Sacrament of Matrimony
A Homily for the Occasion

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It is a privilege for me to be the official witness of the Church for this nuptial bond between Michael and Laura.  I say that it's a privilege for two reasons:  First, any wedding in the Church is a time for celebration, and to invited into a couples' new life together as their priest is always an honor.  Second, having known both Michael and Laura for a number of years now, it's very special for me to be able to participate in this wedding of two persons whom I knew as friends even before they knew each other.

I would like to begin with a story about Mike and Laura.  I was told by a very reliable unnamed source, (Ms. X ), that after Michael and Laura's first date, Michael said to Laura, "I don't want to date you anymore."  Laura, who thought that the first date went exceedingly well was exasperated and confused.  She couldn't believe what Michael was saying but before she could really reply, Michael said, "I don't want to date you anymore - I want to court you towards marriage."  As smooth as the groom's line was, I think it was more than just a clever expression.  The line belies the fact that from the beginning, Mike and Laura's relationship began with a particular focus - with an end in mind - to see if God was calling them to marriage.  So, today, we celebrate a new turn in what began as a brief friendship and which led to courtship and then engagement.  What began as a friendship has blossomed into something so much more and today we take time to dedicate this new type of friendship to God - a nuptial union between Michael and Laura.  No longer is the friendship merely casual; now it involves life-changing obligations and promises.  Now, it takes a more solemn turn and in a few minutes, the love between these two will be joined in front of God and made indissoluble - a permanent bond, until death.

So sacred is this bond that Holy Scripture begins with the story of two married persons, Adam and Eve, and Scripture ends with the great wedding feast of the Lamb in the Book of Revelation.  Throughout the Old Testament, Israel's relationship with God is seen as a nuptial bond.  Time and time again, God calls the Israelites to greater fidelity to the covenant He has established with them.  It's no surprise then, that our Lord chose a wedding as the setting in which to perform His first public miracle and it is in the context of a wedding feast in Cana that we learn both the Blessed Mother's solicitude for married couples and her instruction to you, Michael and Laura - to do whatever Jesus tells you.  It is at Cana that Mary launches Jesus into His public ministry.  Similarly, Mary invites you, Michael and Laura to place your hands in Hers' as she beckons you to answer Her Sons' call to you to seek your salvation through the vocation to marriage.  In Her own life, our Lady knew that fidelity was an essential ingredient to Her spiritual fruitfulness and her Son's commitment to die for our sins.  Mary also calls you to deep and abiding fidelity not only to each other, but to God above all others for it is in allowing yourselves to be loved by God that you will truly begin to understand what it can mean to love another.  In today's Gospel, we admire the great risk that the servants who fill the stone jars take when they present to the head waiter what they still think is water only to find that God has taken their risk and transformed it into the divinity of wine.  Michael and Laura, may both of you always take the risk of loving Jesus so that He will transform your love into the divine love with which He loves the world.

In time, you will find that marriage is no easy vocation to live.  In fact, it is under attack in the world we live in today.  You will find many threats to your vocation to remain not only faithful but fruitful in your marriage.  In our second reading from Romans, St. Paul exhorts you to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship.  It is in this humility that the Holy Spirit can transform you daily so as to know His will and how God calls you sanctity.  On a day like today, we focus on the romantic aspect of love but in time, you will discover that love is ultimately dying to oneself and making oneself a gift for the other.

Marriage, in its truest sense, is not a 50-50 deal.  It's 100-100 percent every day.  Yes, some days, you will wake up next to each other and not be "in love" but you will have then discovered that love is much more than romance and passion and sentiment.  In dying to oneself, love also means willing the good of the other.  That ultimate good entails each of you becoming saints in the world together.  That is why Pope John Paul II once remarked that it is only in dying to oneself that the human person discovers who they truly are.  No matter how successful you each become professionally; no matter how accomplished you are socially; none of it will really matter unless the love of Christ reign in your heart for it is He who is he source and end of all love in the world.

Michael and Laura, in a world that faces so much uncertainty and lacks so much hope, people will look to you to be the type of couple that lives out your vows in fidelity and joy, even joy in the midst of suffering that may come your way.  People want to see you succeed in marriage because marriage is a sign of God's love in the world.  Because you are so determined to live a fruitful marriage within the life of the Church, you will be able to reach out to those who want to believe that it's all true: that Christ's plan for marriage as it has been handed down through the ages is realistic and can be lived out joyfully in the world.  To this end, your union is to be reflective of the very inner life of the Trinity: Father loving Son and Son loving Father, each pouring Himself out for the other in a love so intense that a third person, the Holy Spirit, is breathed forward.  Michael and Laura, I pray that your complete openness to life will continue to be the hallmark and measuring guide of chastity within your marriage.  May you be blessed with many children, as many as God will give you and may you live a long time together to see your children's children.  May your spiritual fruitfulness be manifested in your generosity in accepting life from Him.

And so, the adventure begins.  Years from now, people who are here today, will stop and wonder how you two are doing.  They will want to hear that you are doing beautifully.  Each person in the Church has contributed to your formation up to this point and I suspect that all of us here will continue to support you as best we can in the years to come.  In the end, however, it is up to you and God to work out your salvation.  No one will know each of you in quite the same way as you will soon know each other.  May the sacred intimacy which you share unlock for you God's manifold graces - the graces of the sacrament of marriage.  May the grace-filled focus with which you began your relationship sustain you in your marriage and inspired by the love that the Lord Jesus has for you, may all who meet you know that Christ reigns in your hearts and that it is He who must be loved above all others.

Praised be Jesus Christ.  Now and forever!

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