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Homily of Bishop Crean – 16th January 2022

2nd Sunday C

16th January 2022

Sacred Heart Church, Ballymore

“You have kept the best wine until last”

My friends,

Weddings to which Jesus is invited are becoming less and less the norm as more couples choose not to celebrate their wedding in a church. It is now less than 50% of marriages are celebrated in church.

Many choose the registry option because they choose not to be hypocrites as they have not been part of church life for a long time and one has to respect that considered choice.

I am not sure of the number who choose to cohabit without any exchange of vows or promises.

These facts reveal the deep levels of change that have taken place in thought and practice ‘round relationship and marriage. Much of the change is driven by a new sense of freedom to choose whatever one wishes by way of relationships. But we know well that with freedom / choice comes responsibility for its impact on others and repercussions for others. Lots of jokes made about marriage – in-laws, outlaws, especially mothers-in-law! Behind it all is the serious fact of the desire for family – where love, care and respect prevail. Most weddings, religious or civil, have someone welcome the spouse into each other’s families with all the hope and aspiration that represents.

Yet one gets a sense that all is not well in many marriages and cohabiting couples. One expects day to day differences and tensions but something more is emerging. The levels of domestic violence seem to be on the increase. The reasons and factors are many.

To-day the Church reads and reflects on the Wedding Feast of Cana – a wedding to which Jesus was invited and we know added to the celebration. Deliberately we speak of marriage as a Sacrament – as having both the natural human dimension but also a spiritual dimension that we formally refer to as grace / gift.

Doing so affords a couple to set out on life’s journey together not just with the blessings of each other’s love and companionship but also a disposition / inspiration to think beyond their own individual desires and needs to the desires and needs of the other. On this disposition / inspiration (strength by the spirit shared) develops fidelity, patience, forbearance, kindness and affection which carries them through differences, trials, hurts and sickness.

Whatever choices couples make life’s wisdom has taught us well that self-giving and some sacrifice serve as the foundation and sustenance of enduring relationships.

That is why we say the best wine was kept until last.

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