06 November 2011

God's Gift

A Wedding Homily for Emman and Sarita Kare-Telado
St. John the Baptist Parish Church, Tabaco City
15 October 2011

St. Bernard of Clairvaux says “We find a home in those we love, and we provide a home for those who love us”.  

In many ways, Emman and Sarita’s wedding is a coming to a home, a homecoming, to their hometown, and to this very church. This is where they receive the sacraments: where Sarita was baptized, were both of them had first communion, received confirmation, and attended Sunday Masses with their families. Both of them and their classmates from grade school may still remember the many First Fridays when they had to cross the street from CCS to attend Mass here. Who would have thought at that time, that Emman and Sarita would find themselves together today in this church to receive the sacrament of matrimony and found a home, a family of their own?

Their love story is also a coming home to each other. Having been classmates in grade school, they went their separate ways through high school, college and work. Until that fateful class reunion in 2007. We’re not sure if there was any love at first sight for one or both of them. But we’re sure they are glad that they took a second look. After around two years, for Emman, after mustering the courage to say the right words and do the right moves; for Sarita, after getting to know again Emman much closer this time – they became a couple. After another two years, here we are today.

The lyrics of a song sometimes sung at weddings comes to mind: “Love is the Answer”.

Though we came from different roads
Now we walk together
Stay beside me all our days
Strangers never more

Through the cool of summer rains
By the hearthside fire
I’ll be with you when nothing remains
I am home to stay.

GOD’S WILL. Some call it fate. Some call it chance. Or for the romantically-inclined, serendipity. I would like to call it: God’s will. Emman and Sarita, your finding each other again, your falling in love with each other, your coming here together, all of them are God’s will.

When I asked them to tell their story, Sarita said she has found in Emman, a good man, the man she was looking for. Sabi naman ni Emman, Sarita is the perfect woman for him. See, God’s will. Emman and Sarita, you are God’s will to each other.

GOD’S LOVE. There is another way of saying that: God’s love. For the will of God is love.  Love has brought them together. They have been brought up well by their parents. Let us take a pause and congratulate their proud parents.

Friends, we see here a couple who is loving and generous; bright and balanced; understanding and very much concerned about each other. But if on these qualities alone they were to base their life together, I’m afraid these won’t be enough to sustain their marriage.

Providentially, they have between them something more, something greater even than their love for each other: God’s love. It is a love that literally moves mountains, creates worlds, liberates peoples, forgives sins (again and again). It is a love that has shown to be capable of humbling itself. Imagine Jesus as God going down to our level, becoming like one of us, just so we could feel His love. It is a love willing to sacrifice one’s life for the beloved.

Why am I saying this? Because it is God’s love that you, Emman and Sarita, are asked to emulate, to set as the standard by which you measure the love that you have for each other. You are asked not to compare what you have with other couples, not even with what your parents have. God has set His love as the measure to be followed.

Nakakapressure? The good news is you don’t have to look for God’s love elsewhere. You already have it in you. St. Paul in Rom 5,5 says: “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.” By coming here to this church to receive the sacrament of matrimony, you are asking God to pour His love upon you, to be part of your life together. And He is blessing you with His love right now.

Troubles will come your way. Problems will happen. It will not always be smooth sailing, for such is life. But as St. Paul also says in Rom 8,31: “If God is with us, who can be against us?” So when troubles come and problems arise, it is not just “you and me against the world” for you. It is both of you and God against the world. That is the love that sustains.

GOD’S GIFT. I would like to add one more: what you have is God’s gift. You are God’s gift to each other. And God’s love is His gift you.

You may not demand it; you do not deserve it; you cannot buy it. God gives it out in sheer goodness. It is his pledge that through the bittersweet years that lie ahead you will never be alone. Through it, in the words of 1 Cor 13,7, you will be able to “bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things”.

But this kind of gift though priceless, is not costless. It is both a gift and a task. What is your task? Your task is to nurture it, let it grow and share it. In other words, your task as a married couple (and this goes out to all married couples present here, including those who intend to get married in the future) are these: faithfulness and selflessness.

Faithfulness is more than just about having no other woman, or man for that matter. Faithfulness is more than just about the length of years spent. Faithfulness is defined rather by the little things that you do for each other, those everyday acts of kindness and gestures of affection, the openness to forgive even when the heart is not yet ready. Let these things define your every day, and your days will turn into weeks, the weeks to months, the months to years, and the years to a lifetime. This is faithfulness.

Selflessness is your capacity to transcend the concerns of the self. When you get married, Mt 19,6 says you are “no longer two but one flesh”. You will not cease to be individuals with different personalities, but you will be individuals for each other. You will be husband and wife to each other respectively. Soon hopefully you will also be father and mother to your future children. And the basic requirement for parenting – as your parents and all parents here deep down know – is selfless love.

I would like to end by going back to the Gospel story about the wedding in Cana. It was God’s love that brought the couple together and God’s will that led the couple to invite Jesus to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the couple didn’t know it, nor did they ask for it, but Jesus performed for them a miracle: He turned 6 jars of water into wine. Somebody counted that those 6 water jars would be equal to around 900 bottles of wine (pambihirang irinuman). It was God’s gift to them.

It is not by chance that Jesus performed His first recorded miracle in a wedding. The purpose is to proclaim to the world who Jesus is. And so it is also for you, Emman and Sarita. Let your love for each other proclaim to the rest of us the breadth and height and depth of God’s love.

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