Monday, June 10, 2013

Wedding Mass of Eujin & Mizuho
Minutes of a Marriage

Readings: Ecclesiasticus 26:1-4, 13-16; Psalm 127; 1 John 4:7-12; Mark 10:6-9
Picture: cc Arvid Bux

Eujin and Mizuho, dear friends. Have you ever read the minutes of a meeting? You’re familiar with how, especially at official meetings, there’s usually someone who records the proceedings. Someone who takes minutes. And you know what most minutes of meetings look like, right? Typically, each page is divided into two columns. The column on the left contains the points that were discussed. The decisions that were made. And the column on the right is usually labelled action. This is where you find the names of all the people who have to carry out whatever has been discussed. To put it into action.

I know it may sound a little strange, but imagine for a moment that this wedding is a meeting, at which minutes are being taken. What do you think these minutes would look like? What will we find in the respective columns on left and right?

It’s probably not too difficult to agree on what belongs to the column on the left. Today, we are gathered here to witness Eujin and Mizuho pledging their love for each other. Committing their lives one to the other. And we offer them our best wishes. We hope and pray that they may have a happy and fulfilling marriage for the rest of their years. That they may continue to love and care for each other. And for the children with whom they may be blessed. All this is beyond dispute. But what about the column on the right? The action column? Whose name or names should we record there?

At first glance, our scripture readings for today give us a rather disturbing–if a little amusing–answer to this question. These readings, by the way, were not chosen by me. They were chosen by you, Eujin and Mizuho. And they are very appropriate. But we need to pay close attention to what they are really saying to us. For the first reading seems, at first, to focus all our attention on one party to this marriage. On the wife. On you, Mizuho. The readings sing the praises of a certain kind of wife. The kind of wife that one finds in a well-kept house. What are the impressive characteristics of this kind of wife? Well, she’s perfect and graceful. Beautiful yet modest. And, perhaps most important, she is silent.

Dear friends, if we were to leave our reflections here, then it would seem that there is really only one name to record in the action column of our minutes today. Yours, Mizuho. But that’s just plain wrong. You see, the first reading is not really meant to be a list of actions for a spouse to perform. Whether it be the husband, or the wife. The person with the amazing qualities described in the reading is, before all else, a gift from God. And this gift is reserved for certain kinds of people. Such a wife is the reward given by God to a certain type of husband. The type of husband described in the responsorial psalm. The type of husband who fears the Lord. The kind of person who puts God first in everything that he thinks and says and does. Who always tries to consider what it is that God wants of him, in any given situation. Blessed are those who fear the Lord… Your wife will be a fruitful vine in the heart of your house… And what is said of the husband can just as easily be said of the wife. For God does not favour one gender over the other.

At this point in our reflection, it becomes clear that at least two names must be recorded in that action column of our minutes. Mizuho’s and Eujin’s. But that’s not all. That would still be incomplete. For the rest of our readings go on to remind us that the couple to be wed are not the only ones involved in a marriage. In the gospel, Jesus states quite emphatically that what God has united, man must not divide. And this is our profound belief. That even though it is you, Eujin and Mizuho, who have freely chosen to be married to each other. Even though various circumstances and people may have conspired to bring you together. We believe that behind all this, God has been, and continues to be, at work. Not only joining you together civilly, legally, as husband and wife. But, more importantly, binding you, fusing you, into one body through the love that exists between the two of you.

What is more, we also believe that this love between you did not originate from you. As much as you have to continue to expend effort at nurturing your relationship–at bearing with the spouse who may forget to take out the trash, or who may leave the toilet seat up (or down), or who may snore at night–we believe that the love you have for one another originates ultimately from God. As the second reading reminds us, this is the love that we mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away. We grow in love for one another only to the extent that we continue to receive and to accept the love that God ceaselessly pours into us in Jesus our Lord.

So, three names. Eujin’s, Mizuho’s, and God’s. Is that all we need to record in our minutes today? Not quite. Many more names are required. And those of us here who are already married know this for a fact. In addition to the efforts of the married couple, and to the blessings of God, a happy marriage relies also on the support of family and friends. People willing to lend a listening ear, when burdens may become heavy. When hearts may get broken. When tears may well up and fall. People willing to offer a helping hand, when children may need care. When finances may become tight. When work may get too stressful. People willing to get involved in some way. To be present to the couple. In mind and in body. In work and in prayer.

My dear friends, Eujin and Mizuho, it takes many names to make a marriage work. How ready are we to put these minutes of ours into action today?

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