On Sunday, January 17, the commemoration of the wedding feast at Cana took place at the Franciscan parish of Kafr Kanna in Galilee. The mass is traditionally an opportunity for couples to renew their wedding vows in the same place where we commemorate Jesus’ first miracle. Having been invited to a wedding, he changed water into wine when the wine had run out (John 2: 1-11).
The small church was packed and parishioners thronged outside to have the opportunity to attend the celebration. In the absence of the Custos, the custodial vicar, Br. Dobromir Jazstal was the presider, while former pastor, Br. François Marie Shamiyeh gave the homily. Dozens of couples reaffirmed their commitment of love and fidelity for each other. Each made the sign of the cross and kissed their spouse’s wedding ring before putting it back on his or her finger. Roses had previously been given out for the occasion.
This parish located in the outskirts of Nazareth is very dynamic. Of the approximately 3000 Christians who inhabit the city, nearly 900 are Latin Catholics who attend mass at the Franciscan church. The sunlight and and friendliness added to the festival’s convivial atmosphere. The breakfast table was shared by all at the monastery’s courtyard: young and old, religious and families, and even a neighboring Orthodox priest.
Several Franciscans, who had been in charge of the parish in the past, returned for the feast. “This is the day of joy,” confided one of the brothers. “We celebrate the marriage commitment of all couples, their children and families…” In fact, the Arabic word for “joy,” farha, is also used to speak about someone’s marriage: farehtak means “your joy,” and also has the meaning of “your marriage.” There is nothing quite like a day like this to remind us of this fact!