Matthew Grabski-Aimee Ursic wedding (02 Jul 2011)
Songs 2. 8-10,14,16a; 8. 6-7a; Ps 128; Col 3. 12-17; Mt 5. 1-12
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Given to Each Other
Aimee and Matt, today you inaugurate your married life. 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. Let’s consider first an image from the first reading you chose.
Human voices communicate God’s ever creating and affectionate care for us. Cultivate daily your appreciation of the passage from the Song of Songs you selected. It will keep your love fresh. Let its poetry of voice, bounding, gazing, beloved, move you to be each other’s seal of unquenched love. In practical language: always and in all circumstances give your relationship the priority you have been giving it in the time you began learning each other. In that way you will keep your love fresh.
How to keep your love fresh? to keep it supple? to give priority to it in the future? St. Paul offers practical advice, and Jesus elevates the practical to align with the divine desire for you. Jesus expressed the divine desire for everyone as meaning. First, a word about meaning.
At the Last Supper Jesus expressed at length his desire to his disciples for unity and harmony so they would experience his joy: I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.1 In his prayer to his Father concluding his remarks to his disciples, Jesus sealed his promise about joy: now I am coming to you [Father]. I speak this in the world so that [my disciples] may share my joy completely.2 Joy is not the same as happiness. Joy anchors us so we can negotiate better all experiences, happy as well as difficult. By keeping your love fresh and supple and giving priority to it in the future you will open your hearts, individually and together, to Jesus’ joy over you, and you will make his joy yours.
How can you welcome Jesus’ desire? Here are two ways. First, Jesus gives us a share in his risen life through his sacraments. The Sacrament of Matrimony allows your love to be the joy giving meaning to your lives. Jesus enriches and strengthens you by [this] sacrament for your married life together in mutual and lasting fidelity.3
Your hallmark of mutual and lasting fidelity will deepen your marital joy and offer you meaning for your life together as you 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 Aimee and Matt express more than to love; they will honor each other. Marital honor is the highest esteem one spouse can show the other. Further, that mutual esteem belongs to you alone! Marital honor welcomes the spouse and the love the spouse offers. Marital honor helps spouses to grow in joy and meaning daily.
Your married-life joy and meaning are not abstract, yet you will not make your love practical for yourselves by completing a to-do list. Your married-life joy and meaning involves all of you. Your bodies, minds, emotions, likes and dislikes and deep desires will shape your mutual honor to be uniquely yours. From your mutual honor, enriched by the Sacrament of Matrimony, your marital joy and meaning will grow. Your words, bodies, minds, emotions, likes and dislikes suggest your honor registers in concrete ways. With Jesus’ gracious love, yours is a sacramental honor.
Here’s a second way to keep your love fresh: 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 your married love. They also are ways of receiving love, which will fortify and brighten your mutual search for meaning from today. Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience also help you to be more sensitive to joy: Jesus’ joy over you, and your joy over each other.
With practical wisdom St. Paul echoed Jesus, who speaks to Aimee and Matt—to each of us —the way Jesus spoke to the crowds on that mountain: as if each one is Jesus’ only concern. You are blessed no matter what life may deal you, Matt and Aimee. You and your marriage are holy.
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; you clothe each other in love; and you do so in word and deed, especially in deed. Your marriage covenant renews your joy and meaning daily when you remain alert to it.
Aimee and Matt, I am proud of you, and I wish you every good thing. I congratulate you on behalf of the church as you begin your married life. 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. Allow your mutual honor to be your way of honoring God who 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 with joy and with meaning for which you both have longed and prayed. Rejoice always that God gives you each others as one another’s joy!
- John 15.11.
- John 16.13.
- Rite of Marriage, 23.
- Words said over the chalice at the consecration at mass.