I had the privilege of presiding at a wedding on Saturday. Here’s my homily:
Good afternoon. It’s so good for us all to be here together today to celebrate Robert and Tess being joined together in Holy Matrimony, one of the seven sacraments of the Church. A sacrament is simply a visible sign of an invisible reality, a special grace God will give them to strengthen and bless their lives together as a married couple. This extraordinary gift of grace will be given to them today as they make their vows to one another in God’s presence and they receive the nuptial blessing from Him, through myself as a minister of His Church. This is what is happening here today.
Tess and Robert, In a few minutes you will enter into a covenant with one another. Unlike a mere legal arrangement, a covenant is so much more than a contract. The covenant of marriage between a man and a woman can not be broken. It is a permanent union made before God and witnessed by all of us here. You will soon promise to be faithful to each other, loving and honoring one another until the time of your death. You come here today asking for God’s blessing on this sacred union so that you will be able to draw on his strength during good times and bad times alike.
A holy, sacramental marriage is a reflection of God’s love for each of us. Our first reading from the Book of Genesis speaks of God’s goodness when he created man in his own image, male and female he created them. After creating our first parents, God instructed them to be fertile and multiply and He gave them dominion over all the living things that move on the earth. He blessed them and saw that his creation was very good.
It is in the Sacrament of Matrimony you are celebrating today, you are reminded of the wonderful blessing you are receiving as God instructs you to be fertile and multiply. You will soon be asked if you are prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church. While we can’t assume that every couple will receive the precious gift of children, you are promising to be open to receiving this gift and to not impede it through any artificial means.
Never yield to the temptation of counting the cost of raising children if you are blessed to have them. And for heaven’s sake raise them in the Church, teaching them to know and to love Christ. And if you don’t receive the gift of children, don’t despair. God has a plan. Just don’t artificially prevent them because you think you know better than He does when you are ready to be parents. Trust Him and accept with joy whatever gifts he may be prepared to give you, in His time, not yours.
From the second reading you selected, I can see that you take seriously the importance not conforming yourselves to this present age, the secular culture we live in that has so distorted that which is holy and pleasing to God. I can see that you expect your love for one another to be sincere and fervent, loving one another with mutual affection and honoring the vows you are making today.
Robert & Tess, as a couple you will have many opportunities in the coming years to rejoice in hope, to endure in affliction, and to persevere in prayer. I can’t overstate the importance of prayer in your marriage. Pray together and pray by yourselves. Keep Christ in the center of your relationship by making a commitment to praying every day, even when you don’t feel like it.
Stay close to him by attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. Regular prayer and active participation in a faithful Christian community is how you will deepen your relationship with Christ and with one another. God will surely reward your efforts to grow in LOVE by living a holy life together.
And always remember the true definition of love: it is TO WILL THE GOOD OF THE OTHER. Love is not a feeling or mere passion, it is a commitment to give yourself completely over to each other, for the good of your spouse. As St. Paul says in our 2nd reading, sincere love is a decision to hate what is evil and hold on to what is good, to anticipate one another in showing honor to each other.
It is a decision to exercise hospitality, to bless those who persecute you, to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. True love makes a daily effort to live at peace with all. This is not always easy as it so often means putting aside your own desires to honor the desires of your spouse. But this is what true love looks like, this is what you are called to do, and the rewards are way beyond anything you might gain through acts of selfishness.
Now a few words for the parents. Always remember that a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife. Let go of your attachments to your son and daughter. Advise them, love them, but do not interfere in their relationship. They need to make their own way together…let them make mistakes, it’s how they will learn. And if they don’t do things the way you did them, don’t worry about it. It will be alright. Give them the space they need to grow in love and understanding.
And to ALL of you here, family and friends. Let your presence and advice always help Tess and Robert to grow in their love, never to harm it. Be good examples for them and always encourage them to remain faithful and true to one another, even if you think one of them is not holding up their end of the bargain. They’ll need your support from time to time and they will count on you to help them remain faithful to the vows they are about to make. Never tear down their relationship, always build it up.
Robert and Tess, if you do your best to live out your vows you will indeed be a light shining in a dark world. As we just heard in our gospel reading, your light is meant to shine forth into the darkness, not to be hidden under a bushel basket.
You are being sent today into the world as a couple on a mission. God has a job for you to do that can only be done by you. Pray about what that job might be and then jump into it. God is counting on you, and on your willingness to embrace whatever that mission might be. If you do this faithfully it will surely result in a lifetime of joy and fulfillment. And always remember the most important job He is giving you; the job of helping each other get to heaven.
So, Tess and Robert, are you ready to embark on this amazing adventure? Are you ready to begin this exciting partnership and journey faithfully into your future? OK then, let’s do this!
God bless you.