Do This Forever
Homily for the Wedding outside of Mass uniting Sharon Marie Mattingly to Timothy David Reilly
Preached on December 1, 2012 at Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Lexington KY
Readings: Sirach 26:1-4, 13-16; Psalm 145:8-9, 10, 15, 17-18; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8a; Matthew 5:13-16
Most men would go down on one knee and ask a woman the traditional question: “Will you marry me?” Sometimes, they will even pretty it up and say, “Would you do me the honor of being my wife?” But, Tim Reilly is not like most men. He simply asked Sharon, “Do you want to do this forever?” Sharon replied, “Do what?”
Today, before God and His Church, you declare publicly, Tim and Sharon, what it is you want to do: “to be true…in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health…to love and honor [one another] all the days of [your] life” (cf. Rite of Marriage 25; 45).
It is more than just picking up after Tim, although there will be a lot of that in your marriage. It is more than just hanging on for dear life at every Mattingly mood swing.
It is about being the first one to build up the other. That is what it means when you promise to honor your spouse. You promise to be the first one there to recognize the other’s triumphs and to be the last one left to help pick up the pieces. You reassure one another that nothing will come between the two of you: neither the good times nor the bad, neither illness nor health, neither poverty nor prosperity. You promise to take on everything that comes your way together. The fates will be fickle, but you promise that your faithfulness to one another will not.
Tim and Sharon, be true to one another and you will be like the spouse whom Sirach (26:4) describes: “be he rich or poor, his heart is content, and a smile is ever on his face.”
The Lord God has never intended marriage to be a burden or to be a source of pain and suffering. In fact, it was one of the first blessings that He bestowed upon humanity in the beginning. It was the only blessing that was “not forfeited by original sin, nor washed away by the flood” (cf. Nuptial Blessing 1). He established it so that a man and a woman might have someone to share everything that this life has to offer. As they share each other’s joys, a couple finds that they receive twice the joy; as they share each other’s sorrows, they endure half the sorrow.
This is why we recognize marriage as a sacrament in our Catholic tradition. We say that there is more to this arrangement than just two people living together under one roof, sharing one name, and using one another as an income tax break. Marriage as a sacrament is a portal of God’s grace, a place where one gets a taste of Heaven here on earth. Unfortunately, too many people make it an avenue in which they can give each other hell. They give love and marriage a bad name.
But, you, Tim and Sharon, have been called at your baptism to be “the salt of the earth” and ‘the light to the world” (cf. Mt. 5:13-14). You have been called to season this world with goodness and not leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. You have been called to brighten this dark world and not add to its gloom. You have been called to be your best and not your worst. Salt that has lost its taste is no longer good for anything (cf. Mt. 5:13). A dimmed light is not worth anything. A Christian in name but not in deed is dead (cf. Jas. 2:17). A marriage that does not have love has nothing (cf. 1 Cor. 13:3).
So, Tim and Sharon, never settle for good enough in life or in your marriage; rather, follow Saint Paul’s advice to strive for the still more excellent way (cf. 1 Cor. 12:31). Remember though that the best, the most, the greatest, is still the Lord our God. He is love (cf. 1 Jn. 4:8) and it is His love that you bear witness to in your marriage. If you “seek first [His] kingdom and His righteousness, then all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt. 6:33).
And so I ask you, Tim and Sharon, “Do you want to do this forever?” Because if you do, you will soon realize that Heaven is not a destination where you hope to end up in; it is a journey that the two of you have already started together.