Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
of Unity Octave
By way of explanation I should
tell you that the Mass today celebrates the last of three events
associated with the Epiphany. "Epiphany" means "manifestation" in
Greek. The three events are our Lord's manifestation to the shepherds
and the Wise Men, which we celebrated on the 6th; His Baptism in the
Jordan River, celebrated on the 13th; and, today, the working of His
first miracle at the wedding in Cana of Galilee.
Some years ago I was asked to
officiate at the wedding of a close friend in Saint Petersburg, over on
the west coast of Florida. I offered to celebrate a nuptial Mass for
them, but my friend Michael didn't think that was a good idea. Kay, the
bride was a Baptist, as were most of her family, and Michael was a
convert to Catholicism, with many of his friends and relatives
Protestants. The wedding was to be in the evening, followed by a
reception in the church hall, and he didn't think that too many of the
guests would be comfortable, even if the Mass were in English.
So that morning I offered Mass
in the chapel (which was in my home at the time) for the good intentions
of the bridal couple. The Mass was one of those Saturday Masses of our
Lady—In this case the Saturday before the last Sunday of August—Our Lady
Health of the Sick, and I was very pleasantly surprised that the Gospel
of that Mass was word for word what we read this morning about the
wedding feast at Cana.
That seemed very auspicious for the bridal couple. Too bad they
couldn't have been there for the Mass.
I flew to Saint Petersburg that
afternoon. That was back in the Air Florida days, when one could fly
direct. During the flight I thought about the sermon I would give at
the wedding. There is one in the Roman Ritual that is the Church's
stock sermon for weddings, and I had intended to use it. It is called
the “Exhortation before Marriage,” and it sounds a little officious, but
it does a good job of explaining the responsibilities of marriage. But
now, at this late time, I was thinking that something more personal
would be appropriate. But very soon we were on the ground, and
Michael's brother was whisking me off to the church and our conversation
turned to other matters.
I spent a few moments in
conversation with the priests of the church, and very soon it was time
for the wedding. The “Exhortation” comes almost immediately at the
beginning of the ceremony, preceded only by the usual invocations and a
I was all set to read the
Exhortation from the book, but something moved me to mention that I had
offered Mass for the bridal couple that morning ... and then the words
began to flow. Perhaps it was not just a coincidence that the Gospel
that morning described that wedding some two thousand years before.
Perhaps it was a lesson for all married couples to follow. The most
obvious thing being that the bridal couple at Cana had invited Jesus
Christ to their wedding. What could be more beneficial to a marriage
than including the Author of Life among the guests? What better than
inviting the one who planned from the beginning of human existence that
“a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and
they shall be two in one flesh”?
What would be more prudent—through hard times or good—than to have a
friend who could literally turn water into wine? Such a marriage would
want for nothing.
But, perhaps, more important
than the miracle itself was the understanding of how that miracle came
to be. It wasn’t that our Lord went back to get a refill, with His cup
in His hand, only to be met with a shrug of the shoulders from the chief
steward. Nor did the bride or bridegroom approach Him with a request.
No, it was the Mother of Jesus,
whom we call “the Blessed Virgin Mary” who was concerned with what might
be an embarrassment to the young couple, who was on the lookout for
their predicament. Nobody asked her—it was in her nature to care for
other’s needs, and she knew the economic realities of life in Galilee.
And, what did Mary do? She
simply put the problem before her Son: “They have no wine.” She didn’t
tell Him what to do or how to do it. She didn’t point to the
stone water jars, and she didn’t tell Him “I’ll bet a bright lad
like you could turn them into wine.” All she said was: “They have no
Jesus appeared to resist:
“Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come.“
But knowing the love and
obedience of her Son, she simply turned to the waiters, telling them to
“Do whatever He tells you to do.”
It is interesting to note that
even after the statement about His time not yet having come, Jesus did
not try to hide his miraculous abilities. He didn’t just make two or
three bottles of jug wine. The six stone water jars held enough water
to wash the hands and feet of the many guests. They could probably hold
twenty gallons of water or more when full. Easily we are talking about
a hundred gallons, and Jesus not only turned it into wine, but turned it
into the best wine the chief steward had ever tasted. One would expect
the head caterer to have tasted a lot of wine in the life of his career.
Our Lord was generous because He
had been asked by the one woman to whom He could refuse nothing.
Again we have an excellent piece of advice for our couple getting
married: Keep Mary among your friends, for she, more than anyone else
on earth, is capable of tapping into the generosity of God—for Jesus,
who was God the Son of God, was her Son as well. Indeed, this would be
good advice for those who are already married, as well as for those who
would remain single. And remember that one doesn’t even have to ask
Mary for help—she knows the needs of those who make themselves her
friends, and will place those needs before her Son, who will be generous
to us for the love of her.
I was very pleased that two or
three of Kay’s relatives spoke with me during the reception that
followed the wedding. They were all interested in what I had said about
the Blessed Virgin Mary and the role she played with her Son. It wasn’t
that they had never heard this Gospel before—but rather that they had
not considered it in this light. One of them, Kay’s sister, died only
months later, and I have hope that the intercession of the Blessed
Virgin made that a holy death. About the others I have no information.
But I do know that just days
before Michael died last year, I was able to celebrate Holy Mass twice
in their home. Kay had become a Catholic a few years after the
wedding. And twice I was able to give Jesus Christ himself to my two
friends in Holy Communion.
I rest my case about the
intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for her friends, with her Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ.