By Deacon Roger Carr-Jones
Marriage & Family Life Coordinator
Over the last few weeks, it has been a real joy to hear different voices sharing their insights into the ways in which we can affirm and support couples and families during the lockdown. It has also brought home how closely interconnected we all are and how, despite the challenges, we discover the ways in which Christ accompanies us along the journey. It is worth reminding ourselves that the sacramental character of marriage helps us to build on the positives, recognise where healing is required on the negatives and become aware that Christ will give us that helping hand when we ask.
At the moment life is a little topsy-turvy. However, when we venture outside the known boundaries there are times when we are surprised by what we have learnt, what we can let go of and where our journey of married love will take us. The narrative of marriage is not fixed and is a little like our encounter with scripture at this time: full of surprises! We hear and see things in a different way as the set boundaries have become more fluid and our need to express our inner concerns and worries has become a strength that binds us more closely.
I was recently reflecting on the Marriage Feast of Cana, a text that is so familiar especially in sessions for marriage preparation and one which now has a new depth. It reminds me how we can be so comfortable with a passage and indeed married life that we hear the words but do not always grasp the content and meaning. Noticing is important. At the moment we are so busy just keeping things going, balancing different needs and commitments that we might feel that we have little time to just be still and listen.
If so, take a moment to stop and reflect using the Wedding Feast of Cana as your backdrop. Backdrops are necessary for framing the main event and often reveal to us things that we overlooked in the main story. The background of our marriage or family life sets the scene for other events.
Just imagine how chaotic and busy things must have been for the family and party organizers at the Wedding Feast of Cana. Indeed, I am sure we can all think of family occasions where we have worked so hard to make things a success that we ourselves never quite get the chance to be involved in the fun. Our focus is so often on what we know needs to be done that when a problem gets in the way we can almost feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. Perhaps that is how we feel sometimes during this lockdown, when simple obstacles can be the catalyst for a disagreement. Try not to worry but hold in your mind Mary’s action at the Wedding Feast.
Mary clearly noticed the panic of the steward and his attendants and recognised the implications for the well-being of the couple. In Judaism, wine is a symbol of God’s love, and the absence of wine at the wedding feast would have been interpreted by the guests as a negative omen for the couple’s future happiness. If we notice a problem that could upset our relationship as a couple and family, we can address it, or ignore it. Often, when we choose the latter the problems then grow. We need to notice these movements in our lives and follow the example of Mary, who noticed the distress in the background of the wedding feast and acted.
Mary as the mother recognized the need and simply asked her son, Jesus, to help out. This is an example that we could perhaps try more often than we may do. If we stop and ask Jesus for help, we may find that the problem changes and new opportunities arise. I imagine Jesus smiling when his mother makes her request. He smiles at us to because he sees beyond the drama at the front of the scene and into the backdrop of our hearts and unexpressed needs.
The changing of the water into wine provided more than the whole wedding party needed. It was a sign and symbol of the limitless love that God pours out on us. Perhaps you have had little God moments during lockdown, when in amongst the messiness you have felt God’s presence. As we know, Our Lord is always there but in times of stress he reveals himself more clearly in subtle and gentle ways. Have you noticed this and tasted the wholesome flavour of the Good Wine that he offers to us?
For me I have tasted that wine in the stronger connections made within my family, making real time to listen to them, to accompany them on their journey and indeed to have the humility to share my own worries and concerns at this time.
What have we discovered on this new journey?
What has surprised us?
How have we, like Mary, helped, or been helped by our family and friends?
What would be the moments you would like to share and reflect upon from this time of living in a different way?
What is it that we need to ask the Lord to help us with in the coming days?. Do we need to be refreshed and revived by the wine that Jesus offers us: if so, ask Mary to intercede for us and place into her arms our innermost needs and fears. Perhaps it might be to simply ask the Lord to help us see the road ahead, to make the right decisions for this moment in time and to help us to see what supplies of fine wine, of God’s love, we need for the future.
Now, simply raise a glass of wine and give thanks for the surprises and moments of joy!