the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee;
and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called,
and his disciples, to the marriage.
season we have brought before us in our readings the revealing
or manifestation of God in Jesus Christ. And we do this as we
follow along Jesus’ earthly life – an infant receiving kings,
last week as a child in the Temple and today as an adult
performing his first miracle. As we come to know Jesus, we come
to know his perfect humanity – and then we come to know Him as
fully God. And as each of us receive Jesus there becomes
possible an epiphany or manifestation of God in of us.
we began to know God in the infant Jesus – the divine Son of God
– who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, the born of the Virgin
Mary – Jesus, who makes possible our new birth as sons and
daughters of God by adoption and grace. And so, says St. Paul,
thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an
heir of God, through Christ. The quality of our relation to
God changes. There is a new confidence in our status as
children. The quality of our love is transformed – we have a
new loyalty to God, a filial piety, our obedience is not merely
out of duty but out of love, and we become heirs of the divine
But you and
I know that in earthly love, there is an element in our parents
love and our love for our parents that is still missing. We
begin to know this in our teens. The Christian fulfillment of
that love is marriage.
There is a different kind of intensity of love, a complementary
love, expressed in bodily union, that is different in its
quality than filial piety. I’m speaking of eros, of romantic
love, and I have to say something about it because I’ve just
been to a seminar on Dante’s Divine Comedy!
We all know something of this love and its intensity as we
become adults – the infatuation, a continual thinking upon the
beloved, the joy and perhaps terror of being in the loved one’s
presence, a warming of the heart to a fiery love, inspiring one
to virtue, we want to be and are inspired by love to become
better people in the presence of our beloved. There is a
response of hope in the soul when the beloved looks upon us, we
exist (!), and of joy when the beloved returns a smile - that we
are found pleasing in the beloved's sight.
We first came to understand our love for God as our heavenly
Father – bringing a certain confidence, making us dutiful,
loyal, obedient for all the right reasons. Last week we met
Christ in the Temple as an adolescent – being about His
Father’s business. But then, how do we deal with this
apparently more intense love between adults, between a man
and a woman? Doesn’t this love, eros, seem greater than the
other – and if so, is this where we should direct our attention?
is there any relation between this love and the love of God?
Our Gospel today is about a marriage:
says, AND the third day (also the day of our Lord’s
resurrection) there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and
the mother of Jesus was there. And both Jesus was called, and
his disciples, to the marriage.
In the Old Testament, there is a progressive revelation of the
character of the love of God for us and the character of that
love returned by a faithful soul. We see eros explicitly
for the first time perhaps in the wisdom books. The Song of
Songs appears at first as erotic love poetry celebrating earthly
love between a man and a woman because the word “God” is never
used – yet Jewish interpreters and the whole Christian tradition
have always understood it as pointing to the love between God
and the human soul. In another of the wisdom books, Solomon is
described as taking Lady Wisdom, a feminine image of the Son, as
his bride (Wisdom of Solomon 7-8). And God speaks frequently
through the Prophets describing His love of Israel, his people,
in the language of bridegroom and bride [e.g. Isa 54; Jer 3;
Ezek 16, Hosea] - idolatry is sometimes described as adultery. The
Messianic age promises the bringing about of this union of God
and His people, a union of the heavenly and the earthly, a
Jesus reveals right at the beginning of his earthly ministry, by
this first miracle at the marriage at Cana, that He is the
Messiah and that the Messianic Age is upon us.
The character of our love for God is transformed by our
encounter with, by our being mystically joined to Christ, to
divine Wisdom. Our love for God has a new character through
Christ – there is a warming of our hearts, an infatuation, a
continual thinking upon and enjoying being in God’s presence.
The peace that passes between spouses who love each other, the
rest that they know in their love for one another, this peace
can be known by us and is intended to be known by us in our
union with God and enjoyed. The earthly love between
spouses is a great gift in itself, it also points to the
character of the heavenly. Through Christ there is a union of
the heavenly and the earthly.
The fruit of this union, this mystical marriage, is the adorning
of our souls with grace – natural gifts become supernatural -
water becoming the best wine.
says in today’s Epistle: Having then gifts differing
according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy,
let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or
ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth,
on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that
giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with
diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
Through our marriage union with the divine, in Christ, our
natural gifts are raised up. St. Paul says, if we have the
natural gift of foresight, or of ministry, or of teaching, or of
leadership, or a generous spirit – all of these things can
become moments through which the divine love is manifested in
It is not just in great moments of inspiration – poetry such as
Dante’s Divine Comedy remembered 700 years later or some other
great work of art or science that is never forgotten. But
in small things the divine is revealed in us and to the world:
a mother taking delight in her child’s play [Williams]; St. Paul
says, simply being humble before others in our daily lives; a
moment by moment turning from evil and cleaving to what is good;
doing our chosen work, but doing it with diligence; being
patient in the midst of suffering is a sign of the divine at
work in us; being given to hospitality; loving even those who
hate us. We can all do these things, these supernatural things,
through our union with Christ.
Every situation, every encounter with another becomes a moment
when the divine can shine forth – as it did that day in Cana,
when a lack of wine – a possible embarrassment for the host, or
a reason for less joy in the celebration of an earthly marriage
– became a moment filled with eternal significance.
What makes possible this new union of heaven and earth is
recalled and set before our eyes in the Holy Communion –
Christ’s passion and death, poured out in abundance in a figure
on that wedding day, is poured out for each one of us here
Sunday by Sunday – Christ’s Body broken, His Blood shed – the
best wine. Here is the means given by our Lord for the
reconciliation of heavenly and earthly loves, from here flows
the peace that passes all understanding.
Almighty and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in
heaven and earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of thy
people, and grant us thy peace all the days of our life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect of the day]