translated with permission by Mary Davidson from http://sainteThérèsemetz. fr/?page_id=2185
You may be wondering why we chose this gospel of the wedding feast at Cana for the Mass of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin. This is a beautiful passage that we all know well, but it can be surprising. One could read it like this: well, it is a wedding, and when we think of those preparing for a wedding today, the care they take to plan the party, the choice of wines and every detail today . . . it should be planned so that there could be no lack of wine. If there were a lack of wine, we would think that someone had made a mistake. Now in this scene, there is certainly a lesson for us. First, the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were there; it was his first public appearance. We wonder how he knew the newlyweds. The wedding was lovely, but there was not enough wine! How could those who planned the occasion not know how to prepare the wedding feast? And we see the role of Mary, who tugs on the sleeve of Jesus, saying: there is a problem. Jesus said to her, in effect, this is not my business. Then Mary said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you. ”
And what happens? There were six tanks of water, each containing one hundred liters. Six hundred liters, that’s right! And Jesus will change six hundred liters of water into wine! And not cheap picnic vintage, but good wine. This is better than the burgundy, the Saint-Emilion, or any other wine judged the best: six hundred liters! There is an excess there. Then the headwaiter said to the groom, “What are you doing? Usually the best wine is served first, and then when people have drunk freely, the poorer quality is brought out. But you have saved the best wine for last!” And this is added: “this was the beginning of the signs Jesus performed.” The Church is the key to reading this text. The wedding in question here is the one that was started with Noah, when there was the covenant with God. The covenant is a sign of the union of marriage, the covenant that was celebrated in the works of the Jewish people in the desert. We remember how, in the readings of the Easter Vigil, we are reminded of this covenant. The good wine is the good wine of love. And in the Acts of the Apostles there is Mary. What did Mary do? She sees our human needs, and she says to us, as she said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you. ” “This is the beginning of the signs Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He manifested His glory and His disciples believed in Him.”
Brothers and sisters, tonight we are at the wedding at Cana. Some of the good wine that God gives to help us is the blessed couple, Louis and Zélie Martin. These last years, we have also had an excellent wine in their daughter Thérèse. I hope you know the taste of good wine! If you cannot taste it, better take your purse and go outside. Deep down in our hearts, in watching Louis and Zélie, Jesus shows the strength of His love in the hearts of a man and a woman. The sacrament of matrimony invites us to recognize the force of love, but the strength of love is for everyone. Jesus manifests His glory that we might believe in Him. Sadly, in our world, many men and women do not hear the message of the unbreakable wedding covenant established between the Lord and all of us, His people. In our baptism, we recognized that we are beloved sons and beloved daughters of the Father! The strength of Louis and Zélie is their inner certainty of the love the Lord had given them.
We may be familiar with the youth of this couple. Louis and Zélie were slow to discover their married love in the Lord. When Louis was twenty, he thought that love of God would take him to the monastery of the Great St. Bernard, up in the mountains, near the border of France and Italy. There the abbot asked him: “Do you know Latin?” “No,” said Louis. “Here at the monastery,” said the abbot, “it is necessary to know Latin. ” Louis left, and he took Latin lessons for eighteen months. We are happy that he dropped these studies, because otherwise we would have had a monk at St. Bernard rather than have St. Thérèse! It is the humor of the Master. And Zélie, when she was twenty years old, went with her mother to the superior of the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul, who were in Alençon, to seek a vocation to the religious life. She was influenced by her older sister Elise (Sister Marie Dosithée), who had a strong faith and worked by her side making lace. And then, for whatever reason, the superior of the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul said to Zélie: “No, you do not have a vocation.” Well, both of them tried!
Louis continued his occupation of making and repairing watches and clocks. Zélie became professionally trained in the difficult art of making the lace of Alençon. She became an artisan and began to market the lace. Later, they married. Now they began to see that their marriage was also an education. With what joy, when Zélie already had two or three children, she told her sister: “I love having children; I was born to have them. ” Zélie also said, “What a wonderful husband I have! I wish the same for all women.” Married men who are here might get a bit jealous when they hear this, right? Maybe, maybe not. But the strength of Louis and Zélie Martin is their certainty that their union in human love, in human kindness, in their bodies and in their hearts, in their emotions, in the joyful events and sorrow of life--that their love was rooted in God. Their love was rooted in the One Who made the good wine, Who is love. God is Love! My brothers and sisters, I pray for you, that the testimony of Louis and Zélie Martin might help you all to believe in the power of love in your life. This power is there whatever our age, whatever our problems, whatever our situation in relation to the Church.
What really impressed us at the beatification ceremonies in Lisieux is that many couples who are not “normal” couples, at least according to the criteria of the Church, prayed together and together found strength in Louis and Zélie Martin. We are not loved by God because we are nice. God loves each of us unconditionally, whatever the situation, whatever our social standing, regardless of our strengths or weaknesses. The sign of the covenant--it is for everyone!
Finally, Louis and Zélie found the strength for their marriage in the Eucharist. That is what we celebrate. The Eucharist held a prominent place in their lives each day. Louis frequently attended Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. For these holy people, the Eucharist was not a ritual, it was a Presence, the Presence of Him who at Cana manifested His glory. Louis and Zélie Martin speak to us today the same message as that of their holy daughter, Thérèse: “to love Jesus and to make Him more loved.”