Homily for a Nuptial Mass
by Fr. Ermatinger
Transcription of Audio
Michael and Joanna asked to have this Gospel in which Our Lady has a prominent role, for their Nuptial Mass. Out of the various options that they had, they wanted this Marian theme, which is more than appropriate, for sure.
We see this rather strange exchange between our Lord and His Blessed Mother, in which she alerts Him to this difficult situation and she doesn’t make a petition. She doesn’t plead. She simply states a fact. They have no wine. And then, Our Lord has two things in His response that might rattle us a bit. We heard the translation that might be adequate. It’s a phrase that is from Greek, which, again, is translated from Aramaic. So we’re getting this from Aramaic to Greek to English. “What to me to you” is basically a literal translation of what our Lord said to her. Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, “What to Me to you..” doesn’t really make sense to us if we’re going to translate it literally. And we see usages of this phraseology in multiple ways. Sometimes it’s a question about, Why are you in my business? I doubt our Lord meant that to His mother.
There was a scriptural scholar, European who knew Hebrew inside and out, and he went on a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. And speaking Hebrew to his boatsman, he made a last-minute change of plans.
And he said, Well, instead of going to the eastern shore, let’s go to the northern shore, and then we’ll hit the south.
And he says without really batting an eye, the boatsman said, What to me to you?
And scriptural scholar, who knew that from Scripture but not out of slang, he says, What did you say?
And he repeated it.
And he said, Well, what does that mean when you say that?
He says, That’s what I was thinking. Maybe we ought to do the route you just said.
In other words, Our Lord is saying to Our Lady, You’re right. I was going to take care of that. Our Lord wasn’t being forced into something He didn’t want to do. Our Lord wasn’t taken by surprise by His mother and shoehorned into a situation that He didn’t foresee. Our Lady and Our Lord are not at odds with each other. But then, our Lord calls her, John writes, γύναι, woman or lady. And that also sounds to our ears rather cold; doesn’t sound like what a son would call his mother; woman. And it’s not a normal thing to say. But it’s an important message.
We heard that word in the First Reading in the Creation of Eve, and the word is the HEBREW esha in Hebrew, אִשָּׁה (‘iššâ) which means woman. And Adam calls her that. Adam says אִשָּׁה You are a Woman. Until the fall. After the fall, she is no longer אִשָּׁה, then she is Eve. So now she goes from a title to a personal name. And nonetheless, we’re going to see right after the Fall, that same word אִשָּׁה again, in what’s called the Protoevangelium in Genesis 3:15, when this prophecy is made by our Lord that there will be enmity between the dragon and the Woman and this Woman is the Blessed Mother foretold. So she is now the New Eve.
And so, we then take it up from there, we move to Cana in which we have this exchange. And because our Lord is present at this natural blessing, He raises it from a natural institution to a sacrament by His presence, and that’s what Michael and Joanna are choosing today; to supersede the natural desire and the natural institution of marriage in order to have a sacrament. And it’s not a quantitive difference. It’s not that it’s better. The supernatural factor that they’re about to receive is not better than the natural. It’s different because Christ is in the mix.
And it says, also in this Gospel passage that we just heard, Christ and His disciples were there. So Christ is there. Christ is there elevating this natural, this natural institution to a sacrament, but the Church is there as well. Just as you’re here, with Michael and Joanna here, not only to pray for them, which they asked for, and I ask you for that as well, but also as witnesses, witnesses of what they’re about to do. They’re about to embark on a covenant that we understand better in the new Adam, Christ, as He’s on the Cross, and who’s there at the foot of the Cross, but His mother, who He doesn’t call mother, He doesn’t call Mary, He says, Woman. Woman behold your son. And John is there unnamed. John, who wrote that Gospel we just heard, is there unnamed, representing you, representing me, representing Michael and Joanna. He is a representation of the Church who then is adopted by the Blessed Mother.
We’ll see Our Lady called Woman again in Revelations 12 when there is the battle between the dragon and the Woman, and the Woman then is about to give birth, takes refuge in the desert, and then the battle between Michael and Satan ensues. But again, we see that that prophecy from the very beginning of Scripture is now fulfilled in Heaven and is still being fulfilled. As the Blessed Mother is Satan’s greatest fear, greatest enemy, I was delighted they chose this Gospel, because we get to speak about one we love so much – the Blessed Mother.
And we’re reminded of her prominent role, not only on this your day, but starting today and every day afterward. And because she is the Woman, she is the New Eve and you have been purchased by the blood of the New Adam on the Cross, and she was there faithful at the foot of the Cross, she was also there in all of those great and banal moments, in the life of our Savior, from the Annunciation to the Birth, the Flight into Egypt, the return to Bethlehem, escape to Nazareth, and then living there. All have those secret moments in which she changed the substance of those moments by her mere presence. Imagine the Blessed Mother teaching the Eternal Word made flesh how to speak, how to pray. This intimacy of the Holy Family that is left to our meditation. Not too much is said in Luke’s Gospel about what happened in that Holy Household. And nonetheless, we know that wonderful things, beautiful things, in all their silence and simplicity, took place. And this is not, this ought not be something that is foreign to us, or simply a historical record, but it’s to be your life now, as you invite the Blessed Mother into your home, into all of those important moments that you will share together.
And I invite you to consecrate your home, your exterior goods, to the Blessed Mother and each one of your many children that Our Lord will lend to you. They’re His children, actually, entrusted to you for you to teach them the way to Heaven; lead them there. And who better to help you in that task than the Blessed Mother. She’s not only a teacher, she’s not only a mother, she’s also a warrior. And she will be your refuge in times of cross and difficulty; and they will come and that’s not a problem, it’s just a situation. And it’s a situation that is lived differently because of her presence because you give her a prominent role there.
Men like to fix things and solve problems, and we don’t always do a great job at it. But when we entrust them to Our Lady, there’s great peace and efficacy in that. This is where delegation is, is actually the prudent choice. And so you’ve got the Blessed Mother on your side. You have all of Heaven on your side. You have your family and friends on your sides supporting you materially with their affection, their friendship, their love, but above all with their prayer.
We ask the Blessed Mother to smile on this couple as they consecrate themselves in Holy Matrimony. When He asked her, as the New Eve, to stand by them faithfully as she stood by her Son, the New Adam on the Cross in the august and most important moment of His surrender for His own Bride, the Church as He died on the Cross.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, of the Holy Ghost. Amen