Homily of Bishop Kevin at Jubilee of Marriages 2018

Jubilee of Marriages 2018 
Sacred Heart Church, Roscommon – 10th June 2018

It is lovely to gather to today to give thanks for the the gift of love.

  • It is God’s gift to us. God is love and he shares his Spirit with us
  • It is our gift to one another, which He makes possible. Our love is a reflection of His love for us; it is one of the fruits of the spirit.

Speaking at an Audience in 2014, Pope Francis says: “When a man and woman celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony, God as it were “is mirrored” in them; he impresses in them his own features and the indelible character of his love.

There is, obviously, a particular focus on couples today. I think it is important to explore what we mean when we say that your love for one another is a Christian Sacrament. It means that your love is a visible sign of the love of Christ. It fills you and enriches you as a couple, but it also spills over to touch your children, your friends, your neighbours and sometimes even people that you have never met. I want to thank you for the witness of love that you give in your own community. It may not be dramatic, but it is very important.

Since the day you got married, the world has changed a lot. Just look back at some of the photographs from your wedding. I’m sure there has been an amount of change in your own lives too. You have seen your love grow and mature since the time you celebrated your marriage. It’s a bit like preparing a meal. The same raw material is there at the end as was there in the beginning; but something has happened to bring out the flavour.

Some of that growth is God’s gift

and some of it is what you have done with that gift yourselves, as you listened,

  • adapted,
  • showed affection
  • cared
  • perhaps brought up a family together
  • and almost certainly suffered and struggled together from time to time

I think it is good to recognise our vulnerability. We are called in our love to be faithful. What does that mean? I don’t think it means we never fail or never fall. It means that we pick ourselves up and we pick one another up.

Pope Francis also recognises that it is not always easy to love. It is true that there are so many difficulties in married life, so many, when there is insufficient work or money, when the children have problems. So much to contend with. And many times the husband and wife become a little fractious and argue between themselves. They argue, this is how it is, there is always arguing in marriage, sometimes the plates even fly. Yet we must not become saddened by this, this is the human condition. The secret is that love is stronger than the moment when there is arguing.

He goes on to suggest, in the words of St. Paul, that we should “never let the sun go down on our anger” (Eph. 4:26)

And to make peace it isn’t necessary to call the United Nations to come to the house and make peace. A little gesture is sufficient, a caress, and then let it be! Until tomorrow! And tomorrow begin again.

When I looked at the Scripture reading today, I wondered to myself, where I would find anything in them to relate to the celebration of the Jubilee of Marriage. But there is something in there all right. It is the tension between of natural tendency to protect ourselves and our vocation to give ourselves fully to one another. Part of our human imperfection is that, when things go wrong, one person is sometimes at fault. The other, who may feel aggrieved, is also placed in a position of strength. He or she has the “moral high ground”. If I love someone, it is painful to have to admit, even to myself, that I have done something to hurt him or her. How beautiful it is when the other person gives me space to turn; lets me know that I am loved, even before I have had a chance to say sorry. The first reading from the book of Genesis, right at the very beginning of the bible reminds us of the human tendency to lay the blame, fairly or unfairly on someone else. “It was the woman; she gave it to me”.

Blame and resentment can be very destructive in a relationship. As Pope Francis says: “The opposite of resentment is forgiveness, which is rooted in a positive attitude that seeks to understand other people’s weaknesses and to excuse them. Something is wrong when we see every problem as equally serious; in this way, we risk being unduly harsh with the failings of others. (AL 105)

In the Gospel Jesus explains that the Spirit of God is the source of unity and fruitfulness. He tells us that A household which is internally divided cannot survive. The vocation of Christian marriage is an invitation to become one. That doesn’t mean that we give up our own identity, our own personality, our own likes and dislikes. I think it means that we are constantly seeking ways to be one, even while remaining truly ourselves. That effort, aided by God’s Spirit, brings about a kind of positive energy in any relationship. Love is a journey rather than an event. We give thanks today that you are still on the journey. We don’t worry that you have not yet arrived. That just means that there is still more to discover and to love in the years ahead.

We thank you, Lord
and we praise you
for bringing us
to this happy day.

You have given us to each other;
Now, together, we give ourselves to you.
We ask you Lord:
Make us one in our love;
keep us one in your peace.

Protect our marriage.
Bless our home.
Make us gentle.
Keep us faithful.

And when life is over,
unite us again
where parting is no more
in the kingdom of your love.

There we will praise you
in the happiness and peace
of our eternal home.