04 May 2015
Homily for the wedding of John and Ariana Coolidge
The Gospel of John is not a story of “once upon a time;” it is a story of “once and for all time.” In its lines the eternal Word becomes flesh, on behalf of all and for all. And so it is fitting that at each Orthodox marriage, we read these words from John 2. For marriage, too, embodies timeless truth in human flesh. Marriage reveals the relationship between Christ and the Church. There are not two Christs or two Churches, but one Christ and one Church, joined in their distinctiveness, and dissimilar in their union.
We see that clearly at the wedding in Cana. Two great hearts are present—Christ and his Mother, each with their own role to play. Mary is present as the intercessor, the pray-er. It is she who sees the need of the couple, and intercedes for them with her Son. “Son,” she says, “they have no wine.”
Some might say that she’s unnecessary. After all, doesn’t Christ know all and see all? Yet it was his will to work through her prayer, that day in Cana. And since these words show timeless truth, it remains his will to work through her prayers… indeed, through the prayers of all his people.
Christ is present, too, as the provider. He tells the servants to put water into pots. Then he makes that water, plain and pure, into the sweetest and best of wines. He works in a hidden way to accomplish his will. The servants pour but water; the steward tastes but wine. Only the disciples get the whole picture. Only they see that by Mary’s prayer, and by Christ’s provision, the water is turned to wine. Only they see Christ’s glory, and worship him.
John and Ariana, it has been my privilege and joy to watch this relationship develop from its beginning. I knew you both, before you were together. I remember a breakfast at the truck stop on 76th, and a suggestion—“Why not just go out on one date, and see what happens?”
Well—see what happens! See what happens through the prayers of Mary and the provision of Christ! Today he who made them male and female in the beginning, and who said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”—today he joins you together as husband and wife.
And those two great hearts are not done with you. You will have those times when the wine runs low in your life together…when joy becomes struggle and maybe even heartache. If marriage were a merely a matter of two people and their willingness, it could not last in this broken world. Did you notice that there are no vows in our wedding liturgy? Marriage is a threefold cord, for God the Holy Trinity works today to bring you together and join you as one. It is not of man who runs or wills, but of God who shows mercy.
So let me encourage you to invite Christ and his Mother to your home and life together. She will pray for you in those times when the wine runs low. She will teach you, as she taught the servants, “Whatever he says, do it!” And he who came to bring joy to that couple will bring to you as well, the wine of joy and gladness in his Kingdom, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.