On this Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we celebrate World Marriage Day. Ironically, the readings are not about marriage, but about the mystery of Christ, a friend of outcasts, who does the unthinkable by touching the untouchable out of compassion and God’s loving care. This coming week, we also celebrate one of the legends from the third century, St. Valentine who also did the unthinkable by daring the Roman Emperor. Valentine was a young priest who was martyred in Rome because the Emperor had issued a decree delaying marriage for young men in order to send then into the military. He argued that the unmarried ones proved to be better soldiers. Valentine defied the emperor’s orders and out of compassion continued to perform marriages of young men and women, but one day he was caught and martyred. What the saint was doing out of compassion was to bring about healing of the human heart that yearns for fulfilment. The Church celebrates marriage precisely in order to bring about that deeper healing that only the Sacrament of Marriage can bring about. Marriage is a communion of two persons, a man and a woman, whose love is configured to and shaped by, the very love and compassion Jesus reveals in the healing he performs in today’s Gospel.
Therefore, the love that forms the communion between husband and wife is the same healing and compassionate love of Jesus who joins every couple together for the healing of their body and spirit. That is why we call marriage a sacrament. Marriage as a sacrament makes the love and compassion of Jesus Christ intimately present. Christian marriage is in fact a participation in God’s economy of healing love that comes from Jesus Christ in the sacrament of marriage. In married love, God’s grace continually brings about that mutual healing and compassion that Jesus proclaims in today’s Gospel. It is not just about healing of sickness, but about the healing of our human yearning for communion that is anticipated through the sacrament of marriage. The Sacrament of Matrimony is therefore a foretaste of God’s eternal love, which is the goa of all human beings. We all yearn for love, and we will only be completely fulfilled in love when we rest in God.
On this World Day of Marriage, the Church offers an opportunity to all married couples to strengthen their bond of communion in a society where marriage is under attack from all sides. Whatever it takes to strengthen your union with each other and with Christ, do it. The old saying of Father Patrick Payton is still valid today as it was in the nineteen fifties. “The family that prays together remains together.” 1) The central message of this Sunday is that Jesus out of compassion can touch, heal and strengthen every marriage with his grace. 2) But like all the people who were touched and healed by Christ in the gospels, we must never be ashamed of our weakness and need to be healed in our married relationships. 3) If ever we find our marriage on the rocks, we must never remain there but go forward seeking healing from Jesus, and he will once again pour out into your hearts the Father mercy and that youso badly desire. I am Msgr. John Mbinda. God bless you.
©2018 John S. Mbinda