Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Sacrament of Marriage

Today is our third wedding anniversary. Our friend Fr. Brian, at that time a deacon, gave the homily at our wedding. My husband's grandmother commented to my mother-in-law, "What a nice talk! It was as if he was their friend, talking right to them!" My mother-in-law replied, "He is their friend. He was talking right to them."

Photo credit: Eric Brophy, photobloke.smugmug.com

What a great joy it is to be here to witness this wedding. I’ve always enjoyed weddings, especially weddings of my friends. In fact, I often think that the main reason I am studying to become a priest is so that I can marry every girl I know.

Actually, Jeremy and Liana, as I am sure you know, our Catholic theology teaches us that the ministers of the sacrament that we are all here to celebrate today are you. Often times you will hear priests and deacons say things like I married this couple, but this is not the case. The priest or deacon only serves as an official witness on behalf of the Church. It is you who administer the sacrament to each other. It is you Liana, who will administer the sacrament to Jeremy as you declare your love for and fidelity to him. And it is you Jeremy who will administer the sacrament to Liana, as you declare your love for her, and your fidelity to her. It is in declaring your mutual love and fidelity for each other that you make God’s love and fidelity known to each other. And this is why you are the ones who administer the sacrament to each other. So the Church teaches that it is you who are the ministers of the sacrament. It is not Fr. Bradler or I who marry you, but you who marry each other. And be thankful for this, because, I am quite certain that neither one of you wants to take Fr. Bradler or me home with you.

Remember, while you administer the sacrament to each other, your marriage is not only a sacrament for you. It is a sacrament for the whole world as well. It is a way in which you visibly reflect the love that God has for each one of us. The way in which you Jeremy love and treat your wife, Liana, is not only to honor her, but it is to witness to the world the way in which God loves his people. And the way you Liana, love and treat your husband Jeremy, is not meant to be a Disney-inspired fairy tale, but a reflection of the way in which God loves all people.

In my conversations with both of you as you prepared for this day, I have come to know that you take this responsibility to manifest God’s love to the world very seriously. The second reading today accurately states that you cannot know love apart from God. I know that you read scripture together and that you pray together, so that you may grow in your knowledge of God and thereby grow in your love as a couple. And our hope for you is that you will not only come not only to knowledge of love, but to a lived expression of love. Because that is how you will manifest God to the world. Since God is love, your lived expression of that love is indeed a manifestation of God’s presence in our world.

In receiving the sacrament of marriage, your life will now become a public vocation. In this sacrament the Church calls you to be salt for the earth, an earth, that unfortunately has lost a lot of its flavor. In calling you to be salt for the earth, the Church hopes that you will help bring back some of that flavor by making your life together a public witness to the fact that God is present in our world. That our God loves the people in this world, and that our God is concerned about the needs of his people.

In receiving the sacrament of marriage, the Church calls you to be a light for our world, a world that often sits in darkness. The Church calls you to help enlighten the world by your example of love. The church calls you and asks you to declare your love for each other, not only through your declaration today, but every day of your married life. We need you to love each other in such a way that when people look to you, they will see God’s love for his people. We need you to be a witness that love is something greater than romance. That love is not about receiving, but about giving. We, The Church, therefore call you to give yourself totally and selflessly to each other, so that your light might shine forth as a reminder of the way in which Christ totally and selflessly gave himself to all of us.

Answer the call. Answer the call to love each other. Answer the call to live your married life in such a way that you are salt for the earth. Answer the call in such a way that your marriage becomes a bright light that everyone can point to. And live you married life in such a way that you make the love of Christ known to all who know you.

Happy Anniversary!
Photo credit: Eric Brophy, photobloke.smugmug.com

4 comments: