Taken from the Homily given at the funeral of Fiona Perrem, Nazareth Community. With her husband Peter she guided and supported engaged and married couples for more than 40 years. She died suddenly on October 19, 2015. May she rest in peace.
That the Wedding at Cana takes place on the third day is very significant because it alludes to the day on which Jesus rose from the dead and it points us all, and especially the married couple, in the direction of the resurrection. It is an invitation to new life, to the joy that flows from Jesus himself, the joy of the Holy Trinity.
A couple who are married in the Lord become one body, one Icon of God, a window giving us a glimpse into God; one revelation of who God is and they live the priesthood of Christ in a way that is not lived by the ministerial priesthood – their love for each other is the supreme image of Christ’s love for the Church.
In giving birth to children they reflect the life-giving priesthood of God the Father. A Christian family in turn becomes an Icon and reflection of the family of the most Holy Trinity.
Marriage and family offer us the various expressions of the One Love of God – espousal, fatherhood, motherhood and the childhood – each of which is found in Sacred Scripture.
The Hidden life of the family of Nazareth is seen by St. Vincent Pallotti as one of the most precious aspects of the life of Jesus. The inner family life that is private and not public, a hidden interior life that feeds all that we are and do when we go out the door of our home to school, to work, to play and to minister. What goes on in the privacy of the home, especially a Christian home is very sacred.
Pope Francis in his homily at the conclusion of the Synod on the Family points out that faith cannot be scheduled. Family life, human life cannot be scheduled in the way that we often want or expect it to be. The thrust and tumble, agony and joy, the mess and the tidying, the unpredictability of our home all contribute to its sacredness. God is in the midst of it all with us.
In a special way the family table is sacred. I love going to visit families where there are children, to sit at table with them and go with the flow of a child’s natural, God-given way of being. It is certainly an image of what we will experience at heavenly banquet – the abundance spoken of in Isaiah, the experience of salvation, the wiping away of every tear and the consolation of every sorrow. The vibrancy and love of parents and children sitting down together is an Icon of the table of the Holy Trinity.
The marriage feast of Cana is a great expression of the table of the Lord in the Eucharist, table of the Word and sacrament, the source of all grace. It is a cenacle discipleship that has Jesus in all His fullness as its centre; a discipleship that includes the central role of the motherhood of Mary who, in the mystery of Divine Providence, is able to bring forward the hour that has not yet come.
It is a mystery which tells us that, in the compassionate gaze of God, the need of the human person, the needs of this one married couple somehow take precedence over the “hour” of God himself. In the life of Jesus everything happens at the proper “hour”, it is the time of fulfilment. Cana reveals the parental love, especially the maternal love that always puts the needs of the child before oneself.
We run out of wine, the joy runs out of our lives and we are left empty like the earthen jars, an emptiness that expresses something of the great longing of the human heart, an emptiness waiting to be filled.
On the word of Jesus each is filled with twenty, thirty gallons of water – an abundance. But water is not what is missing at the wedding, no matter how abundant it is. The wedding needs wine and they are given an abundance of it and not just any wine but better wine. The best!
And of course Jesus is not just giving new and better wine. He is giving the new life of the Spirit, the transforming life of the Spirit, the transformation that is needed in each particular, unique situation. This is the ‘Cana’ to which every marriage is invited, every family and every solitary person.
There is a sign that Jesus seeks to work in our lives and, if we let Him, then we will see His glory in the ordinary as well as in the miraculous. And by it our faith is strengthened and in believing we are set free.