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The wedding feast of the Lamb

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

The Lord performs his first sign during a wedding feast in Cana. This sign speaks to us of the wedding feast of the Lamb, the Redemptive work Christ realizes for us and in us.

Sacred Scripture often has recourse to images from marriage to describe the love of God, since the love of husband and wife is, undoubtedly, the most exalted form of human love. St. Paul inverts the metaphor. In the letter to the Ephesians, he presents the love of Christ and the Church as an image of human marriage. That is why, the reading for this Sunday is a good opportunity to reflect on the meaning of marriage.

St. John Paul II taught in Familiaris Consortio that “the communion between God and His people finds its definitive fulfillment in Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom who loves and gives Himself as the Savior of humanity, uniting it to Himself as His body.

He reveals the original truth of marriage, the truth of the “beginning,” and freeing man from his hardness of heart, He makes man capable of realizing this truth in its entirety.

This revelation reaches its definitive fullness in the gift of love which the Word of God makes to humanity in assuming a human nature, and in the sacrifice which Jesus Christ makes of Himself on the Cross for His bride, the Church. In this sacrifice there is entirely revealed that plan which God has imprinted on the humanity of man and woman since their creation; the marriage of baptized persons thus becomes a real symbol of that new and eternal covenant sanctioned in the blood of Christ. The Spirit which the Lord pours forth gives a new heart and renders man and woman capable of loving one another as Christ has loved us. Conjugal love reaches that fullness to which it is interiorly ordained, conjugal charity, which is the proper and specific way in which the spouses participate in and are called to live the very charity of Christ who gave Himself on the Cross…

Receiving and meditating faithfully on the word of God, the Church has solemnly taught and continues to teach that the marriage of the baptized is one of the seven sacraments of the New Covenant.

Indeed, by means of baptism, man and woman are definitively placed within the new and eternal covenant, in the spousal covenant of Christ with the Church. And it is because of this indestructible insertion that the intimate community of conjugal life and love, founded by the Creator,[31] is elevated and assumed into the spousal charity of Christ, sustained and enriched by His redeeming power.

By virtue of the sacramentality of their marriage, spouses are bound to one another in the most profoundly indissoluble manner. Their belonging to each other is the real representation, by means of the sacramental sign, of the very relationship of Christ with the Church.

Spouses are therefore the permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross; they are for one another and for the children witnesses to the salvation in which the sacrament makes them sharers. Of this salvation event marriage, like every sacrament, is a memorial, actuation and prophecy: “As a memorial, the sacrament gives them the grace and duty of commemorating the great works of God and of bearing witness to them before their children. As actuation, it gives them the grace and duty of putting into practice in the present, towards each other and their children, the demands of a love which forgives and redeems. As prophecy, it gives them the grace and duty of living and bearing witness to the hope of the future encounter with Christ.”

Like each of the seven sacraments, so also marriage is a real symbol of the event of salvation, but in its own way. “The spouses participate in it as spouses, together, as a couple, so that the first and immediate effect of marriage is not supernatural grace itself, but the Christian conjugal bond, a typically Christian communion of two persons because it represents the mystery of Christ’s incarnation and the mystery of His covenant. The content of participation in Christ’s life is also specific: conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter- appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, the unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all-natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values.”

Pope Francis teaches us in Amoris Laetitia that “Jesus, “in speaking of God’s original plan for man and woman, reaffirmed the indissoluble union between them, even stating that ‘it was for your hardness of heart that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so’. The indissolubility of marriage – ‘what God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ – should not be viewed as a ‘yoke’ imposed on humanity, but as a ‘gift’ granted to those who are joined in marriage… God’s indulgent love always accompanies our human journey; through grace, it heals and transforms hardened hearts, leading them back to the beginning through the way of the cross. The Gospels clearly present the example of Jesus who… proclaimed the meaning of marriage as the fullness of revelation that restores God’s original plan…”

“The example of Jesus is a paradigm for the Church… He began his public ministry with the miracle at the wedding feast of Cana. He shared in everyday moments of friendship with the family of Lazarus and his sisters and with the family of Peter. He sympathized with grieving parents and restored their children to life. In this way he demonstrated the true meaning of mercy, which entails the restoration of the covenant. This is clear from his conversations with the Samaritan woman and with the woman found in adultery, where the consciousness of sin is awakened by an encounter with Jesus’ gratuitous love” …

“The covenant of love and fidelity lived by the Holy Family of Nazareth illuminates the principle which gives shape to every family and enables it better to face the vicissitudes of life and history. On this basis, every family, despite its weaknesses, can become a light in the darkness of the world. ‘Nazareth teaches us the meaning of family life, its loving communion, its simple and austere beauty, its sacred and inviolable character. May it teach how sweet and irreplaceable is its training, how fundamental and incomparable its role in the social order.’”

Fr. Roberto M. Cid