Wedding Homily for my brother and sister in law

Perhaps the most abused word in the English language is the word love. Today we claim that we love God, you love your spouse, you love your children, but we also claim to love our dog, we love chocolate and how many of us say we love Laura’s dress? In fact I bet Philip loves that you love her dress and being his brother I love that he loves that you love Laura’s dress. With all this talk of love in the world don’t you think it would be helpful, at this moment, when we celebrate the love between Laura and Philip, to stop for just a moment and ask the age-old question “what is love?”

     The true meaning of love, which we celebrate today, is very simply the expression that I need you. Now this need between you is not 50% of Laura and 50% of Philip coming together as the yin and the yang, but rather 100% of Laura being offered to Philip and 100% of Philip being offered to Laura. You do not need each other to complete you, each of you are your own complete person and it is because you are each your own persons that you are able to give yourself totally to the other. It is this total gift of self to one another that makes your marriage a reality. In fact, as you know, the two of you are the ministers of this sacrament. I stand here as the Church’s witness and to offer the Church’s blessing, but the sacrament of marriage is not confected by me, it is conferred by each of you offering yourself totally to each other.

     My friends to be loved means to know that we are worth it in someone’s eyes. Certainly all of us need to look no further than the crucifix, to see that we are worth it to God, after all He sent His only Son into this world to die for us, but today’s sacrament of marriage reminds all of you who are married that you are also worth it in the eyes of your spouse, and your marriage shows the world a reflection of the love that God has for each and everyone of us. Philip and Laura today, you will stand before us and promise to give yourself completely to each other. You will no longer live for yourself but for the other.

     Your marriage is the way in which you will help each other become who God intends each of you to be; your yes to each other is a promise to make the other a saint. Today you stand not only before your friends but also before God and promise to give yourself totally to your spouse. Just as Christ gave Himself for us on the cross, you promise to lay down your life for one another, after all “no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”[1]  Today you promise to give yourself totally, faithfully and fruitfully, until death, to one another, mirroring the love God has for each of us, and you promise to work to bring each other and your children to our heavenly home.

     As you stand before us today and say “I do” you will form a new relationship, the two of you will become one. Your love for one another will unite the two of you into one. The “I” will become the “we”, and the “mine” will become “ours”. By following the example of Christ, in daily laying down your life for one another, the Holy Spirit will increasingly lead each of you through your life long journey on your way to your ultimate goal of eternal life.

     The love we celebrate today is not some romantic idea expressed simply in words or feelings, but rather an expression to each other in your deeds, an expression that says through your way of life that you matter so much to me I will give my life for you. This love you express is not some feeling that may go away later in life. No “to fall into love means to fall into something, and that something is responsibility.”[2] Regardless of where life takes you, you are promising to journey unceasingly with each other on the path to heaven, until death takes you from this earth.  The love you express with complete freedom today seeks to limit your own freedom for the good of the other for “true love by its nature is uncompromising it is the freeing of self from selfishness and egotism.”[3] Through your marriage you will no longer look in on yourself, but outwardly to the other, taking responsibility for the other through faithful married service.

     So then what is this love that we are celebrating today? The great English writer G.K. Chesterton summarized love saying, “Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind.”[4] Today you come and sacramentally bind your love to each other for the rest of your life. You say to your spouse, you matter so much to me that I am willing to lay down my life for you to lead you to your true and ultimate goal of heaven. While the world puts so many different ideals about love before us, your marriage today is a reminder to us that true love, in imitation of the Blessed Trinity, is a laying down of one’s life for the good of the other. So after today’s wedding when you say to each other I love you, you will be saying in the words of the great 4th century Archbishop of Constantinople, St. John Chrysostom “I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us … I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you.”[5]

[1] Jn 15:13

[2] Fulton Sheen. The World’s First Love Mary, Mother of God. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press) 2011. Pg. 26.

[3] Fulton Sheen. The World’s First Love Mary, Mother of God. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press) 2011. Pg. 29.

[4] Chesterton, GK. Orthodoxy. (1905 Reprint in Lexington, KY April 2013) Pg. 63.

[5] St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in Eph. 20,8:PG 62,146-147.

One thought on “Wedding Homily for my brother and sister in law

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