Monday, January 6, 2014

Marriage and Epiphany

The newly-married Mr. and Mrs. Heller
Over the weekend I was blessed to celebrate the marriage of some very dear friends of mine. Also over the weekend much of the Church celebrated the great feast of the Epiphany, where the Christ child was revealed to the nations as the Magi from the East discovered him and adored him. Many of the liturgical texts for this feast also reference the wedding at Cana and Jesus' baptism by John, two major points when Jesus' unique role was revealed to the world. An epiphany, at the most basic level, is a revelation of something new. The proximity of my friends' marriage to the Epiphany led me to think and pray about how marriage reveals Jesus to us.

Through the Incarnation, Jesus becoming man, God wed himself to humanity in a new and unique way. God becoming man was this act that can never be undone, and permanently changed humanity for the better because now humanity is wed to God and has the chance for eternal life with him.

This beautiful marriage between God and humanity is reflected in the marriage between man and woman. Marriage was God's plan from the beginning, and marriage was the one blessing that survived man's original sin. Part of the nuptial blessing summarizes beautifully the symbolism and enduring nature of marriage:

O God, who consecrated the bond of Marriage
by so great a mystery
that in the wedding covenant you foreshadowed
the Sacrament of Christ and his Church;
O God, by whom woman is joined to man
and the companionship they had in the beginning
is endowed with the one blessing
not forfeited by original sin
nor washed away by the flood.

Mr. and Mrs. Rowland, married on June 15th, my first marriage
The way married couples commit to each other shows us the love of God. To see two people commit to each other for the rest of their lives, no matter the cost, no matter the risk, reveals to me what God committed to when he we himself to humanity. At my first wedding homily this summer, I told the couple that the face of God is made visible in their marriage. That's still something that I ponder routinely. So thank you, all married couples, your love and commitment is another Epiphany to me of God's love for the world.

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