Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Homily for Wedding of Cathy F. & Daniel R.

Homily for the
Wedding of Cathy F. & Daniel R.
Oct. 1, 2016
Mark 10: 6-9
Prov 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31
1 Cor 12: 31—13: 8
Holy Cross, Champaign, Ill.

“Jesus said:  ‘They are no longer two but one flesh’” (Mark 10: 9).
Sacrament of Matrimony
St. Catharine's Church, Spring Lake, N.J.

How’s this for a neat coincidence:  Earlier today Pope Francis spoke about marriage during his pastoral visit to the Republic of Georgia.  Among other things he said:  “Matrimony is the most beautiful thing God created.”  Since man and woman have been created in God’s image, “it is when the two become one that his image is reflected.”  And he didn’t even know you chose that your reading, Cathy and Dan!

In the Catholic understanding of the workings of God’s grace, today Cathy and Dan are celebrating a sacrament, i.e., a visible sign of the interior, spiritual reality of what God does for us thru our Lord Jesus Christ.

The two become one flesh.  The conjugal union that we pray Cathy and Dan will celebrate for the rest of their natural lives is a physical expression of that oneness.  But that oneness isn’t only physical.  That outward sign indicates an interior oneness, that the two become one in heart and mind, bound together by a deeply spiritual bond of love and friendship, and oneness that will lead and drive the two of them together toward the fulfillment of their calling in Christ Jesus—which is that they become saints.

The two become one flesh.  The outward sign of Cathy and Dan’s marriage, and of every Christian marriage, is a symbol of the Son of God’s union of his divine nature with our human flesh, a symbol of the Incarnation, a symbol of God’s intense, intimate love for the human race and for each of us individually.  “The Word became flesh and made his home among us” (John 1:14).  “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16).  Your matrimonial union, Dan and Cathy, is a sign of the union of Christ’s two natures in his one person, a divine mystery that effects our salvation.

The two become one flesh.  St. Paul teaches us that marriage is an outward sign of the love between Jesus Christ and his Church.  A husband loves his wife “even as Christ does the Church,” and a wife loves her husband as the Church loves Christ—unconditionally, unreservedly, sacrificially, eternally.  As Christ leads the Church toward redemption, a husband helps his wife grow in holiness by his love for her, his assistance to her, his care for her, his support for her.  As the Church finds its redemption in Christ, a wife finds in her husband boundless strength and help toward a life of virtue.

You chose for your 1st reading part of the beautiful 31st chapter of Proverbs.  I think that means Dan believes he’s found “a worthy wife” (31:10), and I think she and all of you agree.  I suspect Cathy would turn the passage around and claim to have found a worthy husband.  They both have “an unfailing prize” in the other, and both entrust their hearts to the other (31:11).  Together they commit themselves to forming a stable, ordered household and to reaching out beyond their family to God’s larger family:  “She [which means they] reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy” (31:20).  Your care for others will be a manifestation of your care for each other, your sensitivity to each other; and it will grow your love for each other.

You chose for your 2d reading St. Paul’s incomparable hymn to Christian love.  By happy coincidence, today, Oct. 1, is the feast of St. Theresa of Lisieux, who wrote in her autobiography that in this very passage she found her vocation:  “My vocation isn’t to be a great apostle or missionary or teacher.  My vocation is love.  In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be love.”  And she did that so thoroughly within the little world of her cloister, among her fellow nuns—her family—and with a consciousness of the vast Church of Christ beyond, that in the 24 short years of her life she became an inspiration to her sisters and to the entire world, ranking in popularity only a little bit behind St. Francis and St. Anthony, I suppose.  Cathy and Dan, love is your vocation, your road to the holiness to which God called you in Baptism and continues to call you.  Reflect often upon Paul’s particular words:  patience, kindness, selflessness, forgiveness, truth, forbearance, etc., and do all in your power to make them part of your lives with each other, with your children, with your work colleagues, with your future patients, with your fellow parishioners at Holy Infant, or wherever you go.

And, of course, brothers and sisters in Christ, Paul’s words are meant for you and me too.  For God has called every one of us to “strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts,” to strive to love purely, totally, selflessly, as Christ has loved us—and so to become one with Christ in his kingdom, where he lives and reigns forever and ever.

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