Marc Thibeault-Bridget Cavanagh wedding (07 Jun 2007) Gn 1.26-28; Ps 145; Col 3.12-17; Mk10. 6-9 Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The Image You Are
Bridget and Marc, from this day forward you save each other's soul. Let me repeat that: from this day forward you save each other’s soul.
The communal nature of following Jesus involves more than attending to personal religious needs. Jesus calls disciples in each era to “come away from ourselves, take leave of ourselves,” as my German Jesuit brother, Karl Rahner, so concisely expressed it./1/
His phrase to “come away from ourselves, take leave of ourselves,” echoes for me the words of Jesus you asked us to hear with you on your wedding day: for this reason a man and a woman shall leave...father and mother...and the two shall become one flesh. Jesus speaks to us about more than physical location. Jesus recognizes more than individual maturity to live away from home. To become one flesh means that you reveal Jesus in a new way, you have become an image of the church.
What does it mean to become an image of the church? First, it means that, Marc, you bring Bridget closer to Jesus by revealing divine love in your person; and Bridget, you bring Marc closer to Jesus by revealing divine love in your person. To reveal Jesus to each other is down to earth, most practical as well as a great grace as St. Paul expressed it. Using a clothing-metaphor, St. Paul realized this great grace is one with our humanity. So adorn yourselves in heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another, if one as a grievance against another.
To become an image of the church also means that how you learn both to receive love from each other and to give love--in all those myriad ways St. Paul named, as well as ways you will discover on your own--how you learn both to give and to receive love from each other will allow you to move with greater Christian poise among people. People may not know how to name what they sense, but they will feel some-thing unique, for you will be revealing Jesus to them even without saying a word.
Thirdly, to become an image of the church means that affection is true communication. In your married relationship, as I mentioned in one of several conversations we enjoyed, every-thing is a medium of communication. In addition to words silence, time, eating, laughing, crying, challenging, money and sex are ways you will communicate. Your affection for each other is unique and belongs solely to you both. In future, your children will school you in showing affection and communicating in ways that will gratify you and challenge you to be more loving than you have yet to imagine.
The Sacrament of Matrimony doesn’t only offer you the opportunity to become an image of the church, an image of Jesus’ compassion. The Sacrament of Matrimony graces you to be a “domestic church”/2/ to incarnate Jesus by your life and love for the sake of our world. Image of Jesus’ compassion and his church is your vocation of married maturity, which flows from your baptismal maturity. To continue to grow more mature requires keeping near Jesus.
The Sacrament of Matrimony graces you to do that. Staying connected with the church graces you to do that. Living the Christian life, beginning with each other in those practical ways St. Paul listed, graces you to grow more mature in and with Jesus.
Bridget and Marc, and their families and friends, I don’t toss the word “grace” casually. We know lovers are not always compassionate and kind; not always gentle and patient; lovers do not always bear with one another. Grace helps us to do so and to work with one another genuinely to forgive and to learn how to move forward with one another lovingly and honestly.
I’m proud of you both and delighted in your future. I’m grateful to you for being honest with one another. I congratulate you personally and on behalf of the church, who rejoices that you have agreed to save each other day by day and to reveal Jesus by your married life and love to us, who know you, as well as to people, who do not.
/1/ His The Love of Jesus and the Love of Neighbor. New York: Crossroad, p. 85.
/2/ Gaudium et spes, The Second Vatican Council.