Today, couples gathered from around Wyoming to celebrate the beauty and gift of marriage. Many dioceses around the country have such an annual celebration in the middle of winter. I have a feeling that is why it has not been celebrated here. So, we decided that today, we would invite couples who have been married 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, or more that 50 years to come to Casper to celebrate marriage.
I believe 113 couples registered for the event. The longest married couple was celebrating their 73rd anniversary of marriage! The 113 couples together represented over 5,000 years of marriage…that is not a typo…5,000 years of marriage!
Below are some of the main points from my homily today.
The People of Israel put their faith in the promises of God. This faith in God gave them courage.
The People of Israel awaited the salvation of the just. The author of the Book of Wisdom is here recalling the hardships the people endured while enslaved in Egypt. He is also reminding them that just as God saved them from bondage, He continues to act in our day, for our God is a faithful God. Thus, we, too, are to place our faith in God, and find our courage in the fidelity and mercy of God.
HEBREWS (11: 1-2, 8-19)
“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”
I was looking back at my own journal the other day, and was recognizing the many moments that I have struggled, and turned to the LORD, questioning and pleading for what grace I felt was most needed. I began to notice even in my rambling thoughts a recognition in those times of the role of faith. Even though I could not see clearly the next steps to be taken, or did not feel enlightened enough for particular decisions, I never-the-less took those steps and made those decisions…in faith.
I then thought of each of you, and so many other married couples who no doubt live your married lives by faith. None of you could have possibly envisioned the life that lay ahead of you on your wedding day. No doubt there have been hardships. Probably all of you have had moments when it was not easy to continue to love. There were possibly major moves from one job to another or even one city or state to another, possibly even times when there was no income to support you as a couple or family. As Abraham was asked by God to offer his son, some of you have lost children, either through miscarriages or death.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us: “Your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom.” Every Christian vocation is a way or path to the Kingdom of Heaven. Every Christian vocation is meant to build up the Kingdom of Heaven. This is certainly the case for marriage.
In marriage spouses are to help each other, their children, indeed all of society find their way to heaven. Pope Francis in a recent address tells us that the pastoral work of the Church does not succeed through our resources, but upon the creativity of love.
Dear husbands and wives, your sacramental life is such a ‘creativity of love’ upon which the Church relies. Our pastoral efforts as Church depends upon your love. Your love is a participation in Divine love. Your love brings new children into the family of God. Without the love of husbands and wives, there will be no more children in God’s family.
Jesus also instructs us today: “Sell your belongings and give alms.” The Christian vocation is not about one’s self. A Christian vocation is always about the Other, and about service and love of others. Jesus warns numerous times in the Gospel not to get too attached to the things of this world. We need to always remain free for greater love.
Every Christian vocation leads to an “inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.” The true, inexhaustible treasure in heaven is God, because God is love. That is why the path to heaven is love. That is how spouses assist one another in getting to heaven, by the path of true love.
“For where your treasure is, there also will your hearts be.” For most couples, their spouse is their greatest treasure. But we must always remember that marital love is to be a participation in a greater love, which is the Infinite, the inexhaustible love of God.
Dear husbands and wives, thank you for your love. Thank you for your fidelity. Thank you for your witness to the world of your believe in the God of Love, and your belief that the true goal of this life is what lies beyond the present world, the Kingdom of Heaven, which the Father wishes to give us.
I hope to have some photos to add to this entry shortly. To all our married couples: keep living the faith, keep loving, and hang in there! Thank each of you for your love and fidelity. God bless you.