Travis L. Grundke-Leah Gardner wedding (03 Jul 2010)
Tob 8. 5-7a; Col 3. 12-17; Mt 5. 13-16
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Leah and Travis, today you inaugurate your noble purpose in life. St. Paul offers practical advice, and Jesus counsels you in a way that surprises because of what salt meant to him and his Jewish heritage. First, my word about your noble purpose. While marriage is a human vocation, you recognize that it is also more. Sharing your vows with each other in the presence of this faith community indicates you recognize marriage participates in the life of God and that it flows from your baptisms.
Catholic marriage acknowledges that. Its rite begins to testify to that, as you and your guests will shortly hear: “Travis and Leah,” I will begin, “Christ Jesus has already consecrated you in baptism and now he enriches and strengthens you by [this] sacrament” for your married life together “in mutual and lasting fidelity.”1 What is the hallmark of mutual and lasting fidelity? It is this—your noble purpose is this: to receive each other’s love.
Giving love is much easier than receiving love. One reason is that when I show love I am in control. When I receive another’s love, I am not in control.
The temptation exists when I show love to get something, to influence another or to be noticed. Receiving love—from the smallest kindness to another sharing in my joy or sorrow—happens to me as I am, deserving or not.
We receive God’s living love in numerous ways, including: the sacraments; through prayers said for us; through the example of family and friends; and by the good done our way by people we know and people we don’t. Receiving love shapes us and equips us to show love to others.
The marriage vows which I asked you to ponder throughout your marriage preparation process can sound as though giving love is the goal of each of you. Friends, you will hear them express more than to love; they will honor each other. Marital honor is the highest esteem each spouse can show the other. Further, that mutual esteem belongs to you alone! Marital honor welcomes the spouse and the love the spouse offers. Your bodies, minds, emotions, likes and dislikes and deep desires will shape your mutual honor to be uniquely yours. The words, bodies, minds, emotions, likes and dislikes, suggest concrete things not ideals. Here St. Paul’s clothing-image offers you vivid aid.
The total of pieces of material given particular colors and arranged in particular fashion is a garment. In a similar way love is more than techniques. Ways of learning each other and ways of coping with what life deals us which you incorporate into yourselves shape love as your living garments. Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience are not techniques, they form the wardrobe of you married love. They also are ways of receiving love, which is your noble purpose from today.
Jesus reminds you to be for each other salt and light. Light needs no comment. How did Jesus understand salt? At the beginnings of Judaism salt was part of the recipe for incense used when offering sacrifice to God, who entered a covenant with his people.2 Salt even described the covenant: All the holy offerings that the Israelites present to the Lord [are] a covenant of salt forever before the Lord for you and your descendants as well.3
We have a more narrow view of salt than did Jesus. Covenant is a very spacious word because it is a living thing for believers in God. Your marriage covenant is your mutual life from today onward. You make each other holy; you become each other’s heart; you form one body; and you do so in word and deed, especially in deed.
Travis and Leah, I am proud of you, and I wish you every good thing. I congratulate you on behalf of the church. You demonstrated to me and to others, who help couples prepare for Christian marriage, that you are ready to assume your vocation. As you are patient with each other, also be eager to see the best in each other and build on it. As each of you experiences a difficulty or question or setback, endure it, not alone, but as one. For so has the God of our ancestors created you: as one for the world; for one another’s joy; as an incarnation of the new and everlasting covenant4 Jesus has secured by his dying and rising; and to help you savor life in your future together as well as in the age to come.
- Rite of Marriage, xx.
- Exodus 30.34-38.
- Numbers 18.19. See also Leviticus 2.11-13 and 2Chronicles13.5.
- Words said over the chalice at the consecration at mass.