Homily for David and Miranda's Wedding
Why get married in the Church?
In our modern times, there can be a great tendency to avoid getting married in the Church. It seems like a harder way. Maybe the Church does not really understand modern life. Why stay involved in the Church if it is just a relic of the past?
Your decision to get married sacramentally points to a great love for the Church and a willingness to swim countercurrent to do what is right.
Today is your wedding day, a day marked by joy and hope. And yet, this is also a day when you are called to share in the Paschal Mystery of Christ. Christ died on the Cross in order to save us from our sins. In the Church, we have seven sacraments instituted by Christ. The Sacraments of Initiation are Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. The Sacraments of Healing are Penance and Anointing of the Sick. The Sacraments of Service are Holy Orders and Matrimony. Both of the Sacraments of Service are ordered to serving the Christian community. They are thus intimately related to the reality of Christ’s death on the Cross.
How is it that you are united to Christ on the Cross. Pope John Paul II shared some of his thoughts in the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio.
Spouses are therefore the permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross; they are for one another and for the children witnesses to the salvation in which the sacrament makes them sharers. Of this salvation event marriage, like every sacrament, is a memorial, actuation and prophecy: "As a memorial, the sacrament gives them the grace and duty of commemorating the great works of God and of bearing witness to them before their children. As actuation, it gives them the grace and duty of putting into practice in the present, towards each other and their children, the demands of a love which forgives and redeems. As prophecy, it gives them the grace and duty of living and bearing witness to the hope of the future encounter with Christ."(Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 13)
You are called to be a memorial. You are getting married just before the celebration of All Souls. We remember the dead. What is one of the main things we do? We go to the cemetery and see the headstones that remind us of our dear ones that have gone before you. Surely, there are loved ones who you would love to be here, but are impeded by the fact that they are dead. And yet, we remember them and this makes them present in some mysterious way. Similarly, your presence and witness as Christian spouses recalls for all of the Christian community the reality of the death of Christ on the Cross. As of now, you no longer live for yourself, but for your spouse. David lives for Miranda and Miranda lives for David. This is part of the significance of the sacrament.
Your sacrament is also an actuation. Our world is dying from a lack of love. We can see this large-scale in the great world conflicts that grab our attention on TV. But we see it as well on a smaller scale when we see so many families that are ripped apart by division. Some of my priest-brothers have told me stories of visiting orphanages in Haiti. The staff is overwhelmed by the sheer number of babies. This makes it so that each child does not have enough personal contact, especially physical contact. Some of these babies die. It is not malnourishment or sickness; it is simply from a lack of love. Looking out at the world, we could come to stop believing in love. You are called through your marriage to be an actuation of God’s love in the world. Your testimony is supposed to make the rest of us believe.
Your marriage is a also a prophecy. The love of God will win out in the end. While we all follow the horrendous happenings in the Holy Land, I have been impressed by the highest-ranking Catholic official in the region. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, has written a letter calling for peace and encouraging his flock. He begins by quoting the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John.
“I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have tribulations, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (Jn. 16:33). We find ourselves on the eve of Jesus’ Passion. He addresses these words to His disciples, who will shortly be tossed about, as if in a storm, before His death. They will panic, scatter and flee, like sheep without a shepherd. Yet, this last word of Jesus is an encouragement. He does not say that He shall win, but that He has already won. Even in the turmoil to come, the disciples will be able to have peace. This is not a matter of theoretical irenic peace, nor of resignation to the fact that the world is evil, and we can do nothing to change it. Instead it is about having the assurance that precisely within all this evil, Jesus has already won. Despite the evil ravaging the world, Jesus has achieved a victory, and established a new reality, a new order, which after the resurrection will be assumed by the disciples who were reborn in the Spirit. (Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, October 24, 2023)
In your life too, turmoil will come. But your love for each other, based firmly on the sacrament you celebrate today, will see you through. Christ has already won the victory. It is up to you to continue his good work.