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‘Thank you for your witness of faithful love’

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

Sept. 24, 2014

Bishop LaValley’s homily for the 2014 Marriage Jubilee, Sept. 21 at St. Mary’s Cathedral

A reporter was interviewing a couple on their Golden Wedding Anniversary.  Among other questions, he asked the wife:  “Do you have any advice for newlyweds today?” 

Quickly, she replied:   “Sure do.  Let your husband make all the big decisions.”

Naturally, the reporter asked, “And what do you consider big decisions?”

“That’s simple,” she explained, “he decides what the president should do and not do, what laws Congress should pass, what the United Nations should be doing.  I just make decisions about little things like what kind of job he should have, what pay he should get, where we should live, and what chores he should do around the house.  But I let him make all the really big decisions.”

My sisters and brothers, we have gathered in this sacred space of St. Mary’s Cathedral to celebrate a really big decision each of you made, when, before God and family, your lips voiced two words that will reverberate into eternity:  “I do.” 

Those two words or similar expressions of your hearts, paved the way for the beautiful, sacred vocation of a partnership of an intimate life and love. 

We’ve gathered here to thank God and to thank you for showing us what faith and unconditional love can do.  Your life of wedded love is a homily that needs to be preached to the whole world, a world that sometimes seems to have gone amuck, where the desires and the fleeting feelings of the human person have trumped God’s ways and relegated the divine teaching either to the closet or the dustbin. 

It’s no secret, a wide gap has developed between the Church’s teaching concerning marriage and the family and the lived convictions of many Christians.  The Church’s teaching appears, even to many Catholics, to be out of touch with the world and with real life.  But even the Church of the first centuries was confronted with concepts and ideas of marriage and family that were different from that which Jesus

Today, as it did back then, the Church walks the path of life with the people of our day, not as Pope Francis says, to impose, but to propose Jesus’ teaching.  Jesus did not stop teaching the will of the Father just because people didn’t agree or because they found God’s ways difficult to live. 

We know that the more we veer from God’s ways, the more trouble we encounter.  That’s why one of our established diocesan priorities is to strengthen faith formation in family life.

You know better than anyone else that the intimate partnership that describes marriage is not a mutually agreed upon statement that ensures that each party invests only fifty percent of themselves. 

A marriage will never endure when one or both of the parties are busy tabulating who sacrifices more for the other.  The loving relationship that Christ has with the Church is reflected in the love relationship of husband and wife.  Such love knows not how to count the costs.

Several days ago, Pope Francis officiated at the marriage of twenty couples at St. Peter’s Basilica.  He told them that married life can be “tiring, burdensome, and often, even nauseating.”  He was alerting them to the costs inherent to the marriage union.

We wouldn’t be surprised to learn that most of you have experienced those sort of feelings and perhaps, with even more colorful words!

Two young brothers were having lunch.  Suddenly, a huge squabble broke out with the two youngsters shouting at each other:  “That’s not fair.  You have more cake than me!”  “That’s because I cleaned my room better than you did!” “That doesn’t matter!  Mommy! David got more cake than me.”  They almost got into a fistfight. 

Mom intervened very quickly, taking away dessert from both of them and sending them to their rooms, hearing in the background, “That’s not fair!”

We spend a lot of time concerning ourselves with what we believe to be fair in life.  Wasn’t that the main concern of the workers in today’s Gospel?  Never mind that I got what I agreed to.  Somebody else is getting more than me.

We are quick to demand our fair share of things.  Many marriages have broken down because one party didn’t feel that he or she received their “fair share,” whatever that was.

I dare say that my folks would not had been married over 50 years if they kept track of whether either one got their fair share.  I suspect neither one of them ever did.

It is in giving that we receive.  If we are more focused on what we receive, we forget how to give—“for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.” 

The Holy Father assured the brides and grooms at their wedding that Christ’s redemptive sacrifice would enable them to “resist the dangerous temptation of discouragement, infidelity, weakness, abandonment.”  You have learned that your sacrifice has often been reflected in such words as:  “I love you.” “I am sorry.” “Please forgive me.” “I forgive you.” 

The love of Christ has blessed and sanctified your unions as wives and husbands, sustaining your love and renewing it when, human speaking, it became lost, wounded or worn out, as Pope Francis puts it. 

This marriage jubilee is truly an occasion for you and your families, and especially this family of faith to thank God for the blessings you are. 

Thank you for your witness of faithful love.  Congratulations to you and your families. 

God bless you all!!

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