Sunday, November 13, 2016

T-K-K


Wedding Mass of Benjamin & Sophia

Readings: Genesis 2:18-24; Ps 148:1-4.9-14 R/v.12; Colossians 3:12-17; John 15:9-12
Picture: LTA

Ben and Ika, my dear friends. Have you ever felt incomplete? And do you know what it takes to become complete? As you know, not far from this church, there is an MRT Station named Tan Kah Kee Station. People who live in this area will tell you that this station took a very long time to complete. This was because, half-way through the project, the main contractor went bankrupt. And the development stalled. Whatever the reason, for a very long time the poor Tan Kah Kee Station looked like nothing more than an abandoned construction site. In fact, the project took so long to complete that people began calling it the Tan Ku Ku Station. (In Hokkien, Tan Ku Ku = wait long long.)

Evidently, it takes hard work and quite a bit of luck to complete an MRT station. And, as we all know, even after the station is complete, it still requires ongoing maintenance to remain fully operational. To remain truly complete. But what about human beings? What does it take to become a complete human being? What do we have to do? Believe it or not, my dear friends, this is the question that you, Ben and Ika, are inviting us to ponder today. Especially through the readings that you have chosen for this joyous occasion. For each of the readings that you have picked actually speak to us about the process of completion.

Notice, for example, how the first reading begins. God has already created the first man. But God is somehow still not fully satisfied. The man remains incomplete. It is not good that the man should be alone, God says. So God sets out to create the first woman. And not just the first woman, but the first human relationship. And it’s important to pay attention to how this happens. First the man is put to sleep. His ego is tranquilized. Then he donates a part of himself. And it’s only then that the man and the woman both find completion. In their relationship with each other. This at last is bone from my bones. and flesh from my flesh! A relationship between true equals. A relationship born of self-denial and self-donation. This is how the creative power of God makes true human relationships arise and grow. This is how we become complete.

The second reading too speaks to us about completeness. Not just how to become a complete human being. But also how to become complete as a people. For you are God's chosen race, his saints; he loves you. God chooses us and loves us and wants us to become complete. Complete not just as individuals. Complete not just as couples. But complete as a whole people chosen by God. How? By putting on the right clothes. Not designer fashion. Like Calvin Klein or Giorgio Armani. But Christian virtues. Like compassion and kindness. Patience and gentleness. And to complete all of these, we need to clothe ourselves especially with love. Not just any kind of love. But the love that we receive from Christ. Who laid down his life for us on the Cross. To constantly be reminded of his incredible love. As we are doing in this Mass. To allow the message of Christ to find a home in us. So that we can be moved to love one another. This is how we become complete as a people.

But that’s not all. To be a complete human being is not just to be related to another human being. Nor is it just to be related to the whole People of God. It is also, first and above all, to be related to God himself. Isn’t this what Jesus is talking about in the gospel? The Lord teaches us how to become complete by remaining in a loving relationship with God. As the Father has loved me, he says, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. How to remain in his love? By keeping his commandments. And why remain in his love? To become complete. I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete.

This is what our readings tell us. That we become complete by entering into loving relationships with other people, with the chosen people, and, above all, with the God of all peoples. And this message is, of course, especially appropriate for a wedding ceremony like this. For isn’t this what marriage is all about? Don’t we find the same three relationships here? First, the coming together of a man and a woman–of you, Ben and Ika–in a special married relationship. So that you become, no longer two separate people, but one body. Sharing a common life together. And you do this not just on your own. But also in the presence of all the rest of us. Members of the Church. As well as in the sight of God. Three relationships: between spouses, withing the Church, and with God. This is how marriages become complete.

And yet, we must be careful not to be mistaken. While it is true that after today’s wedding Mass, both of you, Ben and Ika, will be married for the rest of your lives. We must not think that your marriage is complete simply because you have pronounced your vows. As I’m sure, all the married people among us will remind us, the completion of marriage is not just accomplished in a single moment. Here and now. Once and for all. But it is also a continual task. Which we have to keep taking steps to  accomplish moment by moment. Day by week by month by year.

Putting in continual effort. First to remain in touch with the love of Christ. Who fell asleep and poured out his life for us on the Cross. So that we too might find the strength to keep putting our own egos to sleep. In order to give of ourselves in love to others. To our spouse first of all, of course. But also to others around us. Especially those most in need. And to do this is not easy. We need support. Not just of the friends and relatives gathered here. But also of the rest of the Body of Christ. The rest of the People of God. We need to remain connected to the Church in some way, if we are to keep working at becoming complete.

Just as an MRT station requires ongoing maintenance. So too does a marriage require constant effort to bring it to completion. But this is something that I think you, Ben and Ika, already know every well. I think, for example, of all the time and effort that went into bringing you both together as a couple. I think of how, initial attempts by your respective relatives to get you to meet each other didn’t quite work out. Because you, Ika, were still in another relationship. And you, Ben, simply refused to be match-made. It took nothing less than a funeral and a sudden thunder storm to bring you both together. And to eventually gather the rest of us here to share your joy on this happy day.

And yet, this is not something to be ashamed of. For we are all familiar with the popular saying that a wedding may be for a day, but a marriage is for a lifetime. This is true. A marriage is for life. And it will take a whole lifetime of joyful effort to bring it to completion. Joyful effort not just from you, Ben and Ika, but also from the rest of us, as we give you our care and support. And even though it may seem like we have to wait a long time. Even though it may feel like we have to to tan ku ku. Still, we are happy to do it. For even more than MRT stations, marriages and loving relationships are truly worth waiting and working for.

Ben and Ika, my dear friends, as we joyously give thanks to God for bringing us together today, what do we need to do to continually bring this marriage to completion in the days ahead?

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