Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saturday word, 14 Jun 2008

Greg Hoener/Bethany Lyons wedding (14Jun2008) Gn 2.18-24; Ps; 1Jn 4.7-12; Mk 10 6-9
Homily of Rev. Paul D. Panaretos, S.J.
A New Harmony of Salvation

Greg and Bethany, I compliment you on your selection of scripture readings. They challenged me to see anew about our life with God and about your future together with God and each other. I’d like to explore that briefly with you and with your guests this afternoon.

Our Christian tradition has always offered us many ways to consider God and us in relationship. One way is as Creator. I have found it helpful, and people with whom I have shared what I am about to share with you have told me it has helped them, to consider God creating. The emphasis is on the verb more than the noun: focusing on creating not just Creator. Training our inmost attention on God creating broadens our appreciation of God, our Creator. Considering, even praying, “God, who creates me,” deepens a person’s sense that God works in and through all things at this moment for me and with me. We collaborate more closely with God creating us and more readily glorify God with our bodies, our personalities, ourselves.

Bethany and Greg, you make this concrete for us by inviting us to consider God creating you. Your choice of verses from the Book of Genesis is a familiar, perhaps so familiar that its words flew by our ears. God was convinced that the crown of creation, the human, needed another like himself: it is not good for the man to be alone. Did you notice how God remedied the man’s loneliness? The Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The point is not how God did that. The point is that God created the woman out of the man: the man [who had been naming all that God created] said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”

Flesh connoted the entire human being for ancient Hebrews because their language had no word for “body.” The man implied "self" by his statement, not merely this one had flesh rather than feathers, scales or coarse skin. The man saw himself in the woman. You know that the first humans saw more than similarities or family resemblances. They saw the humanity they shared, their humanity which God creates at each moment.

Because God creates us at each moment, we aren’t only human; we are like God. That means we are not the highest animals. Instead, we are “spirits clothed in flesh,” to use the venerable expression of St. Thomas Aquinas. Our kinship with God, that we are spirits clothed in flesh, surpasses human generation, which is a blessed effort Greg and Bethany will enjoy. Our Christian tradition has distinguished God creating us moment by moment to be like God with the word, begotten: Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.

Divine begetting produces effects, qualities God infuses in us. The specifically Christian quality is Christlike love. Christian love is no emotion. Christian love is authentic compassion freely and readily extended to others. God infuses within us this godly effect of Christian love at baptism. Our lives seek to cultivate authentic compassion freely and readily extended to others. Bethany and Greg, making one life out of your two lives is your Christian future of cultivating authentic compassion.

The first school in being begotten by God is the family. Christian spouses are a “domestic church,” /1/ and they enflesh the divine qualities, esp. authentic compassion freely and readily extended: first to one another; to family and friends; to the poor and those on the margins of society; and then to your children.

Bethany and Greg, today you begin to fashion your domestic church. Your married life will help you save each other’s souls and welcome “children lovingly from God”/2/; your married life will also allow God to work through you for the sake of the world. You will never lose your individual selves. Instead, both of you will strive to make one life together. Even more than the way you give love, the way you receive love from each other will allow God to keep bringing to perfection in you authentic compassion, which Jesus embodied and models for you and for all, and to keep creating you to be the man and woman God desires you to be for each other.

I’m very proud of you and, I wish you every good thing. I congratulate you on behalf of the church. It is true that God created you for one another. It is even more true that God will create you each moment for everything ahead of you. Please remember that in pledging yourselves to each other you allow God to work through you for the salvation of each other as well as our world. As you forge one life together God begets something new: a new harmony to feel God creating you and your love for each other, and to help us and others feel God recreating the world as we see you receive love as well as give it.

/1/ Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 11 of The Second Vatican Council.
/2/ Rite of Marriage, Ch.2: 44.
Wiki-image of wedding floristry used under the GFDL; Jason Hutchen's exchange of rings is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.

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