Saturday, January 02, 2010

Saturday word, 02 Jan 2010

Bernard Harrigan & Catherine Edgar wedding (02 Jan 2010) 13. 2-7, 24-25a; Ps 71; Lk 1. 5-25

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Noble Purpose

Catherine and Bernard, while others are making New Year’s resolutions, you are each other’s resolution; and not for a year but for a lifetime. You have resolved to enter life in a new way: as two individuals making one life together as spouses. I thank you for your candor with me in our conversations as you prepared yourselves to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage and to begin today to live as one for the rest of your lives. I hope you will grow more open and honest with each other and that you open your hearts and your home to the ways Jesus desires to them and bless them.

One way Jesus has already blessed you is with your love for him and his church. Your identity with him and his church, after all, moved you to want to marry each other in his church. You know well that others marry in ways that suit them. Both of you wanted to marry in the context of the church, not because you need its blessing like a piece of furniture or art, which functions well or enhances your home. You want the Sacrament of Marriage because the church enhances you and helps you negotiate your ways in the world.

Today your ways become your way together. The reading from the Book of Tobit, you chose, emphasized that. It also recalled that God created you for each other. St. Paul offered you—and all of us—practical ways to fulfill that noble purpose for which God created you to make one life together. He summarized it as heartfelt compassion, which includes kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness. The more singleminded you are about giving your relationship the same quality and effort as you have given it in learning each other, then the more you will find you practice all of those.

St. Paul invites you to clothe yourselves with the bond of perfection, his way of describing love. As you pray together, you will be loving as well as allowing Jesus to dwell in you richly. As you pray together, you will discern how to fulfill your noble purpose. As you live in the church, you will allow Jesus’ body to transform you more and more.

You will fulfill Jesus‘ commandment, to love one another selflessly. In your mutual love you will make Jesus present by the power of his Spirit: abide in my love, which was and is mutual love sealed by divine love. “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.”

Your mutual compassion for one another will fashion you from today as a domestic church.1 Your married life will help you save each other’s souls and welcome “children lovingly from God”2; your married life will also allow Jesus 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 Jesus to guide you to fulfill your noble purpose, your mutual compassion. Jesus embodied and models compassion for you and for all, and continues creating you to be the man and woman God desires you to be for each other.

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


  1. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 11, of The Second Vatican Council.
  2. Rite of Marriage, Ch.2: 42.
Wiki-image by Wolfgang Sauber of a Hands Window is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license. Wiki-image of a window depicting the Wedding at Cana is in the public domain.

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