The Gospel for Holy Mass today focuses on the last manifestation or “theophany” (as it is known in the Eastern Catholic Church) of the Epiphany of the Lord. On the Solemnity of the Epiphany we focus more on the Coming of the Magi, last week’s focus was on the Baptism of the Lord and this week we will focus of the Wedding Feast at Cana, Christ’s first public miracle. But first, we need to take a look at the beautiful readings that set up the Holy Gospel, which supernaturally prepare us to celebrate the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist.
In the Book of the Prophet Isaiah chapter 62, we see the Lord saying that for “Zion’s and Jerusalem’s sake” He will “not be silent…not be quiet,” because He must share this glorious news with all of us. He wants to tell us that the Messiah will vindicate us in glory with a “burning torch” as beautiful as a new “bright dawn.” He is going to change everything; even our names and we will be as precious as a “glorious crown in the hand of the Lord.” What is He “talking” about? The Lord is revealing through His chosen prophet and announcing almost 700 years before it happens, that He is sending us a Messiah to ransom us back from our captivity in sin (original sin of our first parents) and that we will no longer be called “forsaken” and “desolate.” He is going to give us a new name “my delight” and “espoused” because He wants to marry us all-yes even us guys, in a good, holy way, not distorted sinful way. God refers to Himself as a “builder” because He is going to re-build His relationship with us. God is the “designer” of Creation and us. He is also referred to as “builder” in the Old and New Testaments. Isaiah 28:16, Hebrews 3:4, Matthew 16:18 and Ephesians all directly or indirectly show God building Creation, the Church and us. Isaiah shows that God wants to marry us. This is also that beautiful bridegroom/bride language from the Song of Songs Pope St. John Paul II reflected on in his Theology of the Body. Many celibate priests, brothers and sisters marry God here on earth is a deeply profound way, which is a vocational marital calling to help “build” up the spiritual life of the members of the Church, while others take a human spouse in a different kind marital vocation to help “build” up the Body of Christ, the Church. Both are a unique reflection of our Heavenly Marriage.
In the 2nd Reading from St. Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians he describes different kinds of gifts, graces and charisms given to all of us by the Holy Spirit not just for our sake or use, but for the sake of all in the Church. They are to be used in a complete self-giving way for us to be co-builders with God for the Kingdom of Heaven, of which we hope to belong. But, for this earth bond part of our journey they are meant to build up the Kingdom of Heaven on earth-His Church. It is the same Holy Spirit who gives these gifts to whom He wishes, He is the designer and the Author of Life: different gifts, different vocations, different services for the Great Mosaic He is Designing and Building-His Church which will be eternal in Heaven. They are not given just for us, but also for all. There should be no comparisons, no competition with others. Pride, ego and vanity need not apply.
All of this leads to the climax of the Liturgy of the Word, which is the Proclamation of the Holy Gospel from St. John chapter 2:1-11. This is the first of seventeen times St John will refer to Jesus’ “hour” in the Gospel. He certainly is referring to the “hour” when the climax of His ministry comes-Jesus’ Crucifixion. But, it also has liturgical ramifications in the earthly and Heavenly Church. When Jesus’ “hour” does come, He will supply an over abundance, an overflowing of the finest Heavenly wine. This is an illusion to the Divine Liturgy-the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, when Jesus feeds us with His abundant Body and Blood. It is also refers to the sacrificial offering of Christ to the Father and the sacramental gift of Christ to us, the Church and the Church to the Father. These aspects cannot be separated, one without the other is incomplete.
All this takes place at a Wedding Feast, which signifies the sacrificial gift of the husband and wife to each other and future children, as well as the sacramental gift of the Church and Christ to the couple. There is also another element that involves the marital act showing that the act done or shared in a state of grace is “sacramental” as well. When the act is sacrificially an act of loving self-giving it bears not only the fruit of children but more conjugal love. The opposite act of “using each other for one’s own benefit and lust” will de-sacramentalize, contracept and destroy the efficaciousness of the marital act and the Sacrament of Marriage itself. The “hour” Jesus is referring to have been reflected in the ancient Liturgies of St. James and St. Mark. Just as a self-giving sacrificial marital act is supposed to be a re-presentation or renewing of the marital covenant so will a false, counterfeit or contracepted act have the opposite affect on the marriage. JESUS WANTS US TO DRINK HIS BEAUTIFUL, PURE WINE NOT AN INFERIOR VERSION. As Mary said to the waiter and to us: “do what He tells you.”
Father Tom DeSimone was ordained a priest on May 13, 2006, the Feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. He most recently served as Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in White Plains, NY. He joins the staff of the Theology of the Body Institute on a three year leave from the Archdiocese of New York, to become the Institute’s first full time spiritual advisor and Director of Clergy Development.