, society crumbles. If fidelity, integrity and mutual respect don’t exist in families, they don’t exist in society.
Only last week Pope Benedict XVI emphasized that the family is the primary place for the transmission of the faith where children learn “both the content and the practice of Christian faith.”
For a husband and wife, the ends of mutual love and procreation are intimately linked together and sexual intimacy is important and necessary for the good of the total marriage relationship. The absolutely unique personal nature of married love is expressed through the conjugal love of a man and a woman. The church no longer describes marriage in legal terms such as contract, but rather uses the term covenant, which emphasizes unconditional love and commitment.
In marriage two encounter Jesus and become one.
The priest or deacon witnesses the Sacrament of Marriage and sees that it is recorded. But, the unique aspect of marriage is further shown by the fact, that the husband and wife, as a couple and as individuals, are the true ministers of this sacrament.