Saturday, July 14, 2012

Michael and Michelle's Wedding

In preaching at this wedding I have the great advantage of knowing both the bride and the groom—Michelle as an active and valued parishioner here, and Michael, though belonging to Holy Cross Parish, as a regular member of our group for young men.

So I know what I’m talking about when I tell you that these readings you’ve just heard reflect beautifully the love and commitment you are gathered to witness today. I know that the Word of God has shaped their decision to marry, and will guide them each day of their married life.

I’m not sure, mind you, that they were quite as scriptural as the woman who fell in love with the man who always sat in the next pew on Sunday. After Mass one Sunday she told him she was going to get married, and when he asked who, she said to look it up in the Second Book of Samuel, chapter 12, verse 7.

When the fellow got home and checked the verse, he found the prophet Nathan's words to King David: “You are the man."

So how do the readings present the plan for marriage that Michelle and Michael are embracing before our eyes? Well, I’m sure I could get a sentimental sigh from most of you if I said “this is a marriage made in heaven.”

But that’s not how I’m going to answer. What I want to say is: “this is a marriage made for heaven.” And that’s a far more important thing.

At the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus changed water into wine. But that was less of a miracle than what he did to marriage: he changed a natural good into a supernatural good. Marriage, part of God’s plan for creation, became part of His plan for salvation.

Dear Michelle and Michael, I don’t think I’m putting words in your mouth when I tell the congregation that you would not be marrying each other unless you were convinced it was a path to heaven.

I’m quite sure that you chose the exquisite love poem from the Song of Songs not only to celebrate your love for each other, but to unite it to the love of the Lord that exalts human love and draws it into the divine. For how can we speak of love that can’t be quenched or drowned, except with a view to eternity?

Even the words of the Psalm, celebrating life in the home, point to the one blessing that has no end.

About six weeks ago I visited Lisieux, the home of St. Therese, sometimes called the Little Flower. I was not as moved as I’d hoped to be. The convent where she lived and died had been modernized, not particularly well, and her shrine didn’t really impress me all that much.

What stood out for me was the tomb of her parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, who were beatified by Pope Benedict in 2008. This couple had many difficulties and sorrows in their married life, and they lived in very difficult times, but they endured everything in one shared conviction: that God alone was their strength, and heaven alone was their goal. 

As an article in the current issue of Columbia magazine stated, “they centered themselves entirely on the promise of heaven.”

Michelle and Michael, I’m not going to suggest you do the same, because I think you’ve already made that decision. You have already heard Mary say to you “Do whatever he tells you.”

 Following her direction, today you are offering your love as water, to be turned into the wine of a covenant with God and one another that will lead you surely to the wedding feast that has no end.

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