WEDDING HOMILY FOR SONIA AND RAUL
BY FR EMMANUEL OCHIGBO
BASED ON JOHN 2:1-11
WHAT AN EMBARRASSMENT! BUT THE BEST IS YET TO COME!
My dear friends, today is the tomorrow we talked about yesterday; a special day in the lives of Sonia, and Raul; and we are privileged to be witnesses to this sacred and historic moment.
I have no recollection of when and how I first met, Sonia and Raul, along with their three children, Alexandra, Raulito and Kate. The much I can remember now is that, somehow, we exchanged cellphone numbers and from time to time, they would take short video clips from my homilies and send to me. Other times, they would take a video of themselves performing a skit based on my homilies and send to me. Those were encouragements, those reassured me that at least some people were awake and paying attention while I was preaching. When the pattern became consistent, it dawned on me that these are no longer fans, these are now friends who are becoming part of my family. Just at that point, I got my first invitation to their home.
I was captivated by the love that I noticed between Sonia and Raul, and their children. I noticed the intelligence and the discipline of the children. I wanted to know how it all began. And so, halfway into the dinner, I decided to ask, “For how long have you been married?” Raul immediately began to gaze at the roof and to roll his eyes, and then Sonia was the one who spoke, “Father, emmmm, we have been married for…let’s say…emmmmm…” And then, their five year old son, Raulito, who seemed not to have been paying attention, jumped in immediately and said, “Father, don’t mind them, they are not even married yet!” At that point, the faces of Sonia and Raul dropped in what seemed like a cute embarrassment, and then, Sonia immediately turned to the children and said, “Kids, it is way past your bedtime, you need to be up early tomorrow for school, now get to your rooms.” When they left, Raul began to speak, he said, “Father, this is exactly why we invited you to our home today. We are civilly married. We have been married for a few years now, but we are yet to have our Church wedding. We have been following you for a while, and we have decided that we would like you to be the one to prepare us for our Church wedding and to also preside at our wedding Mass.” And so, my dearly beloved in Christ, to cut a long story short, that is how we got here today.
Five-year-old Raulito said, “Father, don’t mind them; they are not even married yet!” How embarrassing it was for you, Sonia and Raul on that day! Yet, that also was a testimony to how you are raising your children. On that day, I felt like asking the little boy, “Raulito, tell me, who are your parents? I think they deserve to be given the award of the best parents of the year.” I was impressed by the fact that at that young age, Raulito could hold his parents accountable, he could say to them in the presence of a priest that they needed to step up their game and be wedded in the Church. From there, I began to notice how in addition to sending their children to a Catholic School, they give them a solid foundation at home. They pray with them at home, in the car, and before and after every school activity and every sporting activity. Every morning, on their way to school, they get the children to recite the Ten Commandments and the seven sacraments of the Church, and to explain each of them.
Sonia and Raul, the statement of your son, Raulito, initially came as an embarrassment, but it also revealed the glory of God that is hidden in you and in your family. Similarly, in the Gospel passage that we just read, there was an embarrassing situation at a wedding: they ran out of wine. In that Palestinian culture, whenever the wine ran out, it meant that the wedding was over. But thanks be to God, Mary was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. And so, Mary, being a mother who knows her son very well, ran to her son and spoke to him about the embarrassing situation. And Jesus said to her, “Mom, how is this our concern? We are guests. This does not concern us.”
And then, Jesus looked into the eyes of his mother again, and he saw disappointment; Mary looked into the eyes of Jesus again, and she saw something changed, and so Mary said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you to do.” And that was how the first miracle performed by Jesus was recorded in the bible: the changing of water to wine.
My dearly beloved in Christ, this is not just a story about a wedding that took place many years ago in Cana, in Galilee. This is also a metaphor for life. One of the strong messages of this gospel passage is that in life, the wine always runs out. The wine could run out of our marriage; out of our career, out of our business, out of our hobby, out of our school, out of our vocation, out of our health, out of our relationship, etc. What made sense in the past is no longer making sense. We can find ourselves in situations where life makes no meaning.
What can make the wine to run out? The wine can run out as a result of fatigue coming from different activities in life. The wine can run out as a result of negligence and neglect. We take more from life than we put into life. We take all the goodies out and we do not replace. We take no time to pray, we take no time to read and to reflect on the bible, we take no time to form and to belong support groups; we destroy more than we are able to recreate.
The first wine can be so cheap, we do nothing to earn it, and because of that, we take it for granted, and it runs out easily. The first wine could be our life, our marriage, our talents, our handsomeness, our beauty, and the various gifts that God has given to us that we have done nothing to earn. And when the wine runs out, what do we do? We look around to see if Jesus and Mary are at the wedding. The truth of the matter is that they are always there, but because we think the first wine is enough, we do not recognize their presence. And when we realize their presence, what should we do? We tell ourselves the truth that there is something wrong with our life. We tell ourselves the truth that vitality is gone out of our relationship, and so we go and say it to Jesus. Here we need persistence, for even if Jesus says, “No,” we can run to his mother. Jesus cannot look at those loving eyes of his mother and say, “No” to her.
The last words of Mary recorded in the bible is in today’s gospel passage. She said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you to do.” Those are words of confidence of a mother who knows her son and trusts her son, of a mother who wants to teach us the best way to relate with her son, the Word of God that has become flesh.
Sonia and Raul, your first wine was good, your civil marriage was good, but the best is yet to come. When your little son, Raulito made that statement, he was challenging you to step up your game to give a formal invitation to Mary and Jesus to be part of your wedding; to give a formal invitation to the Blessed Trinity to be part of your home.
Friends and family members of Sonia and Raul, I have no idea of what you are going through at the moment. But I have good news for you: the best is yet to come. God saves the best for the end. None of us has gone too far yet; we have not gone to the well of the grace of God where water changes to wine. We are at the end of this liturgical year. And experience shows us that the end of each liturgical year ushers in a new liturgical year. God is not done with you yet. When one door closes, another one opens. The problem with us is that, we focus so much on the closed door that we do not realize the new and better door that has been opened for us by God.
The best is yet to come. Changing the water to wine was not the end of the miracle. On Holy Thursday, the wine was changed to the blood of Jesus for our salvation, to cleanse us of our sins. Your wedding today is not the end of the story. It is a preparation for the final wedding, where all of us, the Church will become the bride of Jesus Christ at the wedding feast of the Lamb. And so, we pray that the blood of Jesus may purify us of all our imperfections, to become worthy bride of the Lamb. And through this Eucharistic celebration, may God change all our embarrassing moments to something glorious, through Christ our Lord. Amen.