“Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (John 2.1-11)
Today’s Gospel reading reflects upon the very first miracle of the New Testament: It tells of a wedding in Cana of Galilee, during which the wedding took a sudden turn: the wine ran out! Christ ordered people to fill the jars with water and miraculously turned the water into wine. As the Gospel says, Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in Him (John 2.11). Today’s Gospel reading is about the very first miracle of Christ, but more significantly, it is about the sacrament of matrimony, or marriage.
The sacrament of matrimony is a blissful new beginning. It opens up a new chapter in our lives where we start a new family and a new unity where we glorify God together with our spouse becoming united in fulfilment with God’s divine ordinances. However, the sacrament of matrimony is not merely just about this. Once, there was an orthodox couple that came to a priest and sought premarital counseling. The priest asked if they would still be able to endure their marriage together if something adverse were to happen to them; such as becoming handicapped, or even dealing with a terminal illness. The couple left the church perplexed. Why focus on such ills in the midst of the celebratory beginnings of a new union in Christ?
By turning the water into wine, Christ wished to show us that the sacrament of matrimony is a holy order where, by the grace of God, the couple solves their challenges and rejoices in this temporal life by desiring to become worthy of the unfading crowns in heaven. The sacrament of matrimony, then, is the portent of the heavenly marriage, where the Bridegroom is Christ and those who enter and inherit the Kingdom are the brides of God. With today’s miracle, Christ also wishes to show us that the heavenly crown never fades away. Whether we are married or not in this life, we all undoubtedly can become the brides of the heavenly Bridegroom.
Just as the heavenly Bridegroom and his Bride, Christ, and the Church are always in complete union, so also our lives need to be formed in this spirit. Being the head of the Church, Christ never neglects the Church, but always takes care of it. The proof of this is all around us and also found in the annals of history. Almost two thousand years ago, the Immortal Bridegroom died by shedding His blood for His Church, for us. During marriage, we are given the divine order to love each other as if we die for one another. To die for one another means to cherish our God-given love by not letting challenges overwhelm our love, hearts and minds; often times we fall into the trap of blaming one another when things don’t go our way. But by taking the position of a humble Christian, who understands the trials and tribulations of this life and chooses to forgive. By not falling into confusion and by trusting God and His love; this is how we attain the heavenly crown. This is why today, Christ turned the water into wine, to show us that two distinct people — husband and wife — may become one through marriage and at the same time be united with God. Christ performed this miracle for all of us, married or not. He calls each and every one of us to be his brides as a member of His Church.
Having this mentality changes our lives, and the heavenly Bridegroom Christ, is always with us, to help ease our pain and comfort us in times of despair. In today’s reading, Christ did something impossible for human abilities but not impossible for Himself, he turned water into wine! And so He does to all who believes in Him, married or not. The couple that left the church after facing a very challenging and dubious question about dealing with the roughest patches life can offer during married life, came back after six months. They found that the sacrament of matrimony is not solely rooted in the carnal backdrop that we as human beings can only see, but extends beyond that realm and is rooted in sharing the love of God and confronting our daily difficulties with a numinous spirit given to us by God. They understood that the crown of humility is about faithfulness towards God because in each one of us, God dwells. They realized that marriage is an opportunity to live in Christ by sharing their mutual love with each other. They came back to receive the crown that we actually use and place on the heads of the wedded during our Armenian Orthodox marriage sacrament, to have a mutual love, to share and rejoice in their life together because each moment of our lives is an opportunity to take one step closer toward the crown that matters the most, the heavenly crown, whereby we will be in bliss for eternity. In the face of this, the ills and trials and tribulations of this world seem much more manageable.
Today, as we have received Holy Communion, we have also received some of the sweet wine similar to that which Christ blessed. As we do this we all became united with Christ, either married or not. Christ blessed the wedding at Cana to show us that one day, we will all be united with Him in Heaven. We all ask God to sweeten our lives with His bountiful beneficence, that we all live virtuously and blamelessly in this world into a ripe old age and become worthy of God’s heavenly kingdom and of the unfading crown. As you continue to come to this sanctuary every Sunday and receive Holy Communion, I ask you always to pray to God for making us worthy of the heavenly marriage where we all will be crowned with the unfading crown which never fades away. Amen.