I don't ordinarily post wedding homilies, but weddings are something that I do regularly as a deacon. It seems like a right fit since typically the clerical role of the deacon is includes being married. Actually, much of the ministry that I do at my parish involves marriage in some aspect.
This last Saturday evening I had yet another opportunity to witness a marriage. Rather than going straight to my regular wedding homily--yes, I have a wedding homily that tends to get its workout--I felt the Spirit moving me to use something different, something that speaks of God's purposes over ours, and something that speaks of the sacred nature of marriage as a sacrament of salvation. So, I wrote something new for last Saturday's wedding, and I'll share it with you here.
Your choice for the gospel reading today, the Sermon on the Mount, is one that serves to encapsulate the essence of the life that leads to the kingdom of heaven. It equally serves to impart to us the essence the Christian married relationship.
What stands out is that the values professed in the Sermon are different from those of the world in which we live. Jesus lifts up the poor, the mourning, the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers.
His message is one that asks for great humility. Clearly, these are not at all the values that our world asks us to take upon ourselves in order to gain success. Yet the values of the sermon are precisely about success.
Certainly in the sacramental marriage, in one that is by virtue of baptism a channel for grace, such values have a place. They are the values that make for a successful marriage.
You learn to share, to empathize, to let the other be right, to forbear and to forgive, and more than living in peace, you learn to make peace. In marriage you learn the value of right relationship.
The sacramental marriage is one that differs sharply from the common standard and meaning of marriage. Rather than looking to love as the sustaining factor in your marriage, you look to your marriage as the sustaining factor in your love.
Learn to say to one another, “I will never leave you.” Learn to say it because you believe that your marriage, by its sacramental grace, is a participation in Christ’s salvation--for one another and for the whole world. Learn in your marriage to be participants and partners in something that goes beyond anything you might have thus far imagined to be possible.
As you go forth this evening as husband and wife, you will take with you the blessing of God’s Church. In that blessing is sacred blessedness that leads to heaven. You also will take with you the lasting gift of yourselves to each other. With great joy this evening it is your gift to one another, and God’s gift to us all, that we celebrate.