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25 September 2010

Catholic Marriage Homily #1

We come here today to celebrate the joining of Philip and Jennifer in the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony.  Philip and Jennifer chose the Scripture readings for today’s celebration that reflect very clearly God’s purposes for instituting marriage.  The Sacrament of Matrimony is nothing less than a sharing in God’s very life.  We hear Jesus saying in St. John’s Gospel “As the Father has loved me, so I also love you.  Remain I my love.”  How does one share in the very life of God?  How does one love as God commanded us?  This is what Christ Jesus came to show us by dieing on the cross.  Every sacrament is a sharing in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and marriage is perhaps the best example of that sacrificial life.  We heard in the first reading from the Book of Genesis that the “two of them become one”, the problems start when you have to decide which one.  But when you understand that marriage is about imaging the sacrificial love of Christ on the cross, the problems then do not become so large.  We also read in the Gospel where Jesus says, “what God has joined together, man must not separate”.  This passage is illustrative of a feature of a sacramental marriage that is distinct from a purely civil marriage.  By making their wedding vows, in this Church, in front of this congregation, and in front of God, Philip and Jennifer are making an unbreakable covenant that can be ended only by death.  The marriage covenant reflects God’s constant and faithful love for His people.  In a civil contract, if one party does not uphold their end of the deal, the contract is void.  In a marriage covenant, both parties are to mirror God’s constant fidelity and even if the other should not live up to their end of the covenant, the other is called to reflect the fidelity of God, “What God has joined together, man must not separate.”  This faithfulness is one of the essential features of a sacramental marriage.  This covenantal and sacramental faithfulness is also one of the safeguards for the principle we discussed above--  “the two shall become one”.  Only when a man and a woman have given themselves totally to each other in the Lord is there a secure and safe haven for sexual intimacy.  This wonderful gift of God is like a beautiful rose that must be respected and protected in the security of a covenantal and sacramental marriage.  Any other use of this precious gift, does not fulfill the great destiny to which God has called us and does not mirror the great sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  This need for the faithful physical unity between the husband and wife is also the reason why the Church is opposed to in-vitro fertilization or any kind of test-tube baby.  Children are a wonderful gift from God.  This is evident from the Book of Genesis where God said to Adam and Eve “Be fertile and multiply”.  We read in the Book of Tobit, Tobiah’s prayer on his wedding night-- “Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust but for a noble purpose.”  The purpose of marital intimacy is not only to unite the man and woman but the noble purpose of marital intimacy is to bring forth children.  Because the Sacrament of Marriage is supposed to mirror God’s love for us, married couples are to be open to the transmission of life and not place any artificial obstacles in the way of God’s creative work.  For “God created man in His image; in the image of God, He created him; male and female, he created them.”  When we love with the sacrificial love that Christ showed on the cross, when we love with a love that is totally free, totally faithful, totally unitive, that love is so real and so intense that another human life appears.  In that child, the man and the woman have literally become one flesh in their child.  This is the meaning of true love.  True love is sacrificial. True love mirrors Christ’s love for us by dieing on the Cross.  This is my gift to you.  Keep this crucifix prominently displayed in your home so that every day when you look in the mirror, you can ask yourselves, “Am I being the face of Christ to my spouse?  I am I laying down my life totally, my whole body, my whole mind, my whole heart for my spouse.”  Philip, your job as Jennifer’s husband is to help get her to heaven.  Jennifer your job as Philip’s wife is to help get him to heaven.  I remember a story of an African who had come to the United States and after a few weeks he said to his American hosts, “In my country, we have a lot of draughts and so many of the songs we sing are about water.  But I come to America and I hear so many songs about love.  Do you have an absence of love in your country?”  Do not allow yourselves to be conned into the idea that love is a feeling.  Love is not a feeling.  Love is a choice.  And every day you have to choose to love each other.  Every day you have to choose to lay down your life, your desires, your goals, for the sake of your spouse.  Keep your eyes firmly fixed on the crucifix, and you will never forget the meaning of real love.    

1 comment:

catholicmarriage said...

This blog helps a lot not only to the married people but to everyone.It opens the minds and hearts of those who read it..I am married for more than 10 years now, this blog made me understand more what is the real meaning of marriage and its sacrifices.Thank you very much.


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