Saturday, November 05, 2016

Transporter


Wedding Mass of Mark & Sheryan

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

My dear Mark and Sheryan, relatives and friends. Do you know what a transporter is? No, I am not talking about an MRT train or a bus. A taxi or an airplane. Nor am I referring to a courier service like FedEx or DHL. Actually, what I have in mind is not found in the real world at all. At least not yet. It exists only in the realm of science fiction. Those of you who happen to be fans of Star Trek will know what I am talking about.

In the science fiction world of Star Trek, a transporter is a device found on board the Federation starship Enterprise. And, as its name suggests, this amazing machine has one main function. It transports people or objects from one location to another. Should members of the starship’s crew get stranded on an alien planet, for example, the transporter is able to quickly beam them back to the safety of the mothership. Without the vessel having to waste precious time making a potentially dangerous landing.

Imagine having the power to be instantly transported to a place of safety and security. Of nurture and nourishment. Comfort and consolation. Inspiration and motivation. A place from which we can then set out again and again. To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no man has gone before… Isn’t this something like what we are celebrating today? As we witness the exciting beginning of your new life together, Mark and Sheryan? As we gather here to share your joy? And to assure you of our love and support?

A transporter. Strange as it may sound, my dear friends, isn’t this something like what we believe Christian marriage to be? Isn’t this what we find in the readings that you, Mark and Sheryan, have chosen for this joyous occasion? Just as the transporter in Star Trek has the ability to beam space explorers back to their mothership. So too do the readings transport us to a very special spiritual place. Have you noticed where or what this place is?

The first reading paints for us a picture of the creation of the first woman. And not just the first woman. But also the first relationship between human beings. And it’s important to notice how this happens. How human relationships begin. First something has to be put to sleep. The self-seeking ego is anaesthetised. After which, the man is able to give away a part of himself. A rib. Out of which an intimate new bond is formed. This at last is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh!

But there is more. Pondering and praying over this picture of creation, the early Fathers of the Church found themselves transported to another spiritual location. To the scene of Christ on the Cross. The scene of the One who submitted to the sleep of death. And out of whose pierced side flowed blood and water. Symbols of the birth of the Church. The Body of Christ. The People of God. The Communion of Saints. The place where many different people are intimately bound together as one.

Transportation. We find this same amazing power at work too in the second reading. Which speaks about the importance of wearing the right clothing. Not Calvin Klein or Giorgio Armani. Not Giordano or Uniqlo. But compassion and kindness. Humility and gentleness. Patience and, above all, love. But from where do we obtain these priceless pieces of spiritual clothing? And how do we go about putting them on? Don’t these questions lead us back, once again, to the Cross of Christ? To that place where the Lord courageously allows himself to be stripped of his garments? In order to put on the uniform of Love-Beyond-All-Measure? The same love that leads him to be stripped not only of his garments. But even of his very dignity. His dignity both as a human being and as the only-begotten-Son-of-God.

And just in case we may feel uneasy. Just in case we may think that these reflections are far too morbid for a joyous occasion like this. Our Gospel reading helps to reassure us. For here, at the Last Supper, on the night before he dies, Jesus tells his disciples to remain in my love. To remain in the same incredible and steadfast love that the Lord pours out on Calvary. So that, once again, we find ourselves transported to the Cross. To that apparently dark and forbidding place. Except that, seen through the eyes of faith, the Cross of Christ is neither morbid nor forbidding. The Lord invites us to remain at his Cross not to frighten us. But to give us joy. The joy that comes from realising how much we are loved. I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete. This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you.

To be transported to the spiritual Mothership that is the Cross of Christ. A place of safety and security. Of nurture and nourishment. Comfort and consolation. Inspiration and motivation. So that we can then be sent out again and again to explore strange new worlds in the name of love. Isn’t this what Christian marriage is meant to be? Isn’t this how married love is born? How it remains fruitful in our lives and in our world?

And even if this may sound far-fetched to some. Even if there are those who may not understand how light can shine out in darkness. How life and love can be born of suffering and death. This is not new to you, Mark and Sheryan. For have you not experienced something similar in your own history as a couple? Don’t you find it significant, for example, that you first met each other in a clinic? Where you were both presumably seeking medical attention? And precisely at a time in each of your lives when you were recovering from earlier relationships that had recently ended? Isn’t it striking that this love of yours should have been born and nurtured in places as these? Places populated by people in need of healing?

And what is perhaps even more significant is something that you, Sheryan, have written. I hope you don’t mind me sharing it here. But I find it striking that you should have mentioned this not once but twice. We all know that all newlyweds look forward to sharing happy times together. Which is as it should be. And yet you, Sheryan, say that you are looking forward also to something else. Not just to the good times. But also to arguing with your husband into old age. Again, perhaps some may think this strange. And yet, perhaps it isn’t strange. Perhaps it is simply a sign of your realisation that true love is nurtured not just in times of calm, but often also and especially in the midst of the storm. When we may find ourselves transported to the Cross of Christ.

Transportation. Isn’t this what we find in the love-history that you, Mark and Sheryan, share? Isn’t this what we all wish for you both in the days ahead? And not just for you, but also for ourselves. That in the midst of the ups and downs of life, we may all somehow allow ourselves to transported to the safety and security of the Cross of Christ. So that we can be sent out, again and again, to explore strange new worlds in the name of Love.

Mark and Sheryan, family and friends, what must we do to continue being transported to the Mothership of Love today?

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