Traditionally, when Twelfth Night, Epiphany, rolls around on January 6, Holy Church sings an antiphon about not just one manifestation (Greek: epipháneia) of Our Lord’s divinity, but rather three.

First, we know Christ to be divine through the adoration of angels, shepherds and Magi. Next, at His Baptism by John in the Jordan, the Father’s voice was heard. Later, Our Divine Lord miraculously changed water into wine at the wedding at Cana. Around the ancient feast of Epiphany we tease these mysteries apart, even as we, liturgically, hold them together in their essential unity: Christ is not just man, He is God.

Speaking of a wedding, marriage was of divine origin with Adam and Eve. In his Tractates on the Gospel of John, St Augustine of Hippo (d 430) explores the symbolism of the six water jars, the measures of wine within them, and the creation of Adam and Eve. Let’s see:

In the very beginning, Adam and Eve were the parents of all nations, not of the Jews only; and whatever was represented in Adam concerning Christ, undoubtedly concerned all nations, whose salvation is in Christ. What better can I say of the water of the first water jar than what the apostle says of Adam and Eve? Thus, the first water jar held a prophecy of Christ; but so long as these things of which I speak were not preached among the peoples, the prophecy was water, it was not yet changed into wine. And since the Lord has enlightened us through the apostle, to show us what we were in search of, by this one sentence, “The two shall be one flesh; a great mystery concerning Christ and the Church,” we are now permitted to see Christ everywhere, and to drink wine from all the water jars. Adam sleeps, that Eve may be formed; Christ dies, that the Church may be formed. When Adams sleeps, Eve is formed from his side; when Christ is dead, the spear pierces His side, that the mysteries may flow forth whereby the Church is formed.

Christ brought marriage back to its original character of monogamy (cf Matthew 19: 3ff) and elevated it to a sacrament. Just as Christ’s unity with His Church is indissoluble, so too is the bond of true marriage. This is the perennial teaching of the Church which we are bound to believe: marriage is a true and proper Sacrament instituted by God.

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