for Sunday, January 16, 2022
Although the Christmas season is over and we are in the Ordinary Time of the
year, today's Gospel once more returns us to the Epiphany. There are actually three
epiphanies of the Lord. The Orthodox and Byzantine Churches celebrate them all
together on the same day. The Roman Catholic Church separates them. So we had
the wise men two weeks ago, and the Baptism of the Lord last week. During the year
C readings, that we are now in, the third Epiphany, the turning of water to wine at
Cana, is celebrated this week. This is seen by the Church as an epiphany because it
is the first time that Jesus Himself manifested His divinity to His disciples. The Gospel
of John calls it the first of His signs.
When we Catholics use the term Cana, we are usually referring to marriage.
Marriage preparation programs are often referred to by many as Pre-Cana programs.
Jesus was present at a wedding celebration at Cana in Galilee. We Catholics
believe that the Lord is present in the celebration and in the living of the sacrament of
marriage. The purpose of the Pre-Cana meetings, be they conferences, meetings with
married couples, or as we do here at St. Ignatius, meetings with a priest, the purpose
of Pre-Cana preparation is to help the couple prepare for the sacrament, prepare for
the Real Presence of the Lord in their marriage uniting His Love to their love for each
Actually, the preparation for marriage begins many years
before the bride and groom meet. The child, teen or young adult who nurtures his or
her relationship with Christ is preparing for a marriage centered on Christ. He, she, is
preparing for the sacrament of marriage. Many young people pray for their future
husband or wife, and pray that they recognize this person when they come into their
lives. They look for someone with whom they can pray for the rest of their lives. They
look for someone with whom they can celebrate life in every aspect of life, physical,
emotional, and, particularly, spiritual. They must not choose someone based solely on
that person's physical qualities. Yes, chemistry is important, but the physical must be
united to emotional support, and, even more important, infinitely more important, to the
ability to share the spiritual life.
Most people spend many years in school preparing for their careers. That is
why they go to college, or take special courses. This is good. But the young need to
spend time and energy preparing for their lives with Christ. If Christ calls them to Him
through another person, they will be ready for Him. For the vocation to the sacrament
of marriage is the call to Christ through their husband or wife. Then, if so blessed, the
vocation to the sacrament of marriage will flow through the natural result of their
physical and spiritual love, their children, their love for Christ and each other, loving
them back. As parents, they will seek new ways to guide their children to the Lord. At
the same time, they will be strengthening the Kingdom of God by increasing the
number of committed Catholics.
At the wedding feast of Cana Jesus turned water into wine. This was the
beginning of the hour, the time of the Lord's passion, death and resurrection. Events
would now rush towards that evening when instead of changing water into wine, Jesus
would change wine into His Blood, Holy Thursday. Events would rush to that afternoon
when the Body and Blood of the Lord would be sacrificed on the cross, Good Friday.
Events would rush to that morning when all would be offered the New Life of Lord,
Easter Sunday. This is the Lord's hour, his time to redeem us.
The changing of water into wine, the beginning of the hour, teaches us about
sacrifice. Those marriages that seek the Lord as their Center are seeking to love as
He loved, to love with a sacrificial love. The husband must put his wife before himself.
The wife must put her husband before herself. The needs of their children must come
before the needs of the parents. This is sacrificial love, expressed countless times in
the daily routine of the Catholic family.
All Christians are called to sacrificial love whether this love is expressed within a
marriage or within the life of the committed Catholic single. The great gift of marriage
is that the married are continually challenged with ways to love sacrificially. Occasions
present themselves daily whether it is doing the shopping or laundry, changing the
baby, getting the child to soccer or dance, working harder to provide better, taking the
cars in for an oil change, or simply, getting off the couch to play with the kids. All are
expressions of sacrificial love which are the routine of marriage. All are ways of living
the sacrament of marriage.
To you who are looking to marry someday, prepare yourselves by nurturing the
Presence of the Lord in your lives. Seek out that person with whom you can pray.
Yes, chemistry may draw you to many cute guys or beautiful girls, but do not be
shallow. Allow the Presence of the Lord to draw you to a person with whom you can
journey to Christ.
And to all of you who are married: Do not ever stop loving. Yes, there are days
or occasions when your spouse is not at his or her best and there are days and
occasions when you might not behave your best. But never give up on yourselves or
on each other. Seek the sacrament of penance, confession, not just to have your sins
forgiven but to strengthen your marriage. When I hear people confess that they have
been selfish with their spouse, or that they have not been as understanding as they
should have been, or that they spoke harsh words to their spouse, or any sin that might
lead to a weakening of their marriage, I know they are really in a good marriage. They
are putting up a fight with themselves to be in an even better marriage.
Today, as we remember the presence of the Lord at the wedding feast of Cana,
we pray that all of our married couples may celebrate the Presence of Christ in the little
churches that are their Catholic homes.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Isaiah 62.1-5
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12.4-11
Gospel: John 2.1-12
This material is used with permission of its author, Rev. Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino, Diocese of St. Petersburg, FL. Visit his
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