May 6, 2018
The following is the homily I delivered at the wedding of Steve and Tori, celebrated yesterday at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis:
I’d like to begin by talking about why all of you are here today. You each have a role in today’s ceremony and a responsibility to Steve and Tori.
Parents – you are the foundation. You have provided your children with the love and support they have needed, and I’m certain you will continue to do so in support of their marriage. They needed you growing up; they will need you moving forward.
Family and friends – you may think you are only here to kill time until the reception, where you will eat and drink at someone else’s expense. While I agree that free food does taste better, there is more to it. As much as you might like to just sit in the pew and become part of the scenery, you cannot; you should not.
You were included on Steve and Tori’s list. They thought carefully about who should be here today. You are here because they trust you. They will need your love and support, but they also need you to hold them accountable. They are depending on you to do that.
Listen carefully to the words of their vows. They are going to look one another in the eye and promise to love one another – for better or for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health. Hold them accountable to those words.
Steve and Tori, you have a pretty big role too…but I’ll talk to you later.
Prior to a wedding ceremony, I give couples a few questions to answer in writing. I like to see how their collective thoughts and perspectives mesh.
I began by asking Steve and Tori what they would tell all of you to convince you that their marriage will be a success. Together they wrote that their marriage would be one in which they show a willingness to forgive one another. That response shows great insight! They are coming into marriage with eyes wide open. It won’t all be unicorns and rainbows. There will be challenges; mistakes will be made. Forgiveness is at the core of a loving relationship…a sacramental relationship.
To my earlier point, they also mentioned that they are confident they have the unwavering support of family and friends to keep them strong. Again, they are placing trust in all of you.
Question 2 asked why they wanted to get married in a church. I thought their response was beautiful. They said, simply, “We want God and everyone else to witness the love we have for one another. God is love and He will be our foundation.”
Those first two questions, Steve and Tori answered as a couple. There were two additional questions I asked them to respond to as individuals, and not to share their responses with one another.
I like doing this because their individual personalities come out, yet you can still see common threads running through their separate responses.
I asked, “What is your hope for your marriage?” While stated in slightly different ways, I appreciated that both Steve and Tori spoke of growth. Marriage is not the culminating event of their relationship; it is the beginning. The relationship will evolve and will need to continue to grow.
Finally, I asked a simple question. Of Tori, I asked, “Why Steve?” And for Steve, “Why Tori?”
Tori gave me a whole new perspective on Steve. She mentioned his kind blue eyes, his smile, and his laugh. She even said, and I quote, “He’s my kind of perfect.” That’s pretty good, Steve.
Steve said of Tori, and I quote, “Tori is the most kind, loving, and considerate person I know. I love her with all of my heart.”
While those are both sweet responses, the most beautiful part of their separate responses was that they each spoke of being a better person because of the other. Tori said: “We are truly better together than we are individually.” Steve said, “I am at my best when I am with Tori.”
Steve and Tori chose the three readings we heard today. Between those readings and their responses to my questions, the word love is used 48 times!
That might seem overdone, but it was actually refreshing. The word love they used was referring to real love – Christ-like, unconditional, and sacramental – not frivolous “I love ice cream” or “I love being with you” kind of love.
The love Steve and Tori have focused on is spelled out in the reading we heard from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: He tells us what love is and what love isn’t.
Love is patient and kind, and it believes, hopes, and endures. Love is not jealous, pompous, rude, or selfish. Paul ends by telling us that this type of love “never fails.”
When Steve and Tori give their words of consent in a few minutes, they are consenting to love one another as God loves each of them.
Why does God want this for us? The answer to that question was in our Gospel passage from John: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”
What that type of love looks like is what I’d like to talk to the two of you about.
The reason we celebrate this occasion in a church, and the reason that marriage is a sacrament, is that your union serves as an epiphany – it reveals Christ. With marriage comes the obligation to reveal Christ.
Steve – each morning you wake up, you will need to make the decision to love Tori. You are obligated to reveal Christ to her by the way you love her – the way you talk to her, treat her, and interact with the world around you.
Tori – each morning you wake up, you will need to make the decision to love Steve. You are obligated to reveal Christ to him by the way you love him – the way you talk to him, treat him, and interact with the world around you.
Secondly, your marriage must reveal Christ to others. Others will see Christ in how you love one another and in how you, as a couple, interact with them. You put your lamp on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.
Finally, if you are blessed to have children, you will be obligated to reveal Christ to them daily. Through your love and support, they will come to know God.
What I have just shared with you is serious business. A wedding is not a quick “I do” and some dancing; it is the beginning of a marriage. And with that marriage comes the challenging responsibilities I’ve described.
So, what do you say? Are you still willing to move forward with this?