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Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Sacrament of Marriage - Homily for October 4, 2009

Today’s first reading began by stating that “It is not good for man to be alone and that God wanted to make a suitable partner for him.” God initially created animals to be man’s companions but none proved to be a suitable partner. So God created woman. But He didn’t just create a woman out of nothing as he could have; He took a piece of the man and created her.

The man replied to the creation “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”

Jesus teaches us that they are no longer two but one flesh and speaking of the Sacrament of Marriage, “What God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

We all know that over 50% of marriages end in divorce, I believe that most of these were thought of as more of a “Contractual Marriage” (an agreement) than a Sacrament. A Sacramental Marriage is a Covenant by which a man a woman establishes between themselves a partnership for the whole of life. Usually we think of this covenant in a rather personal and individual context. It exists for the good of the spouses and the good of their children.

We sometimes think of the wedding ceremony, which establishes this covenant as belonging to the Bride and Groom, as if it were their wedding alone. They can invite whomever they want, sing their favorite songs, and arrange the ceremony as they please. However, the Second Vatican Council reminds us that the Marriage covenant exists not only for the good of the partners and their children, but also for the good of the church and the good of society at large.

Marriage is a Sacrament.

In each of the sacraments a window opens and we can glimpse the mystery of God and God’s plan for the salvation of the world. In a Christian Marriage we see that God was not content to be alone. Out of love God created us and all that is.

God is faithful no matter what. Whether we are faithful or faithless, God is faithful; whether we wander away in sin or remain in the embrace of love, God is always there and is ever ready to embrace us. This Sacramental Sign, which the husband and wife give to each other, they also give to the entire community of witnesses.

I am guessing that most of us have never personally seen God, however the Sacramental Marriage and the love and relationship that flows between a husband and wife is one of the closest things we have on this earth that represents God’s relationship with us.

The fidelity of Christian husbands and wives represents that love and that relationship that God offers to us. This relationship is a mystery, a mystery for sure……

I was given one of the greatest gifts a child could every receive. I was given two parents who understood the sacrament of marriage. By no means were they perfect, rather imperfect in many ways and they knew it. But their marriage was sacred. They endured trials, disasters, and enjoyed delight, all while having 7 children and raising 6 boys, at times very unruly boys. That was a trial within itself. I am sure that there were times when they felt that they had grown apart, I know there were times when one or both had felt betrayed and hurt beyond imagination, yet they endured, forgave, loved, and understood. They knew that a Sacramental Marriage was much more than a personal endeavor, that it was holy, and it was intimately connected to God’s love for us.

We live in a culture that in many ways has forgotten the holiness and permanence of marriage. Almost all of us have had some connection with a divorce. Divorce always brings hurt, pain, and can leave scars that last a lifetime, if not for the spouses, often for the children.

I am saddened to say that many have left the church, or neglect the communion of Jesus due to a divorce and remarriage, yet they have not taken any steps to resolve this issue with the church. There are many misconceptions regarding what can and cannot be repaired. Neither God, nor the church would ever want to push anyone away, rather just the opposite. Mercy and Love are God’s greatest gifts. If you or someone you know, has endured a divorce and remarried outside of the church, and has a desire to return to full communion, please don’t hesitate to contact one of the Priests or Deacons and begin the process of repair. It is our greatest desire and would be our honor to assist you with reuniting with the church and the Sacraments.

In closing – and returning to today’s message of love.

We as Christians should understand that God does not desire for us to be alone. He desires communion between us, with Jesus, and ultimately with Him. There is no greater want in this world than the desire to be loved. However, to be loved, one must love. To be forgiven, one must forgive, to be understood, one must understand.

God has given Us much more than we could ever give in return.

This understanding of God has been given to us as a guide for earthly living and earthly marriage and we should be eternally grateful. Of all the great obstacles in marriage today, not unlike the obstacles identified in history, these struggles usually have at their roots a common theme of pride or entitlement. Pride and entitlement only creates division and hurt.

Yet one cannot feel grateful and entitled at the same time.

If we could only view life and our relationships through grateful eyes, pride and entitlement would never be our burden. Gratitude and entitlement cannot share the same breath, nor thought.

Think about this for a minute.

Gratitude and Entitlement are opposites; they cannot share the same breath, nor thought.

Marriage is a Journey, where two individuals through God’s grace, travel together, assist each other while growing in holiness, help pick each other up, support each other, forgive each other, love each other, and serve each other in the same manner as God does for us.

That is what a Christian marriage is.

That is what a sacramental marriage is.

Trials, temptations, and obstacles are a part of every marriage, but if we focus our attention on God, seek our God for answers, strengthened by the Sacraments, and can transcend our own self-will, imitate God’s love, mercy, and permanence, our marriages will be fruitful beyond belief.
Our Sacramental marriages will be fruitful beyond belief!

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