Above: A Wedding in Cana: my sister Jill and her husband Rusty, married in the Wedding Church at Cana of Galilee, Tuesday, October 18, 2011. Photo courtesy of Stephen Ray, their pilgrimage guide, online at Catholic-Convert.com.
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), 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 in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.
My parents, on the other hand, had met Rusty and seemed to like what they saw. That helped, especially because Dad has a knack for gauging people. Still, it was difficult to show up at Easter as the only close family member who hadn’t meant this man — and as the person (quite frankly) who was most inclined to not like him. I had my guard and filters up, but he came through clean: a genuinely nice guy who likes good music, a Catholic convert who enjoys talking about his faith, a veteran of the Navy and other life battles who loves his young son and his aging parents, and a good man who did not hesitate to say that he would gladly spend his life working hard to treat my sister right and to get her to Heaven.
They told us that weekend that they were planning to marry, although they weren’t yet engaged. Then they told us they planned to do it at the church in Cana, in the Holy Land, on a pilgrimage to learn more about their faith. We were amazed. How much more different could this possibly be from her first wedding? How far had my sister journeyed, in such a short time?
“Do whatever he tells you” — these words from Our Blessed Mother from the Gospel account of the miraculous wedding at Cana were a statement of faith in her son, that, although He insisted it was not yet his time, He would not allow a need to go unmet for God’s faithful — that from misfortune he would work wonders in order to manifest God’s love in our lives. He did it again and again during his ministry, and again in the most profound way on the cross on Calvary.
And again yesterday, at another wedding in Cana.
Before she left, Jill told me she was thinking of ways she could have her closest family and friends with her on her wedding day: a family rosary, a lucky coin, that sort of thing. From Jodi and me and our family, she asked that I write a prayer for them to meditate upon.
I was overwhelmed. I had planned to write a letter, but the idea that I could add something substantive to this sacrament when the very location was a homily and blessing seemed like more than I could possibly deliver. I wrote a letter that said as much, then asked that, the night before their wedding or the morning of, they consider doing the following:
- First, ask the priest to hear your confessions, that your hearts may be pure and open to God’s graces.
- Second, read the only scripture that ever mattered to me at the time of our marriage (and the only detail of our wedding I insisted upon): Tobit 8:4-9.
- Finally (not that the prayer of Tobiah and Sarah needs any improvement or addition), please share the following as our prayer for you both:
Another friend of ours tells a story related to the biblical account of the wedding at Cana, in which we imagine ourselves as the servants, who, on the word of a wedding guest — a poor but faithful mother from Nazareth — and the orders of her son, also a guest in the house, lug six massive crocks to the city well, carrying back, on foot, more than a hundred gallons of water for who knows what purpose. As a result, they got to see Christ’s first miracle…
When I texted Jill later in the day yesterday and told her how I was with her in prayer, she agreed, and closed her reply with, “Thank you, Jim and Jodi, for leading the way…”
Sister, we were just carrying the water.