Sir. 15:15-20; Ps. 119; 1 Cor. 2:6-10; Mt. 5:17-37
(Audio recorded live, 12 February 2023)
Today, on this Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we also celebrate World Marriage Day. World Marriage Day began in 1983 and grew out of Worldwide Marriage Encounter, an apostolate focused on helping couples make good marriages even better. It is celebrated every second Sunday of February, and Pope Saint John Paul II imparted an Apostolic Blessing on World Marriage Day, highlighting the beauty of marriage and to honor husbands and wives for their faithfulness and sacrifices.
As the Church’s law reminds us: “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized” (CIC 1055). What makes marriage a sacrament? Well, interestingly enough, matrimony is the one sacrament of which the priest is not the proper minister. Rather, the ministers of the sacrament are the spouses. This is because the covenantal bond of husband and wife become a visible sign of the covenantal union of Christ, the bridegroom, and the Church, his bride. By way of their common baptism, husbands and wives are drawn into a deeper union than is possible on paper alone. They are drawn into the mystical reality of the love of God for his people. The love between spouses, then, is a manifestation of God’s own love.
Pope Francis, addressing the Roman Rota, a Vatican-based tribunal that assists with marriage cases, said, “Matrimony is always a gift! Conjugal fidelity rests on divine fidelity; conjugal fruitfulness is based on divine fruitfulness. Man and woman are called to accept this gift and freely correspond to it with the reciprocal gift of self.” He went on to say, “[T]here is a great need in the Church and in the world to rediscover the meaning and value of the conjugal union between a man and a woman on which the family is based.” He also said, “[Marriage is] an extraordinary good, a good of extraordinary value for everyone: for the spouses themselves, for their children, for all families with whom they form relationships, for the entire Church, for all of humanity.”
Marriage truly is a blessing from God. Married couples live longer, laugh more, and are able to get through difficulties because they have each other to lean on. Most importantly, married couples have the grace of God, manifest through their love, to care for one another and their families. Without families, there can be no communities.
Jesus teaches his disciples to safeguard the institution of marriage. He encourages them not to issue bills of divorce. Rather, he focuses on the supreme importance that what God has joined together, no man may separate (Mk. 10:9). And while there may be certain circumstances that are cause separation, young people should truly discern if the Lord is calling them to the vocation of marriage. Marriage is not a job, but it does take work. So, for all the married couples who continue to do the work, we acknowledge you for your love and devotion. It is truly an inspiration for us all.
Now, as we turn to the celebration of the Eucharist, the sign of each of our own personal union with Christ, the bridegroom of the Church, may the communion we share make us overflow with love for one another, especially between married couples and those discerning the vocation of marriage.