Marriage Is for Losers
Homily for the Wedding outside of Mass uniting Catherine Marie Mayo to Allan Richard Watson, Jr.
Preached on July 7, 2012 at Saint Peter Catholic Church, Lexington KY
Readings: Tobit 8:4b-8; Psalm 33:12, 18, 20-21, 22; Romans 12:1-2, 9-18; John 17:20-26
Marriage is for losers.
Now that is bad news for these two who like to win all the time. As the baby of her family, Katie is used to getting her way. As the firstborn son, Rich knows how to convince everyone to see things his way. They will soon learn that, for their marriage to succeed, the road will have to go both ways, or else they will be headed nowhere.
But, losing in a marriage is not just about giving up or giving in; it is about giving away one’s self completely to the other so that husband and wife “are no longer two but one” (Mk. 10:8; Mt. 19:6). This is what you, Rich and Katie, will promise each other today before God and His Church: to love and honor each other with no strings attached, with nothing holding you back. “The two shall become one flesh” (Mk. 10:8; Mt. 19:5) and neither sickness nor health should change that. The two shall become one future and neither the best nor the worst should change that. The two shall become one wallet and we know that neither riches nor poverty will ever make Rich allow Katie to waste even her spare change.
In a marriage, the lover does not mind being a loser because he knows that he has won the jackpot. He has nothing more to lose; he already has handed everything over to the other. Yet, he also has so much more to gain, because his future is no longer his alone; it also belongs to someone else.
In the Book of Tobit, Sarah realized this when she heard her husband Tobiah pray on their wedding night: “Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine, not because of lust but for a noble purpose” (Tb. 8:7). She knew then that her husband did not see her as something to use for his own satisfaction; he saw her as someone to love for a lifetime. She knew then that she had not lost anything in giving herself away; she had gained everything that she had ever hoped for.
So it was for us with Christ who on the cross seemed to be the world’s biggest loser. It was in giving Himself away for our sake that all of us finally caught a glimpse of what victory looks like, what true power can do, and how far love can go.
The first time that these two met, Rich recalls that he forgot everything else going on all around him. The noise disappeared; the commotion was gone. In the middle of that crowd, there was just the two of them: Rich and Katie. She had won him over and he was more than willing to lose himself in her gaze.
In Catholic theology, Heaven is described as being lost in the Other’s gaze. The saints, we are told, lose themselves in the sight of God. It is what the theologians call the beatific vision. This is the mystery of Divine Love that the two of you, Rich and Katie, caught a glimpse of that night: it is only in giving yourself away that you are no longer lost but are finally found. It is only in offering your bodies as a living sacrifice (cf. Rom. 12:1) that you receive your souls’ most sought after rest. It is only in losing yourself to the Lord’s embrace that you gain everything that He has to offer.
That is why the best things in life are for losers: sainthood, priesthood, marriage. The losers are the ones who know that true love requires sacrifice, that devotion demands nothing short of everything, that Heaven is not about control but complete surrender.
I do hope, Rich and Katie, that you are both willing to be losers in this marriage. Remember that keeping score will not earn you extra points. It is only when you stop counting the cost that you will realize that what you have is beyond any price.