Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Marriage Destroyed, Repaired and Restored

Homily from the 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year C

This couple I know got married a while back.  They were the perfect couple.  

When he first saw her, he said, “This is the girl of my dreams.  There is no one else for me.”  They fell completely in love and got married.  In the beginning, everything was perfect.  They loved and respected each other completely.  They shared everything.  They had a great relationship with God.  They were the perfect couple living in a perfect world.

Then things went sour.  Their communication with one another started to fall apart.  As did their communication with God.  Their attention turned to material things.  They started hiding things from one another.  Indeed, they started hiding themselves, their own lives from one another.  The perfect couple and the perfect world fell apart.

However, a few years after the breakup, this couple’s family intervened.  Specifically, their mother and son, stepped into the picture to patch things up.  Mom noticed right away, as a mother would, how things weren’t as they once were.  She saw that the joy this couple once had had now run out.  And being a wise mother, she knew she couldn’t fix this on her own, she didn’t have the power to do so.  So she called the son for help and he came to the rescue.

You know the names of the perfect couple whose marriage went sour.  Their names are Adam & Eve.  In the beginning, everything was perfect.  Until they decided they knew better than God.  Then their world (and ours) came tumbling down.  And their marriage (and ours) came tumbling down.

And you know the names of the mother and son who intervened.  Their names are Mary and Jesus.  At Cana, Mary saw that the couple’s wine had run out.  They had lost their joy.  And she knew, she didn’t have the power to fix what had gone wrong.  However, she knew better than anyone else who to go to.  So she called her son for help and Jesus came to the rescue.

However, Jesus’ rescue mission didn’t consist merely of changing water into wine.  And his rescue mission didn’t consist merely of repairing the marriage of Adam and Eve.  Rather, his rescue mission restored our marriage.  Our marriage with God the Father.

Today’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah says, “As a young man married a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.”

God wants to marry us.  God is our Builder.  He is the bridegroom and we are the bride.  He wants an indissoluble union with us.  He freely chooses to enter into a covenant with us and he invites us to freely choose to enter that covenant with Him.  He is faithful to us and he wants us to be faithful to him.  And he wants our union with him to be fruitful.

So he sent us His Son, Jesus, and gave him to our Mother, Mary, so that the two of them, together, could unravel and reverse the destruction wrought by Adam and Eve in Eden.

Whereas, Eve lead Adam to take of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil;  Mary, the New Eve, lead Jesus, the New Adam, to change water into the fruit of the vine.

Whereas, Adam and Eve reached for the fruit from the branch of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; Jesus, the New Adam, reached for the branches of the Tree of Life, the Cross, and allowed his outstretched arms to be nailed to it.

Whereas, God the Father cast Adam into a deep sleep and from his open side took a rib and formed it into his bride, Eve; God the Father cast Jesus, the New Adam, into the deep sleep of death and from his open side brought forth his bride, the Church, through the blood and water, signs of the Eucharist and Baptism, that poured from his heart

Whereas Adam and Eve said “no” to God’s will through their disobedience; Mary, the New Eve, said “yes” when the angel Gabriel announced it was God’s will that she be the mother of Jesus.  And Jesus, the New Adam, said “yes” to God’s will that he give his life as a ransom for many.

Jesus calls Mary “woman” at Cana, saying that his hour had not yet come.  When his hour at last had come when he was nailed to his cross, he again calls Mary “woman” when she entrusts him to the Apostle John.  He calls her “woman” not out of disrespect, but because Mary is the new woman, she is the model of Mother Church.  And so the two times, Jesus calls Mary “woman” are two weddings: the wedding at Cana which foreshadows the wedding at Calvary, when Christ unites himself to his bride, the Church, by doing what all spouses should do for each other: hand their lives over to each other.

From the Cross, God “marry’s” us.  The wedding at Eden was a marriage destroyed.  The wedding at Cana was a marriage repaired.  And the wedding at Calvary is a marriage restored.

I want to conclude by recommending two suggestions for your marriage:
First, if you are a single person, still discerning marriage (and all are called to a marriage of some kind: either marriage to a husband or wife, to the Church as a priest, to Christ as a religious sister or brother, or to Christ and his people as a generous single person) if you are still discerning your vocation: pray for your future spouse every day.

You may not even know who they are.  You may not know what they’re doing at this precise moment.  But someday, you will meet them.  And when you get down on your knees and ask them to marry you, when they say “yes,” you can say to them,  “I have been praying for you every day for the last however many years.  I didn’t even know you then.  But I prayed just for you and just for this moment.”  

They will already love you if they’re saying “yes” to your proposal.  Think for a moment how much more they’ll fall in love with you when they learn you prayed for them for years before you even met.

And second, if you are already married and you and your spouse look more like Adam and Eve after the Fall in Eden than you do the newlywed couple at Cana, ask for some family intervention.  Ask your mother, Mary, and the Son, Jesus for help.  One place you’ll find them for sure, is here in the Church through the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.

Click here to go to Third Option.
Another is through “Third Option.”  “Third Option” is an on-going group program to build better marriages.  It’s designed for all married couples and can be used for marriage enrichment or crisis intervention.  

When couples struggle they’ll say they’ve tried everything.  What they usually means is they tried the same two extreme options over and over: they’ve either stuffed their anger or attacked with it.  The “Third Option” is the healthy middle ground that teaches relationship skills such as handling anger constructively, ending the blame game, understanding expectations, forgiveness, rebuilding trust and control issues.

Our group meets twice a month at an off-campus location to provide complete confidentiality.
There are brochures in the gathering space and next to the exit by the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.  Pick one up. Or, if you don’t wish someone to see you picking it up, call our office and ask to speak to a priest.  You don’t have to say why to the secretary.  And the priest will help you.

It’s ironic: Every marriage is Eden in the beginning.  Everything’s perfect.  But ironically, it doesn’t always feel like paradise.  Eden after all is the place where the first marriage was destroyed.

And every marriage is Calvary.  There are moments of pain and crucifixion.  But ironically, Calvary is the place where our marriages with God and with our spouse are restored.

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