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In celebration of married love


By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

Sept. 27, 2017

Bishop LaValley’s honily for the diocesan Marriage Jubilee Sept. 24 at St. Mary’s Cathedral

Two young brothers were having lunch.  Suddenly, a huge squabble broke out with the two youngsters shouting at each other: “That’s no 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 dessert away 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.  Think about it: What’s fair in married life?  Is it fair that moms, more often than not, are the ones who end up cleaning the bathrooms, doing the laundry and the dishes? 

Is it fair that some couples and families seem to get all the breaks, can afford to go on nice vacations and you work hard just to make ends meet? 

You, faith-filled married couples, know how disastrous such an expectation of fairness can be for a marriage.  In one’s quest to have at least as much cake as our brother or sister, we can end up very disillusioned and even bitter when we don’t realize that sharing isn’t precisely a 50/50 proposition in a marriage and family life. 

This is often seen when dealing with a will.  If one family member gets the slightest amount more than another does, it will be a fight to the finish, sometimes for a whole lifetime.  Instead of counting our own blessings, we expend all sorts of energy in counting our neighbors’.

St. Matthew’s community was not much different.  They, too, were faced with concerns of what was fair. 

Unfortunately, they, like us, tended to see things from a personal point of view rather than God’s.  They, and we, measure most things from the perspective of “How will I be affected?”

The scribes and Pharisees had been concerned that Jesus ate and associated with sinners.  Matthew’s community still had the same concern.  Many of the leaders of the community were bringing Gentiles into their midst.  Matthew’s Christian community didn’t think much of this.  The Gentiles were outsiders.  Those within the community had been there from the beginning, so surely they were better and deserved more.  They felt, as did the laborers who spent the entire day in the vineyard of our Gospel story; they deserved more than the latecomers did.  Matthew had to set them straight.

Today we are challenged to examine our notions of justice and mercy.  We are familiar with the parable of the lost sheep that tells us that there will be more rejoicing over the one found sheep than over the 99 who stayed faithful.  We don’t particularly care for that notion.  I mean, surely, we 99 faithful people will be rewarded better than the one of us who strayed!

God is generous.  But we must learn to let God be generous in His own way.  We try too hard to create God in our image rather than the other way around.  That can spell disaster for a marriage.  The mystery of God’s grace is just that, a mystery.  In grade school, we might have thought of grace as something that is quantifiable.  The better we were, the more we got. 

Even today we speak of building up graces.  But grace is much more than some measurable stuff that is given to us.  Grace is about our relationship with God.  Simply being with God should be enough for any of us—but we still think in terms of getting more than someone else gets.

We cannot earn grace.  It is a gift.  It is given for reasons other than putting a lot of hours in the fields.  If we do as God asks, He will treat us fairly, giving us what He has always promised: life with Him in the Kingdom.
But God is also merciful.  All His children are equally precious to Him, and He wants nothing more than to have all of us with Him, even if we don’t want others with us in His company. 

Our challenge is to let God be merciful and generous.  Our challenge is to let God be God.  There’s room for everyone in God’s gentle embrace.  

Someday we will need to learn that we all have to get along and not be so concerned if someone else seems to get more than we do.  Some day we will have to learn to be as generous in accepting others as our God is with us. 

Until then, some kids will begrudge the extra that their parents do for their sisters or brothers who need the extra care and assistance, for whatever reason.

Until then we will moan and groan about what others have and neglect thanking God for what He has given us. 
You, whose marriages we celebrate today, know all about generous hearts.  That’s the only way that married love grows and loving families are formed. We thank you for such blessed witness of this beautiful sacrament.
After having children, Adam and Eve started getting a lot of questions from their kids about why they no longer lived in the Garden of Eden.  Adam had a simple answer for this: “Your mother ate us out of house and home.”  In this case, it wasn’t a cake.

Thank you for celebrating your milestones of wedded love as a family of faith here at your cathedral.  Your witness of faith and married love inspire us all to expand our hearts as you continue to do with the graces you received on your wedding day.

Congratulations and God Bless you!

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