Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Marriage Readings" as read by the Single Girl

This Sunday is the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. I had a student ask me why this Sunday is already the "2nd Sunday" if The Baptism of the Lord was technically the end of the Christmas Season. He is also that kid that raises his hand way too much, but I honestly wasn't totally sure of the answer. Only thing I could come up with is that we've had a full week of Ordinary Time already? Maybe? Anyone know?

In my reading of the readings for this Sunday- The 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time- I, single girl that I am, with all of the (other people's) weddings under my belt, I was, of course, drawn to the fact that the first readings and Gospel have images of marriage and weddings in them.

From Isaiah:

"No more shall people call you “Forsaken, “
or your land “Desolate, “
but you shall be called “My Delight, “
and your land “Espoused.”
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you."

And the Gospel reading is The Wedding of Cana found in John where Christ performs is first public miracle:

"the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
“Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now.”
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him."

One of the pros and one of the cons of working in ministry is that my prayer and work often overlap, as you've heard me say time and time again. This week, my faculty department colleagues and I had a meeting and we reflected on this Sunday's Gospel to begin our meeting. The priest who was joining us noted the multiple uses of marriage imagery throughout the Bible. Which led me to think today in prayer: "Why?" Why all the images of weddings and marriage in Scripture? As if I haven't been surrounded by weddings enough??

This would, I think, be an excellent thesis or research topic- the marriage imagery in the Bible- but we all know I am up to my ears in catechetical documents right now. (No, but seriously):

Three separate piles of books and binders strewn across my bedroom. A sad, sad state of affairs...

But I did think about the immediate connections that could be made to Christ, His Church, and the Sacrament of Marriage.

(A COMPLETE aside which I know you find SHOCKING coming from me and the way I write, but since I *am* currently up to my ears in catechetical documents, but also meditating on this Sunday's readings, I couldn't help but notice that in my reading of the first National Catechetical Directory- Sharing the Light of Faith- the document uses "Mysteries" to describe the Sacraments of Initiation, Sacraments of Healing, etc. So for example, Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are referred to as "Mysteries of Initiation" which I kind of liked...Sacraments ARE Mysteries!)

In the first reading, God is indicating that he will be taking Israel and His people and "espousing" Himself to them-committing Himself to them through Christ- for better, for worse, etc. I've mentioned before that our Baptismal vows are just as important and binding as wedding vows, yet somehow, we take both for granted.

And it is no coincidence that Christ performs his first miracle at a wedding, for it does set the stage for his covenant with us. A covenant is a sacred bond or agreement- exactly what is made in marriage. In my Old Testament course, we discuss all the names that change (Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah) to indicate their new covenant or bond with God. We also use name changes to show a covenant in our modern world even today.

Weddings, of course, are also parties and feasts which indicate a heavenly feast or banquet to come, but today I was particularly struck by the indication of God's marriage or covenant with us; His promises to us. I think we can all agree that we get way too caught up in the party sometimes, instead of the life-long commitment and promises being made for a lifetime at a wedding!

In the first reading from Isaiah, there is the image of virginity, too- a couple giving their complete selves to one another. I believe this mimics the complete union that God desires from our us- our whole selves- as He also gives everything, including Salvation through His Son, to us.

Promises, Union, Vows...this is what marriage, and also life in the Church, is about. I don't exactly like the idea of being "forsaken" and "desolate" without this espousal, but placed within the context of Christ, we are indeed these things without Him.

So I am grateful for His promises and His perfect faithfulness...a pretty cool thing to think about in this "Ordinary" time.


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