By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
LEAWOOD, Kan. — It was a rare and gorgeous 64-degree Sunday afternoon on Feb. 8. What could possibly draw hundreds of people indoors at Cure of Ars Parish?
“The building block of society,” said Bishop Robert W. Finn as he and Kansas City, Kan., Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann celebrated Mass to mark World Marriage Day.
In his homily, Bishop Finn lauded the hundreds of married couples who packed the church with their families for their commitment to each other and to the Sacrament of Marriage.
And standing right there with every married couple, every step of the way, is Jesus, Bishop Finn said.
“Jesus Christ wants to be also at the center of marriage,” he said. “He wants to respond to the pressing needs of couples and assist families in the everyday challenges you face. This sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a path to holiness, the way to heaven for you, your spouse and children.”
It isn’t easy, the bishop said.
“Today, certain true elements of marriage and family are mocked by culture. ‘Why so many children?’ Why do you make so many sacrifices? Why work so long and hard to hold a marriage together when it is strained or challenged? Isn’t it better to give up and try again?’” Bishop Finn said.
The challenges can be so difficult that married couples and their families deserve the prayers and support of the entire church. Successful marriages are that important, he said.
“They are sacraments that reveal Christ,” Bishop Finn said.
“Your daily sacrifices show us that God is among his people,” he said. “Your joy and perseverance in forming your children in the heart of the home is a blessing which lasts forever in the lives of your sons and daughters. It prepares them for their own vocations, and ultimately for heaven.”
Bishop Finn recalled Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks to the World Meeting of Families in Milan, Italy in 2012, when he used the Gospel story of Christ’s first miracle at the Wedding Feast at Cana as an analogy for a successful marriage.
The first wine served at the Cana wedding celebration was excellent, supposedly the best. But the second wine that Jesus made from water was even better.
The first wine, Pope Benedict said, was like “falling in love,” but it was only the beginning. “Something more wonderful still awaits the couple,” the pope said.
“Your mature love, the second wine, is the heroic love that can and will change the world,” Bishop Finn said.
“In the most difficult days, this persevering and faithful love gives hope to your spouse; it gives life to your home; it renews your parishes; it transforms our diocese; it is a powerful sign to the secular culture. Because it is a manifestation of God’s own everlasting life and love, it has the power to change the world,” he said.
“When you drink deeply of the ‘second wine,’ when you speak honestly and loving, when you pray together and ask Jesus to be the center of your home, to be the heart of your family, then what happens is a miracle of grace that can only be explained by acknowledging God. God did this. And when the world sees his glory, his disciples will believe in him,” Bishop Finn said.
And on that glorious mid-winter Sunday afternoon, “What a grace-filled time to gather in worship of God for so great a gift,” Bishop Finn said.
“For you and your families, every day is marriage day, and every day Jesus Christ is ready to accompany you on your path of life and love,” he said.