The Epiphany of Christian Marriage
I don’t know if you caught the last lines of today’s Gospel, but
let me repeat them to you, “Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs, at
Cana in Galilee, and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe
in him.” This is the third time
that Jesus’s glory is revealed. The
first was by the wise men. The
second was at his Baptism by John, and now the third is at Cana.
That is why this event is included with the first two as being part of
the epiphany or manifestation of the Lord.
However, there is one big difference.
In the first two epiphanies, the Lord’s glory is revealed by others.
In Bethlehem, his glory is revealed by the Magi.
At the Jordan River, his glory is revealed by the Voice of the Father
and the presence of the Holy Spirit as a dove.
Here, though, at Cana, Jesus reveals his glory himself.
It is the beginning of a life of revelation, the revelation that the
“Word has been made flesh and now dwells among us,” words from the Prologue
of John. The last sentence of
the gospel is that the disciples began to believe in Jesus. This is the theme
of the Gospel of John. The
last words of the Gospel are: “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of
(his) disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that
you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that
through this belief you may have life in his name.”
We are called to faith to share his eternal life.
Jesus reveals himself to us continually, sometimes in monumental,
awesome ways. Sometimes he
reveals himself in the quiet events of our daily lives.
Today’s first reading and Gospel reading speak about marriage.
The first reading from Isaiah prophesies the day that God’s love will
be experienced like the new love of marriage, the love of a bridegroom for his
bride. The epiphany of the Gospel
reading takes place at a marriage feast.
The Lord reveals himself in the typical, ordinary events of a loving,
We have had many wonderful examples of marriage in our parish.
We have husbands who have devoted their retired years to taking care of
their wives, and wives their husbands. We
have young husband and wives who understand the hurt of their spouse and who
care for them even though it is often at the expense of their own desires and
We had an elderly gentleman in the parish whose wife suffered from
facial cancer and who cared for her to the end, helping her keep her dignity.
We have wives whose lives consist in caring for their husbands.
We have young couples who work hard to understand the hurts in the
backgrounds of their spouse and sacrifice their own desires and even needs to
be present and loving for their spouse. These
and the myriad examples of sacrificial love are ways in which Christ continues
to manifest his presence at or in a marriage.
How different this type of marriage is then marriage as portrayed in
many of our television shows or by many of those whom we call celebrities.
To these, marriage consists in what an individual is going to get, not
in what an individual is allowed to give.
Their marriages are basically selfish.
When the husband or wife is no longer having their needs met, they seek
an end to the marriage that really never existed in the first place.
At least it never existed as a Christian, sacramental marriage.
The essence of a sacramental marriage is forming a life of giving, a
life of true love.
It is a wonderful paradox in life that the more someone takes, the less
he or she has and the more someone gives, the more he or she has. You who are
married certainly understand this in the context of your marriage.
Having someone to give to is infinitely more important, infinitely more
mature than having someone whom a person can take from.
One of the sad occurrences of our society is that many people enter
into a trial marriage before the real thing.
They start living together to see if they will be happy, and then, when
they feel all is well, they decide to marry.
The sad part of this is that they choose cohabitation to see if their
needs will be met by the relationship. Most
of the time, the marriage that follows break up.
Why? Aside from this
factor or that factor, the root problem is this: If a person enters into a
relationship to see if he or she will be happy, then he or she is more
concerned with getting than giving. For
some it is impossible to move from that selfish motivation to the Christian
motivation of being in the relationship to become more Christlike, of being in
the relationship to give.
“But, Father, how is a guy or girl to know that this person is right
for him or her?” No one
can predict the future. Certainly,
an intelligent couple will wait out the period of infatuation and learn to
love each other through a courtship and an engagement.
But even more important than courtship and engagement is faith, faith
and trust in Jesus that if the man and woman do the right thing, love each
other in a selfless way rather than a selfish way, that the presence of the
Lord will help them form a community of love in their house.
Through that love, due to the presence of Christ’s love, their house
becomes a Christian home.
It all sounds too idealistic, doesn’t it?
None of this takes into account this one’s moods or that one’s
sloppiness. Human beings, with
human limitations, need ideals. You
need to have the ideal of a Christian marriage as a goal for your marriage.
How about children? The needs and wants of children continually draw
the attention of husbands and wives away from each other.
Yes, that is true. But
children should have their needs met, even if this takes a tremendous amount
of work and limits the amount of time husbands and wives can share together.
At the same time, you are being good parents when you also set aside
time for each other, time when you are away from the kids.
The little ones’ bedtimes give you some evening time together.
Put them to bed not only because they need sleep, but you need them to
give their mom and dad time to themselves.
And consider setting aside a time every few weeks when you can go out
together without the kids as an opportunity to reconnect and renew your love.
It is probably difficult for most of our young families to set this up: get a
baby sitter, choose what you want to do, and relax and enjoy your evening out
without constantly worrying about the kids.
Sometimes you might think that it is not worth the hassle.
But if you put up with the myriad of tasks just so you can go out for
an evening because you know your spouse needs this, then you are in fact,
loving your spouse in a sacrificial way and allowing Christ to find another
presence in your love for each other, in your marriage.
The vast majority of time that I spend with people in my office
revolves around the sacrament of marriage, usually in marriage preparation.
It is time well spent when couples seek ways to really be loving, to
really be Christian.
It is time well spent for any priest when he sees so many of you caring for each other, and giving witness to the presence of Christ in your love. For you, loving couples, have become epiphanies of the Lord.