Beyond “I Do”

January 11, 2015 – Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:9-11)

Carol and I helped lead a Tobit Marriage Preparation Retreat this weekend for 26 engaged couples.

We try to make time to lead one of these retreats each year. While we certainly hope that the engaged couples benefit greatly from the experience, we have selfish motivation for leading the retreat as well. First, it is wonderful away time for Carol and I. The time we spend together preparing for and delivering talks about marriage helps grow our relationship. Sharing stories from our 31 years of marriage warms our hearts and reminds us how much we love one another.

We are also able to spend time with the other presenter couple, the Murphys. Tracy and Murph are good friends and we have an opportunity, at least once a year, to rekindle that friendship.

Finally, in the engaged couples, we see the future of the Church. Good young people who take the sacrament of marriage seriously, and want to grow and nurture happy, faith-filled marriages. Spending time with them, talking with them, gives us hope and makes us proud.

Here is a brief summary of the homily I prepared for our Mass:

And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” 

Today’s Gospel is one of several Gospels  – the magi coming to see the baby Jesus, the wedding feast at Cana, the transfiguration – that contribute to the epiphany, through which God reveals Himself to His people.

Take a moment to turn toward your partner and look into his or her eyes. This person you have chosen to marry also contributes to the epiphany. God is revealing Himself to each of you through the other.

There’s more…

As the two of you exchange vows on your wedding day, you will be revealing God to all of those in attendance. As you go out into the world, your lives as a married couple will be revealing God to everyone who observes you living out those vows. If God blesses you with children, you will be revealing God to them.

Marriage is not a simple “I do” and done. You will each have the obligation to help get your spouse to heaven and as a couple you will have the obligation to contribute to the epiphany – to reveal God to His people – through the witness of your marriage.

These are intimidating obligations. However, if you have invited God to be a part of the marriage, if He is the focus of your life together, these obligations can be met through the course of your daily lives.

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