(A timely meditation on marriage)
Homily – 2nd Sunday OT C 1/20/13
There was a wedding . . . . (Jn. 2:1)
The teaching of the Church on Marriage is so foundational, and so deep, that the entire Catholic Faith can be summed up in those four words from today’s Gospel: There was a wedding. . . .
. . . .Once upon a time, in a far off land called Heaven, there was a Son who lived with His Father. And one day this Son left His Father’s house and journeyed to a far distant land, called Earth, to look for a Bride to marry.
And just as Moses, Isaac, Jacob, and Tobias of the Old Testament did, in that far distant land the Son found the girl of His dreams: Our Holy Mother the Church.
On the banks of the Jordan River, with his best man, John the Baptist, at His side, Christ proposed to her, pledging his love to her publicly for the first time, and the Father gave His blessing on this union that day.
There next followed a three year engagement period, where Jesus the Bridegroom and His Bride got to know each other better. During the engagement period, many objected to this upcoming marriage – the Devil, the Pharisees, the rich young man, Judas Iscariot, even Peter at times – but nothing was going to stop these two foolish young lovers from becoming one.
Finally, at the Last Supper, the vows were exchanged. This is my body, given for you. This is my blood, my heart, poured out totally for you, as an eternal covenant of my unconditional, indissoluble love.
And, as it truly right and just, after those vows were taken, after the engagement period was finished, the marriage was consummated on the Cross the next day. “Consummatum est – It is consummated.”
Three Days later, on Easter Sunday, Christ came forth from tomb as a Bridegroom coming from his bridal chamber, and a 40 Day Honeymoon ensued.
During that time, it appeared to all eyes that the Bride was “expecting”, and on Pentecost Sunday, the Bride of Christ, our Mother the Church gave birth to the first of many Children, as 3000 were born again of water and the Holy Spirit that day.
A man shall leave his Father and his Mother, and be united to His wife, and the two shall become one Flesh. What God has joined, let no one separate.
Jesus left His Father’s throne in Heaven, and His Mother Mary’s home in Nazareth, and was joined to His Bride the Church, and the two have become One Body of Christ. And what God has joined, no one can separate.
And at the end of time, Christ the Bridegroom will take His beloved Bride to His Father’s House in Heaven, and then, the Wedding Feast of the Lamb and His beautiful Bride will begin.
Blessed are those who are called to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, where the wine never runs out, where the best is always yet to come.
Yes, there was a wedding, the marriage of the One God-Man Jesus Christ with His one woman, His Bride the Church. The couple just celebrated their 2013th Anniversary.
And even in those bad times, when His Bride is unfaithful to Him, even when she in her sinful members betrays Him and denies Him and nails Him anew to a Cross, even then Christ the Bridegroom forgives her, and remains faithful to her, and will not ever think of ever divorcing His beloved Spouse. No, He will love her and honor her all the days of His Risen Life.
And as our faith is Incarnational, which means that with the birth of Christ the Divine now comes to us through the human, if we accept Christ’s vision of Heavenly Marriage, we must also accept His vision of Earthly Marriage, as being a life long union of one man and one woman, oriented to the procreation and raising of children, a visible sign of Jesus’ indissoluble, fruitful love for His Bride the Church. For the Christian, this and only this can be called a true marriage.
The Church has always seen Jesus’ teaching on marriage to be a most integral part of the Good News Christ came to bring to people of all nations and times and cultures.
St. John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded for defending the sanctity of marriage;
Pope St. Calistus in the 3rd century declared that male slaves had the right to marry free women, even though centuries old Roman law declared such marriages illegal, and even though this led to the first major schism in the Church, and the first Anti-Pope in Church History.
In the 9th Century, Pope St. Nicholas (known as Nicholas the Great), declared that a daughter was free to marry a man even against the will of her father, even if her father was the emperor (which was the case at the time).
And in the 16th Century, the Church in England broke away from the Catholic Church, and Chancellor St. Thomas More and Bishop St. John the Baptist Fisher both lost their heads, all because Henry VIII was refused an annulment to his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.
Finally, the Church has never been opposed to inter-racial marriages, and has never in her official Canon Laws held mixed race to be an impediment to marry.
Given her track record, there should be little surprise that the Catholic Church continues today to proclaim the good news of Christ’s teaching on marriage as a life-long union of one man and one woman, oriented to children.
May we be faithful to Christ, and to His Bride the Church, in esteeming and defending this institution as the saints of old did, and as we approach Jesus, the Bridegroom of our soul, in Holy Communion today, may we say to him, freely and without reservation, “Jesus, I take you to be my Lord. I promise to be true to you and all your teachings, and all the teachings of your Bride the Church, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you Jesus, and honor you, all the days of my life. Amen.”