Sam Gibson-Ellen Malone wedding (07 Aug 2010)
Sgs 2. 8-10, 14, 16a; 8. 6-7a; Ps 118; 1Co 12. 31-13.8; Mk 10. 6-9
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The Greater Challenge
Ellen and Sam, we rejoice with you today. We also join you in looking forward to your future in which you will make one life together. That is what Christian marriage is: two individuals making one life together. How to do that? Your scripture selections offer some clues, clues you will make concrete day by day.
First, cultivate your appreciation in the passage from the Song of Songs, you selected for your first reading this evening. Help each other to sense awe and God’s vivid grace in its words. The routine way God communicates God’s love to us is through other people. Your voices will echo God’s love for one another as you speak to each other respectfully, honestly and patiently. Each of you chooses the other as beloved. The scriptural witness asserts that God calls each human beloved. Your human voices will communicate beyond yourselves; they will allow God to communicate God’s faithful love to you and to others.
We Catholics believe God, who creates us, indeed loves us into being, brings spouses together. The Song of Songs gives dynamism to our conviction. From a distance the bride caught sight of her spouse: my lover, here he comes springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills, until he was near enough for her to hear his constant call, “Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!” God’s word is always clothed in human language and its metaphors. In these words gender operates. We men are no less part of God’s affection and God’s desire to become who God has created. We men do well to be alert to the ways God addresses us, and close friends and lovers help us be alert to God’s affection for us.
Human voices communicate God’s ever creating and affectionate care for us. One result of cultivating your appreciation of the passage from the Song of Songs you selected, Sam and Ellen, is that you will keep your love fresh. In all times and circumstances give to your relationship the priority you have been giving to it in the time you began learning each other.
How to keep your love fresh? to keep it supple? to give priority to it in the future? St. Paul’s words you selected are apt. Love is patient and kind, but sometimes lovers are not. Love isn’t jealous, but sometimes lovers are. Love doesn’t insist on its own way, but sometimes lovers do. Love does not brood over injury or rejoice over wrongdoing, but sometimes lovers do. All of us get challenged how to love. Yet, another challenge exists; it is overlooked, and it prepares us to love. Your married life, Ellen and Sam, will school you to receive love in new ways.
That is vital because receiving each other’s love graciously and freely equips you to give love the same way: to one another; to your children; to family and friends; and people you may never know, especially those in need.
You will notice moments which will challenge you to receive each other’s love and to give love to one another in those gracious, freeing ways. In those moments take heart! Remind each other that receiving your love and sharing it together is your married vocation.
Your marital vocation revolves around love: God’s love for you, which has drawn you together to make one life together; receiving God’s love from one another; and giving God’s love to others graciously and freely. Solemnly pledging your love in a few moments through your wedding promises is as much your gift to us and the world as it is your gift to one another.
Sam and Ellen, I’m thrilled for 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. Praise God each day for bringing you together. As you show each other patience, one most handsome and practical face of love, be eager to see the best in each other and build on it. As each of you experiences a difficulty or question or setback, shoulder it as one. Let edifying each other and being united in adversity as well as in joy be your signature,1 identifying you as friends of Jesus as well as one another for the sake of our world.
- “Signature” is what the seal in the first reading suggests. A signature-seal was worn on the arm, wrist, as a ring or as a pendant.