Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31;Romans 12:1-2, 9-18 or 12:1-2, 9-13; Mark 10:6-9
Allison and Manny, your day is finally here. Your families are here, all of your preparations are in place, and you’ve made it to the church. I’m glad you chose to come to the church – so many people now do not. They choose instead other venues that they feel will be a beautiful backdrop to the ceremony. Well, the church is also a wonderful backdrop for the pictures, but it is so much more than that. It is the house of God, and therefore we come before our Lord to bless and sanctify this marriage. No matter how many beautiful pictures you take today, they will not be able to help a union that does not live itself out on a daily basis with true love.
I am so glad that you chose the readings you did. For the second reading, you did not choose the usual selection, which is to say Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, about love, which is one of the most beautiful descriptions of love in all of literature. Instead, you chose a passage from Romans, where Paul spends more time describing not so much what love is but how in practice you show love, honor, and respect to those around you. Corinthians is poetic, and Romans is practical. Corinthians is for the romance, and Romans is for the marriage. Your focus shows an understanding and maturity beyond your years.
The love that Paul describes and that Christ teaches is not the type of love that the world outside of the Church often thinks about when they use the word “love.” That is merely romance at best, based on sexual attraction. And a marriage based only on this type of love is doomed, since it fades over time. Joy is what the Church teaches us is the aim of our love. As it is with love, this is also not the type of joy that the secular world thinks about. That type of joy is superficial happiness, or more specifically, never having to feel sorrow, guilt, or anger. A marriage based on an expectation of this type of joy is also doomed – life just is not that way.
In other words, a love or a joy that is focused inward, on whether a person gets his or her own needs met, is not the love that God intends or Christ demonstrates. The love of God is an outward love: it means fulfilling the needs of others. When you take your vows in just a few minutes, I hope, when you express your love, you make a promise to God and your spouse to meet their needs and the needs of your children. True joy comes from true love, and occurs when you love someone, whether it is sharing happy times or it is being present with someone during times of sorrow and loss.
I warn you: this is not easy. I will tell you I have failed many times. But stick with it, learn from your mistakes, and always remember your promise to each other and to God you make here today. Always remember that God's promise is to always love us. This love will be celebrated in a few minutes when we celebrate the Eucharist, which is a memorial of Christ's sacrifice for love of the world. While as humans we are incapable of God's perfect love, we must try, and the best place to try is in the family. And with God’s blessing, it will be full of love and joy.
I wish you, Allison and Manny, the joy of knowing God's love. I wish you joy in the true love that you will share with each other. I wish you joy of God blessing of children. I wish your families joy in welcoming the newest members of their now expanded families. Finally, I wish you the joy of the Church as you fulfill your vocation in life and commit to bringing this world, or at least your small part of it, one step closer to the Kingdom of God here on earth.