Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Wedding Homily: The Perfect Gift--153 Large Fish

Yesterday, I returned to my previous parish to offer a Nuptial Mass for a couple that I knew when they first began dating.  They were part of our youth group that attended World Youth Day in 2002 in Toronto.  While waiting in a three hour line for pizza, they struck up a conversation.  Fourteen years later, they've begun their married life together.  Here's the homily I preached.

The Gospel we just heard proclaimed is not typical for a wedding Mass.  That's because we find ourselves in the midst of what is called the Octave of Easter.  The joy of Christ's resurrection is so abundant, that the Church cannot contain it all in a twenty-four hour period. So, the Church celebrates Easter Day for eight days.  The Gospel we just heard is for Friday of the Octave of Easter.  In a real sense, your marriage today is a fruit of the Resurrection.  

A common Gospel to hear at a Nuptial Mass is depicted in that stained glass window right over there.  Jesus was invited to a wedding at Cana, and for a gift, he changed water into wine.  Not bad.  But, that's not the gift he's chosen to give you.  For you, Jesus has chosen to give 153 large fish.  Yup, that's your wedding gift from the Lord.  For the rest of you lives, John Paul and Liz, remember that Christ has given you 153 large fish.

Why would he give you this gift?  (I'm sure that you hope nobody else gives you the same thing.)  Remember, the apostles had been out fishing all night, but caught nothing.  Then, they encounter the Risen Lord and obey him and their nets are filled to overflowing.  

In a few moments, you are going to utter words that seem impossible to the world.  You are going to promise to love and honor one another--for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, until death.  These words are often discounted as mere wishful thinking or pure sentimentality.  But the Church believes them.  You believe them.  

So often, I think people are surprised when in their married life they experience worse, sicker, and poorer.  They think that a marriage is only good insofar as it is better, healthier, and richer!  But, as I'm sure anyone here in this congregation who is married can attest, you will experience worse, sicker, and poorer.  There would really be no need of vows if it were all going to be better, healthier, and richer!

These words are indeed demanding.  At times, it will seem like you do not have the natural strength to fulfill them.  That's okay.  In those moments, remember: 153 large fish.  Jesus, in the Sacrament of Marriage, gives to you all that you need to fulfill these promises.  When you experience poorer, sicker, and worse, remember that you have 153 large fish.  You can love one another with supernatural love.

I recently read a beautiful passage from St. Paul where he speaks about reconciliation.  He says that when he is the one who is offended, he is the one who seeks reconciliation.  That is very beautiful, but seems humanly impossible.  Similarly, in your life, when one of you feels to be the offended party, you be the one to go and reconcile.  And if, at that moment, you feel incapable of such profound charity, no worries.  You have 153 large fish.

In the Gospel today, when the disciples pulled in that catch of fish, John exclaims, "It is the Lord!"  JP and Liz, you met while at World Youth Day in Toronto. And you are being married on the same weekend that John Paul II is being canonized.  How beautiful is that?  It makes us think of your marriage, "It is the Lord!"  For fourteen years or so, we've watched you come to this church each Sunday and worship God and receive the Sacraments.  This makes us exclaim, "It is the Lord!"  You have lived the faith that your parents handed on to you.  "It is the Lord."

And now, you are going to promise to love and honor each other--in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, for better and for worse--until death.  Relying upon what God gives to you in the Sacrament that you are about to receive--relying upon the best wedding present ever--153 large fish--may all who encounter you and who witness your love for one another be able to exclaim, "It is the Lord."

1 comment:

  1. Large fish as a present? Things sure have changed nowadays. It is all about the engagement ring today!