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The Greatest Symbol of Love

(General Wedding Homily)

Fr. Frank Pavone

 

One of the most basic words in the wedding ceremony, and in any discussion of marriage, is the word "love." A simple word, it seems, but unfortunately a very confusing word. After all, look at the many different ways we use it in English. We say, "I love ice cream; I love my Mother; I love my wife; I love God." Each of these phrases is a different use of the word "love."

How do we reach its deepest meaning?

This is where our religion gives us an answer. The Bible tells us that we came to know the meaning of "love" when God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to give Himself as an offering for our sins. Christ loves us so much that He died on the cross to save us. There is the essence of love: self-giving. We give ourselves away for the other person, even if it means (and especially when it means) sacrifice and suffering for us. The greatest symbol of love is not the heart; it is the crucifix!

This gives us the key to happiness and fulfillment in marriage. Happiness and fulfillment are not things we obtain directly. If we say, "I see fulfillment over there, and I'm going now to get it," we will find that it disappears when we arrive. We do not obtain fulfillment directly, but indirectly. In other words, it's a result of doing something else... and the "something else" is self-giving. Do not look so much at how your spouse will make you happy. Look instead at how you can give yourself away to each other.

There is a big difference between a contract and a covenant. In a contract, people exchange goods and services. Every sale is a kind of contract. In a covenant, however, people do not exchange things. They give themselves. A covenant says, "I am yours and you are mine." Marriage is a covenant. It is rooted in a larger covenant: that between God and His people. When Christ died on the cross, He established an everlasting covenant with us. "I am your Savior, your God; you are My people. I give Myself to you; give yourselves also to Me." Christ renews that covenant at every Mass. He says to us, "This is My Body, given for you; this is My Blood, shed for you." He gives us Himself in Holy Communion, and we give ourselves back to Him in obedience and love. This is what you do in the covenant of marriage! You say to each other, "This is my body, my blood, my life - take it! I am yours!" The best place to renew your marriage vows is at the Mass each Sunday, where you will renew your covenant with each other at the same time as Christ renews His covenant with you. He will teach you the meaning of love. He will give you the power to love!

N. and N., all of us here wish you a long life of happiness... But that is not all we wish you. Love promises more; Christ promises more. Christ has called you, and all of us, to eternal life. We will be together forever in heaven! Love is stronger than death, and beyond death we will be able to love more than ever. If you think you love each other now, just wait... You haven't seen anything yet! Fix your hope on heaven. Lead each other there, where Christ awaits you, and where love will be perfect. Receive the full blessings that our Faith has to offer! Live your Faith intensely! Welcome Christ with joy today... Ask Him now to seal and strengthen your love and to make it grow, now and for all eternity. Amen!

 

Fr. Frank Pavone

Other Wedding Homilies

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