Saturday, April 2, 2016


My nephew and his bride are having a destination wedding in the Dominican Republic later this month. Although I’m not able to go, what I am doing, is witnessing their sacramental marriage here in the U.S. this weekend, a couple of weeks before they head down for the big celebration.


It occurs to me this morning that they ought to be thinking of a “destination marriage” too. A marriage is a relationship that is meant to last a lifetime -- its destination lies beyond the grave. As I look at the readings that the couple have chosen for the mass, I see that each one has some advice or insight concerning the journey, for the destination marriage we’re celebrating.
The first reading, from Genesis Ch.2, has God creating a “helper” for Adam out of Adam’s rib. The Hebrew word for “helper” is used of God himself in the Old Testament (Dt. 33.7, Ps. 46:2), and so it can’t imply that the woman is subordinate to the man any more than God is subordinate to us. The word “helper” suggests instead a profound affinity between the man and the woman, a relationship that is supportive and nourishing. So, one lesson about the journey is that getting to the destination takes two people who are co-equal, and who are supportive and nurturing to one another.

The second reading is the famous one from I Cor 13, Paul’s hymn about love.“Love is patient,
love is kind….” What’s interesting about this passage is that in the original Greek it contains 15 verbs that help define what love does and does not do. Love is a verb, it is action, dynamic life-giving force. The Greek word used for love here is agape, love that has no possessiveness about it; it is not a desire for satisfaction but rather it wants to satisfy the other. The supreme instance of agape is, of course, God. Our love for one another must imitate God’s boundless, unconditional love for us. So, a second bit of advice for the journey is that it needs to be impelled by love, by selfless, self-giving actions toward the other. Anything less and the marriage is unlikely to reach its destination.

The third reading is John 20:19-31, that tells the story of doubting Thomas finally seeing the risen Christ. Jesus leaves him and us with a lesson that applies to all Christians: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” As Paul reminds us in Second Corinthians (5:7), “We walk by faith, and not by sight.” The third lesson about the destination marriage, then, is that there will be times that the couple will have to walk through dark valleys together, living by faith and not by physical proofs of God’s presence. They promise in their vows to keep walking together on the destination journey in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer.


But in return, God promises to walk along with them, even in the darkest valleys of life. The couple know that they’re in for a long journey, and that the destination of their marriage is a long, long way off. But the vow to walk the journey together is now part of their destiny as christians, it has radically changed the quality of their Christian journey, because now they won’t be walking it alone, but with someone who will call out of them their true nature as an image of God, as someone who is meant for selfless love. They each have someone to walk with them, especially in the difficult times when you can walk only by faith and not by sight.

So in this sacrament, Christ abundantly blesses this “destination marriage” and promises to walk with the couple until the three of them together come to their final destination in the Kingdom, where Love reigns supreme, and where we all hope one day to live together with the Lord who lives and reigns forever and ever.

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