Today’s readings are a celebration of the deeply beautiful mystery of marriage. When I first became pastor at St. Mary’s in 1999, I had never been in a parish, and hence, had celebrated only a very few marriages. I was worried that in a parish setting where marriages are frequent, I would quickly become weary of celebrating them. I worried that I would be unable to enter into the joy of those getting married, and that I would ruin their special day by looking like someone who would rather be somewhere else. To my great surprise, to this day, I love celebrating marriages. I have never tired of it, and I never will. This is because the more marriages one celebrates, the more opportunities one has to witness first-hand and to meditate upon the beautiful mystery of this fundamental human relationship.
In marriage, two people really do become one, in heart and mind, in their shared perception of reality, in body and soul. For those who have eyes to see, this oneness is visible. I have seen it in countless couples. Once one has seen it, it makes it immeasurably easier to appreciate the oneness which we affirm to exist between Christ and us, in his body. Alongside the very real oneness of the marital relationship and in contrast with it is the fact that both parties to this oneness are made to grow as a consequence of their belonging to it. Many, many spouses will testify that they have grown, that they have become more as a partner to their spouse, as a result of their oneness, than they would ever have become outside of it. This combination of the oneness of the marital relationship and the flourishing of each individual in the relationship as a direct result of the relationship is to me a reality of bottomless wonder to behold.
We are planning to offer another group marriage convalidation ceremony for parishioners who are not married sacramentally in October, 2019. You will hear more about this as the event approaches. We will cap the number of couples at ten, in order to make the event manageable, but our hope is that by limiting the scale of the event, we will be in a position to offer it annually. I hope and pray that all of our couples who are not married sacramentally will be inspired to avail themselves of this offer. The specific grace of the sacrament of marriage is that it ensures the fullness of the oneness to which all marital relationships are called, in the couple that receives this sacrament. Or more accurately put – the couple that celebrates this sacrament. Because the real celebrants of the sacrament of marriage are the two people who marry. The sacrament occurs in their exchange of vows. The presiding priest or deacon is actually just a witness. Would that all the couples in our parish will come to live their relationship with the benefit of this precious sacrament.
In the meantime, let us just wonder at the genius of God. He has fashioned humankind in such a way as to make available to virtually all humankind a relationship which perfectly mirrors his relationship with humankind, and his Son’s relationship with his Church. A relationship of unconditional love and commitment. He has created us in such a way that we are naturally drawn to want to love – one person – in the way that He loves humankind, in the way that his Son loves his Body, the Church. Because in God, and in God’s will for us, love is everything, he has placed at the most basic level of human nature and existence, a potential, a pre-disposition for loving somebody, a real flesh and blood person, the way He loves us all. This is truly a wonder to behold. Even as we take the full measure of the wonder of this fundamental reality, let us lift up to God a prayer of acknowledgement and thanksgiving for it.