Borne by Love
Homily for the Nuptial Mass uniting Michelle Elizabeth Ritchie to William Jeremy Leachman
Preached on June 11, 2011 at Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Lexington KY
Readings: Genesis 2:18-24; Psalm 103:1-2, 8, 13, 17-18; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8a; Mark 10:6-9
The first time that they met, Michelle had a lot of baggage with her. It was her freshman year at the University of Kentucky and she had all her things ready to be brought up to her dorm room. Jeremy was one of the student volunteers from the Newman Center who was helping her move in. Little did both of them know that these many years later Jeremy would still be helping her carry her baggage. But, this time, he will also be carrying Michelle over the threshold of his house, bringing her home as his wife.
I doubt that Saint Paul was thinking of the baggage and moving vans of newlyweds when he wrote that “Love bears all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). Yet, through those words, the Apostle does signify that love carries a lot of weight, that it is not something to be taken lightly. Love demands that all—and not just some—things are borne, believed, hoped for, and endured (cf. 1 Cor. 13:7). Love is not love unless it reaches towards totality, unless it extends, as Elizabeth Barrett-Browning describes in her forty-third sonnet, “to the depth and breadth and height that [a] soul can reach.” True love does not hold back in its giving. It does not hesitate to bear the weight that it has to carry. It does not draw any limit except for the limit that Death makes for it when it parts the dead from the living.
Michelle and Jeremy, this love that bears all things (cf. 1 Cor. 13:7) is what you will promise to one another before God and His Church. Marriage is the Sacrament by which you take each other as husband and wife and take up the other’s uncertain future as your own. From this day forward, whatever the future holds—better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness or health—will no longer be borne alone; all these things will be borne together by you.
Today you come to make those promises before the altar of the One who showed the world what it means for love to bear all things. “Surely He has borne our griefs and our sorrows He carried” (Is. 53:4). “For [our] sake He became poor although He was rich, so that by His poverty [we] might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). It is He who took on our humanity so that He might share with us His divinity. Therefore, in Christ Jesus the human and the divine are no longer two but one (cf. Mk. 10:8), the perfect marriage of Heaven and earth.
It is this same Christ who will join you together in a bond that no one may tear asunder (cf. Mk.10:9) so that you “are no longer two but one flesh” (Mk. 10:8). It is He who commands you to take up your cross and follow Him (cf. Mk. 8:34) and who, in His generosity, has given you a suitable partner (cf. Gen. 2:18) who will carry that cross with you and, sometimes, for you.
Michelle, you first met Jeremy when he helped you move into college. He is still helping you carry your things and little does he know how many other moves there will be in this marriage. But, those will only require changes in your home address. The moves that will matter are the ones that both of you will make beyond injuries, beyond the quick tempers, beyond your own interests (cf. 1 Cor. 13:5). When you leave behind those things that tear you apart, you step into the realm of the Forgiveness, the Truth, the Love, the Christ who bears all things, the same Christ who, in time we pray, will carry both of you over the threshold of the untold joy that He has in store.