Why Bother with Marriage?
#WhyBotherWithMarriage is the podcast for January 20, 2019, the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Marriage takes on a whole new meaning when Jesus changes water into wine. How can he change that water of your marriage into wine? Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #John #John2 #Marriage #Wine #Prophecy #NaturalMarriage #SacramentalMarriage #Renewal #NewHeaven #NewEarth
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For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 1/20/2019 The 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read John 2:1-11.
Stone jars; Wine as a symbol; The ‘third day’; Weddings and marriage. More on those later.
I have a video on my youtube channel, My Spiritual Advisor, that is called “5 Mistakes We Make in Choosing a Spouse.” It has 3,005 views as of last Thursday. With all the divorce that is happening, many young people are no longer believing in marriage because they see those 5 mistakes over and over again. A February 2018 article in the English newspaper “The Daily Mail” indicated that marriages among heterosexual couples is down to between 20-30% of all couples. A 2015 article in the Washington Post shows, with a fancy chart and everything, that marriage rates are at their lowest since 1870 in the United States. I might add that bustle.com says that divorce rates are lower, too. That is simply because many people, young people, do not believe in marriage anymore.
This begs the question, why get married at all? Why is Jesus at an event that as far as American history shows, causes so much pain? Why do we even try? If marriage is so hard, then why would Jesus come along and make a sacrament out of it by attending one, and telling us not to divorce? Why would he tell us that marriage is to make us one when so often we end up divided?
That would assume that this story, the first ministerial act of Jesus in the Gospel of John, and thought to be his first ministerial act period, is solely about marriage, but it is not. It can inform us as to why we screw up marriage and what kind of marriage God wants us to have. Yet, this passage is not about marriage. We know this first off, because of the stone jars.
Why would St. John go into such detail about these jars? He is a very topical kind of guy when it comes to action overall, but he has drilled down on the details of these jars. First, there are six of them. Second, they hold between 120 and 180 gallons of wine total. Third, we should remember that weddings were seven day affairs. Let’s not get stuck on this. Stone jars are used as opposed to earthen jars. It would have been much easier to use pottery, but pottery is made out of the dirt upon which the unclean lizards run, so to be kosher, they have to be stone jars. They meet the requirement of purification.
So, when Jesus changes the water into wine, he is not rejecting Judaism or the Old Testament. The fact that the jars meet the requirements of the purification rites would point to him doing something new, building upon the Law. Jesus is fulfilling the Law and more.
I have no idea why people are so down on the Old Testament. Seriously, I know the smiting and the immediate judgment are concerning to us, but the prophets Amos and Joel are in the Old Testament and they say this:
The days are coming, says the Lord, when…the mountains shall drip sweet wine and the hills shall flow with it.
And in that day, the mountains shall drip sweet wine…
Who can hate a prophecy that says that one of the ways that you will know the renewal of the Heavens and the Earth by God is coming is that the mountains will drip sweet wine? That is awesome if you ask me! This prophecy points to the fact that when Jesus makes water into wine, it is a sign that he is the fulfillment of God’s renewal. When Jesus comes, “Behold! [he] makes all things new!” As a first act of ministry, the sign is that in Jesus Christ, there is the renewal of the world. He is always making things new. He transforms stone jars for purification to the holders of the sweet wine of the renewal of the heavens and earth.
It is the scripture scholar Fred Craddock who points out that in the Gospel of John, Jesus is always doing important things ‘on the third day’. He also will cleanse the temple on the third day. This is another renewal through Jesus Christ that happens on the third day. The water into wine, the cleansing of God’s House, and the Resurrection are all Third Day happenings. The ‘third day’ means renewal through Jesus.
So, you may be wondering what the 5 mistakes we make in choosing a spouse are. They are:
- We don’t think we have the right to choose.
- We choose someone who is the opposite of us.
- We don’t know ourselves, our goals, our needs.
- We think we can change our prospective spouse.
- We date under the influence of the chemicals released in sexual activity.
So, I might add a sixth mistake we make as Christians: we think marriage is a human thing. We are right and we are wrong on that one.
There are two kinds of marriage, a natural marriage and a sacramental marriage. A natural marriage has two spouses, children, and serves as a contract between husband and wife. It need not be state sanctioned, necessarily. In some countries, this fact is recognized by the fact that persons who wish to be married in the church first go to be married contractually by the State. A natural marriage is for the purpose of ordering the human life.
A sacramental marriage, on the other hand, is for the purpose of getting each other to heaven. Marriage as a sacrament is meant to renew what happened to Adam and Eve, regarding original sin. Original sin turns us in upon ourselves, upon what we want, what we think, what we need. A sacramental marriage places the couple in the tutelage of Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate bridegroom. He showed us that being a husband means giving up your life to save your spouse.
It is in this context then, that a sacramental marriage means doing the will of God. Praying together, reading Scripture together, talking about the things of God together, forming your life together around the Commandments, around the worship of the Church, etc. All of these things transform the marriage because the goal is that each person would serve Jesus Christ first, then one another. That is how the two become one that ultimately ends up in the sexual nuptial union. In seeking to satisfy our own urges and desires, we in the self-gratifying culture of the U.S. often confuse ourselves by putting sex first, then trying to figure out where everything else fits. Jesus, by taking the old stone jars and transforming water into wine, renews the contract of satisfaction of the natural marriage into something much more, the covenant of service to the other.
The Christian marriage is a symbol of God’s work in the world, or it should be. When it isn’t, it is safe to say that natural marriage tendencies and a resistance to renewal in Christ by one or both parties is present.
The wedding at Cana is about the renewal of all creation through the revelation of Jesus Christ in his first ministerial act. We would be well served to anticipate that we, too, are renewed by Heavenly Wine, Jesus Christ…if we are open to him. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2018.
 Anna Swanson, “144 Years of Marriage in the United States”, The Washington Post, 23 June 2015. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/06/23/144-years-of-marriage-and-divorce-in-the-united-states-in-one-chart/?utm_term=.a1ab74254fdd
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian