Today, for the second consecutive year, married couples gathered at St. Patrick in Casper to celebrate marriage. It is so humbling to be with these men and women who have remained faithful to each other and their promises of love over the years.
With the Sunday readings speaking about the importance of faith and keeping our eyes on Christ, these husbands and wives have lived that faith, and experienced God’s fidelity in their striving to be faithful to one another.
The first reading from the Book of Kings finds the great Prophet Elijah faithfully living in union with God, while being persecuted for challenging the People of Israel to live with greater integrity their covenant relationship with God. Elijah is rewarded for his fidelity to God when the Lord reveals Himself in the midst of the Prophet’s turbulent flight from those seeking to take his life.
Marriage is about the same union with God. St. Bernard of Clairvaux speaks about the two great evils that seek to destroy this union of the soul with God: a misguided love of the world and an excessive love of self. (1 Peter 2:11) (Sermon 1 on Song of Songs) Marriage in many ways is the great antidote to these pitfalls. Any couple that is going to make marriage work understands the need to put selfish pursuits aside, to live for their spouse and family, and to continually practice charity in all aspects of life.
The permanency of Marriage reflects the fidelity of God. Marital love mirrors the love of God which is eternal; always faithful. The union of the couple mirrors / reflects / participates in the human longing for union with God. The love of a husband and wife mirrors the mystery of Christ’s love for his bride the Church, and the Church is the sacrament of endless union with God.
As man and woman are different – far greater is the difference between God and the human person. As man and woman are joined in holy matrimony – and the two become one flesh – so did God join Himself to humanity through the Incarnation – and Christ takes to Himself his bride, the Church.
In other words, marriage is intimately rooted in God’s love. The complimentarity of man and woman symbolizes the complimentarity of the human and divine. As God’s love generates new life, so does marital love.
To all who participated in today’s celebration, and to all the husbands and wives who are working diligently every day to remain faithful to their promises of love, the Church says not only ‘congratulations,’ but ‘Thank you!’
The two ‘senior couples’ with us today were celebrating 68 years of marriage. They are pictured below.