Grace by Name, Graced in Marriage
Homily for the Wedding outside of Mass uniting Amanda Elizabeth Wurth to Joshua Garland Grace
Preached on May 28, 2011 at Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church, Paducah KY
Readings: Genesis 2:18-24; Psalm 98:1-9; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8a; John 15:9-12
Faded by the sunlight of a thousand days, the prayer card once given by her sister Christina still rests on the dashboard of Amanda’s car. The words on that card are as powerful today as the day she first took time to read them. They are words written some 2000 years ago by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Church in Corinth, words that even the irreligious wedding crasher can recite from memory: “Love is patient, love is kind…Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:4, 8).
These verses are familiar to us who have heard them often enough, but for Amanda they have been her daily prayer. Long has she asked the Lord to make this love a reality in her own life. Today, she receives from God the grace—the Mister Grace—that she has asked for and she shares with him her prayer. Josh surely had heard these verses before, but they were never addressed directly to him. Today they will define the rest of his life: a life promised to his wife, a life that embodies that love that is patient, that love that is kind, that love that never fails (cf. 1 Cor. 13:4, 8).
The poetry of the Apostle’s words move us especially when we see a couple like Josh and Amanda embrace what they mean. But, Saint Paul also gives us a fair warning. He reminds us that love is not without adversity. He hints on this in his litany of love’s definitions: Love bears all things (1 Cor. 13:7) and a love that bears has burdens to carry: some light, others heavy. Love believes all things (1 Cor. 13:7), even as it thrives in a garden that leaves much room for the weeds of doubt to grow. Love hopes all things (1 Cor. 13:7) in a journey that has despair waiting at every turn. Love endures all things (1 Cor. 13:7), whatever those things might be—good times or bad, sickness or health, poverty or wealth, joy or sorrow. Love does not exempt us from pain; it is not a dentist’s dose of Novocain that numbs us from the aches and hurts of fickle fortune. Rather, love is that kiss on the wound, the kiss that will not heal the injury, yet somehow makes it easier to endure with its silent promise that no matter what happens, one never has to deal with it alone, that there is someone to share this pain with.
Josh and Amanda, this is part of the mystery of love that you will discover in your marriage: how when joy is shared, it becomes twice the joy, and when sorrow is shared, it becomes half the sorrow. It is a mystery that Adam and Eve first discovered after they had fallen from grace. Marriage was the one gift from the Garden that the Lord God had spared them when all else was forfeited by original sin (cf. Nuptial Blessing 1). It was also the one blessing in this wilderness of sweat and tears that gave them—the first husband and his first wife—that lingering taste of Eden.
But, the Lord wishes for us not only to have a taste of Eden, but more so to join Him in the banquet of Heaven. He wants His joy to be in us and for that joy to be complete (Jn. 9:11). The key to that joy is love, and it is not just any kind that advertises itself by that name. It is to love as He has loved us (Jn. 9:12): to love as to bear all things—including the cross, to love as to believe all things, to love as to hope all things, to love as to endure all things (cf. 1 Cor. 13:7), as Christ has borne, believed, hoped, and endured all things for our sake.
Through your married love, the Lord offers you, Josh and Amanda, a share in His cross and a key to His joy. As with all His other gifts, you only have to say “I do” to receive the best of Heaven and earth that He has to offer. And when you do, you will find yourselves not only known as Mr. and Mrs. Grace, but also as a couple whose marriage is full of God’s grace; you will be Grace by name and graced in marriage, bound by the Divine Love who is most patient, who is most kind, the Love who never fails.