February 11, 2020
On Saturday evening, I had the honor of presiding over the wedding of Kathy and Jeff. It was a second wedding for both, each widowed in their prior marriage. They wanted their deceased spouses, Keith and Vicki, to be a part of the service. I tried to do that for them in the following homily:
Kathy and Jeff – thank you for allowing me to be a part of this day.
At the beginning of this service, I welcomed all of you here. I think it is important that we also acknowledge the presence of Keith and Vicki. Kathy and Jeff made it clear to me that they want them to be a part of this celebration.
The Church teaches us about the communion of saints – those that have gone before us marked with the sign of faith. Furthermore, when engaged in the celebration of the sacraments, we are joined by the communion of saints. Which means Keith and Vicki are here with us in the assembly, and we embrace that knowledge.
We celebrate the union of Kathy and Jeff tonight knowing they have already experienced love and sacramental marriage. However, it is just as crucial this second time that they, and all of us, understand the meaning behind their statement of intent.
In a few minutes, Kathy and Jeff will be stating their intentions with all of you as witnesses. Listen carefully to what they say. I will ask them if they will love and honor one another for the rest of their lives. They will respond, “We will.”
That statement of intent at a wedding often gets lost. We think – well, they’re getting married, so of course they agree to love one another; but we hear the word love so often that we tend to take it for granted.
I want you to pay special attention when they say, “We will,” because the love to which they are consenting is different. 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.
Kathy and Jeff chose a reading that referenced what is needed to attain this type of love. In the second reading, Paul encouraged the Philippians to keep focused on Whatever is true…Whatever is honorable…whatever is just…Whatever is lovely…whatever is gracious…
The sacrament of marriage is true, honorable, just, lovely, and gracious. To maintain such qualities requires selfless love on the part of both spouses.
I have presided over quite a few weddings – let’s be honest…weddings of much younger couples. In those weddings, I emphasized the sacramental nature of marriage. I highlighted the fact that each person has the responsibility to help the other get to heaven. Marriage is an epiphany – it reveals Christ. With marriage comes the obligation to reveal Christ…to one another and to others. In this case, also to their children and grandchildren.
Kathy and Jeff have the advantage of experience. Their marriages to Keith and Vicki taught them how to love selflessly…made them capable of love…left them a legacy of love.
They come into this marriage embracing that legacy and confident in their ability to love one another, thanks to the love they have already experienced. They will be capable of what we heard in the letter to the Philippians: Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen…
The love they experienced with Keith and Vicki will forever be written on their hearts.
Today Kathy and Jeff will form a new covenant. In the first reading from Jeremiah, we heard: I will make a new covenant and write it upon their hearts.
This covenant will be new — it will be in addition to their former covenant, it will not negate it. I am confident that both of their hearts are big enough for the additional writing.
Which is what brought us to this church tonight. It was important to Kathy and Jeff that this be a sacramental marriage – that it take place in a church, in the presence of God, and the communion of saints, and all of us.
They have invited God into their marriage. Because of that, I am certain they can take on whatever might come their way.
So, Kathy and Jeff, if you are certain as well, please join me at the top of the steps to begin the Marriage Rite.