July 7, 2019
I had the honor of presiding at the wedding of Anna and Jack at St. Louis de Mort Catholic Church in Fishers, IN yesterday. The following are the words I shared in my homily:
I begin with a note to the invited guests: You play a role in today’s ceremony. Whether you were aware of it or not, you are now acting as witnesses on behalf of the Catholic Church.
You may have thought you were just here to kill time until the reception, looking forward to the opportunity to eat and drink at someone else’s expense. While I will be the first to acknowledge that nothing tastes better than free food – you have a greater calling today.
When you entered the church, you became a witness to this marriage and one of many designated supporters of Anna and Jack. What does this role entail?
To begin with, in a few minutes, Anna and Jack will be stating their intentions in front of all of you. Listen carefully to what they say and hold them to it. I will ask them if they will love and honor one another as man and wife for the rest of their lives. If they remember their line, they will respond, “We will.”
Keep in mind that the love to which they are consenting is unique. It is the type of love that our gospel indicated, “no human being must separate.” The love we speak of during the Marriage Rite calls the couple to love as God loves. It is a love focused outward, directed toward others for the benefit of others. It is a selfless love.
My experience with Anna and Jack has shown me they understand this type of love. Anna and Jack get it. I am confident that their “We will” response will be heartfelt and intentional. It may sound simple when they say it…but it is not.
You are witnesses. Listen to them say, “We will.” Then, from a place of love, hold them accountable. That’s why you are here.
We have a pretty good idea why Anna and Jack are here. But why are they here? In a church?
When I’m asked to preside at a wedding, I often ask the couple to give a written response to some questions. One of the questions I asked Anna and Jack was, Why is it important to get married in the church?
Here is a portion of their shared response: We love our faith and couldn’t imagine starting our new life together anywhere but the Church! We believe that marriage is a Sacrament. Through this Sacrament, we will receive many graces as a couple to live as ambassadors of God’s love as husband and wife.
What a beautiful image – “ambassadors of God’s love.” Their response shows a mature understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage. As I said, they get it.
There was another question I asked them to respond to separately. The question was simple, “Why did you choose this person to marry?”
Before I share their responses, I want you to listen again to the words we heard moments ago from 1 Corinthians: Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous…it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered…it rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
Keeping these words in mind, now listen to the words of Anna and Jack. When asked, “Why did you choose Anna?”, here is some of what Jack wrote:
“Anna has pushed me in my faith and led me closer to Christ. She has truly made me a better person and is selfless in her love. She also happens to be the most caring and loving person I have ever met. She constantly puts others before herself and is always going out of her way to be kind to others. I am honored to call her my wife and can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her.”
And here is some of what Anna wrote about choosing Jack:
“Jack sees potential in me before I even see it in myself. He is humble, determined, and selfless. He loves his family, he loves my family, and he encourages me in my Catholic faith. He works really hard at everything he does, whether it be his job, his relationship with others, or his relationship with God. Jack embodies 1 Corinthians so well. He is everything I have prayed for in a husband and I can’t wait to be his wife!”
The words of our second reading come alive in their responses: “Love is kind; it does not seek its own interests; it believes all things. Love never fails.”
Once again, Anna and Jack get it.
I have a few more thoughts to share with the couple. (I moved over to speak with Anna and Jack directly)
In this sacramental marriage, each of you has the responsibility to help the other get to heaven. Your marriage is an epiphany – it reveals Christ. With marriage comes the obligation to reveal Christ.
Jack – each morning you wake up, you will need to make the decision to love Anna. 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.
Anna – each morning you wake up, you will need to make the decision to love Jack. 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. Your marriage will be a 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.
If you are up for the challenge, please take your positions at the top of the steps…