Monday, 31 December 2012

Homily for the Marriage of Benedict Carter & Zhuojun (Miki) Zhang

Readings Gen 1:26-31; 1Cor 12:31-13:8; Matt 7:21, 24-29

When I was preparing this homily, I vividly recalled a similar situation 25 years ago when I was sitting where Ben is sitting now.  Months of preparations and excitement had all built up to these few short hours on this very special and joyful day.  The nerves were jangling, the adrenaline was pumping – then it was over in a flash and we were married.  It was perhaps a month later before the reality of spending the rest of our lives together really dawned on us.  The more perceptive one of us – (I won’t mention who that was) but she woke up one day saying: “What on earth have I done?”  That was followed very quickly by me discovering that men really are from Mars - and women really are from Venus!

Ben and Miki, this day is so important because you have chosen to have your marriage witnessed before God and our Holy Mother the Church.  But this day is just the first day of the rest of your lives together.  Your marriage is just beginning - and so we now take a few moments to consider the true meaning of this Sacrament.

In our first reading from Genesis we see that God created man as male and female.  The complementarity of the sexes is built in to human nature by God from the very beginning.  Man and woman are both created in the image and likeness of God, with equal value and worth, but yet radically different.  True equality does not enforce sameness – rather it embraces difference.  God’s command to go forth and multiply teaches us that one purpose of marriage is the procreation of children. Marriage is the foundation of the family.  So Ben and Miki, in obedience to God’s first command to man, your marriage is called to be open to receiving all the children He sends you. Receiving them with generous hearts - and raising them in their turn to know, love and serve God.

Although man and beast are created on the same day, only man is created in the image and likeness of God.  This tells us that man was destined to enter a family relationship with God Himself – even to the point of partaking of God’s own life and nature.  And as St John reveals to us in His writings: the nature of God is love.  Love is what makes man different from the beast.  Man and woman are made for love.  Love is how they reflect God’s image and likeness. The exclusive and lifelong union of marriage reflects the very nature of Christ’s love for His Church.  And so, Ben and Miki, as you enter into marriage, you are both called to a life of love for each other – a faithful love that will last until death.

St Paul speaks of this love in our second reading.  He tells us that love is patient and kind, it delights in the truth, is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, to endure whatever comes – and that it never comes to an end.  To love somebody, then, is to constantly seek their good.  Notice that St. Paul does not talk about love in terms of feelings.  We might be thinking: typical man!  But love should not be confused with the feeling of love - emotions - they are not the same thing.  Love is far too important, far too vital, to be dependent on something that comes and goes – that has its ups and downs.  Love – to be love – must endure, whatever emotions we have at any given time.

That is not to disregard the importance of emotion and feelings. Learning to communicate at an emotional level will be important for your unity as a couple.  Emotions signpost the mountain tops and the valleys of our journey through life together.  While the highs of the mountain tops may be exhilarating, it is in the lows of the valleys that most growth occurs.  And so it is with love.  It is during the hard times and challenges of life that love is tested. And it is in that testing that love grows and bears most fruit.

Our example in this way of love is Our Lord Himself.  It was in the midst of ridicule, rejection and pain that His infinite love bore most fruit for us.  It was His love for each one of us that caused Him to lay down His life on the Cross. It was His love that gave Him strength to endure to the end.  If you can keep Our Lord – and the example of His love – at the centre of your life together – then you will indeed build your marriage and family on the Rock. 

Miki, these last 18 months have been a wonderful time to get to know you.  We thank God and thank your parents for raising a beautiful, kind, and intelligent woman to be a loving wife for our son.  We welcome you into our family as a new daughter.  We are proud to have you and we look forward to getting to know our new family and friends across the world in Shanghai.

Ben, if you have the privilege of being present at the birth of your first child, a word of fatherly advice – do not ask your wife:  “Does it hurt?”  You won’t like the answer or the tone of it!  But it seems like only yesterday that I held you in the palms of my hands for the first time. Until that point I never knew how much it was possible to love someone so small, so dependent.   And yet now here you stand.  Your mother and I are very proud of you. You have grown up to be a good man who has kept the faith.  We are proud that you have grown up with the strength and independence of character to be head of your own family before God.
As you start out in married life with Miki all our love and prayers go with you both.

The Feast of the Holy Innocents was a very special occasion for me and my family this year.  It was a great privilege to be able to celebrate the marriage of my son, Benedict and his wife, Miki.  A number of you have asked for a copy of the homily.  In order to save paper and make it available quickly, I have posted a transcript of it here. 

Please keep both of them in your prayers for all the challenges which will inevitably lie ahead.

1 comment:

Mater mari said...

What a beautiful homily! The welcome you extended to Miki should be a model for all new parents-in-law. God bless them and their families across the world.