Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
Second Sunday after Epiphany—15 January A.D. 2017

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

Chair of Unity Octave

    I should mention that the Roman Missal often begins the Gospel with the phrase “At that time…” in order to avoid a cumbersome explanation of exactly when the event took place. One of our people asked me about the actual text, which says: “On the third day….”  My glib, off the cuff answer was that Jewish wedding parties often went on for quite a while, and that was probably why they were out of wine.  My answer may have been true, but a another answer seems to be that Saint John wrote about days one and two in his first chapter as the days during which Jesus interacted with John the Baptist at Bethany beyond the Jordan, and day three begins the next chapter in Cana of Galilee.  However, modern scholarship cannot tell us exactly where “Bethany beyond the Jordan” and “Cana of Galilee” were actually located, and some theories place them about 90 miles apart, giving the wedding party plenty of time to get started before Jesus’ arrival.

 “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee:
and manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him.”[1]

    “Jesus … manifested His glory.”  As I mentioned to you on the Epiphany, this miracle at Cana is the last of the “epiphanies” or manifestations of our Lord.  The first was to the angels at Bethlehem, the second to the three kings from the East, and the third was at our Lord’s Baptism in the Jordan River.  The event this morning is the manifestation of our Lord’s miracle working powers—His time having come or not, Jesus had begun His public life.

    In the night Office, Saint Augustine told us that “Jesus was pleased to be invited and to attend the wedding because “He is the Author and Blesser of marriage,” and wanted to refute those who would come in latter times … “depart[ing] from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error, and doctrines of devils, forbidding [Christians] to marry….”[2]  Augustine, himself, came under the influence of such false prophets as a young man, joining the sect of the Manicheans, who preached the heresy that spiritual things came from a good “god,” while material things came from an evil god, and that marriage was a bad thing since it resulted in children in which a good soul would be trapped in an evil material body.

    Augustine also notes something, highly germane for our time, that the same Lord Jesus testified before the Pharisees that Moses allowed divorce only because of the “hardness of their hearts”:

    From the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother; and shall cleave to his wife. And they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh.  What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. [3]

    You may have noticed how the Church placed this Gospel with a passage from Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.[4]  Paul was addressing the faithful Christians as members of the Mystical Body of Christ—we should all get together as one, with each person exercising his talents for the good of the whole.  But it takes little or nothing to apply what he says to a husband and wife;

    Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good: loving one another with the charity of brotherhood: with honor preventing one another: in carefulness not slothful: in spirit fervent: serving the Lord: rejoicing in hope: patient in tribulation: instant in prayer: communicating to the necessities of the saints: pursuing hospitality: bless them that persecute you: bless and curse not. Rejoice with them that rejoice, weep with them that weep: being of one mind, one towards another: not minding high things, but consenting to the humble. Be not wise in your own conceits.

    Marriage is a mystical symbol of the relationship between God and His Church.  The relationship between man and wife ought then to be a sort of macrocosm of God and His Church—a sort of miniature version of the Mystical Body of Christ.

    Think about the nature of men and women.  They actually have a great deal in common:  eyes, ears, nose, throat, the organs of digestion, respiration, and circulation;  arms, legs, fingers, toes, and head.  Oh, there are many differences as well!  But each and every difference denotes a complimentary pair.  In each and every case the physical and mental differences between men and women make possible the birth and nurture of children and the possibility of family life.  It is precisely this “complementarity” that enables man and wife to form that Mystical Body in miniature of which I spoke.

    Now, as modern day Christians, we are acutely aware that difficulties present themselves in just about all marriages.  But that is the underlying message of today’s Gospel:  We have an advocate in the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.  Life in a poor village in a backwater like Nazareth had to face many of the difficulties we know in our modern lives.  The Holy Family was endowed with exceptional graces, but they were surrounded by these difficulties in their friends and neighbors.  Food was never a certainty, medicine was nearly non‑existent—death could be a bad harvest or a puncture wound away.  Days could be arduous, with long hours of work with no relief for sore muscles and no escape from the heat or the cold.  Animals and enemies posed a nearly constant danger.  Perhaps the worst difficulty, and the greatest enemy of married life, was boredom—what do you do to compensate for the humdrum days and the long hours of darkness?

    In the Gospel we see that Mary was concerned with the married couple—she noticed their difficulty even without being told.  We can be sure that the great Mother of God will be even more concerned with the real difficulties of family life—much more so than with a trivial shortage of wine “on the third day”!

    And we are not forbidden to place our problems before her.  The husband and wife who kneel together and call on Mary and her Holy Family to grant them holiness and fidelity, to grant them an increase in the actual graces of their marriage will not be disappointed.  God, to use Augustine’s phrase, is the Author and Blesser of marriage”—and Mary is His Mother!


[2]   Augustine, Tract IX on John, Third Nocturn,  referring to I Timothy iv: 1-3

[4]   Epistle: Romans xii: 6-16

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