I hope you noticed the opportunity we have here at St. Remy Parish
starting Friday evening, October 2. That’s this week!
Greg Schutte, who has been here many times over the years
with his wife, Stephanie, will be leading a series of evenings
for couples, whether married or engaged.
Even if you are, as they say, “pre-engaged” –
everyone knows you’re getting married,
but you haven’t actually exchanged the ring – you come too.
Greg calls this series “Building a Eucharistic Marriage,”
which is a great thing to emphasize.
In fact, I don’t know how you can do it any other way.
What does it mean to say, our marriage is “Eucharistic”?
Well, that’s what Greg is going to explore over seven weeks.
But it seems to me that you can’t do it without the Cross –
without putting the Cross right at the center.
And that’s what Saint Paul is talking about in the second reading.
The Cross is at the center – not only of a marriage, but everything,
because God saw the mess we human beings had made –
of our relationship with him and with each other –
and he knew that the only remedy was the Cross.
God planted the Cross at the center of human history,
And then he put himself – God put himself! – on that Cross.
So when we talk about the Holy Eucharist,
Remember that the Mass and our sharing in the Mass,
in the Holy Communion, is all about the Cross.
OK, so then what?
See, the other readings are about the problems the Cross solves:
And what are those? Our sin problem, which means our fighting with,
and hurting each other problem;
our gossip and backbiting and blaming problem;
our resentment and retaliation and vengeance problem…
which is what splits families and creates feuds,
and eventually means violence and war.
The Cross is the remedy – and it is the only remedy.
But the Cross means surrender and turning the other cheek
and forgiving them, Father, because they know not what they do.
See, the Pharisees – like us! – we always saying, “But he did…”
and “She was always…” and “You don’t realize how terrible they were!”
And Jesus’ answer is, I’m God, I see it all; believe me,
I know exactly how bad people can be!
And when Jesus is willing to pay for it all, with his life, on the Cross,
then Jesus gets to forgive, and we don’t get to complain about that.
Well, let me correct that: sure, we can complain if we want;
But we’ll be complaining from hell,
because you and I don’t get forgiven, ourselves,
if we don’t share it as generously with others.
That’s the whole deal:
“forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
So I keyed all this off the program with Greg Schutte –
starting this coming Friday – about making our marriages “Eucharistic.”
But the Eucharist – and marriage – isn’t just the Cross –
it’s Resurrection; and resurrection is about heaven.
It’s not only about the sins and baggage of our past;
it’s even more about God giving us grace
for the daily hard work of conversion,
or change, of conquering bad habits and dying to self
and becoming the saint God knows you and I can be.
See, again, the pharisees – and this can easily be us! –
were only seeing how people were failing to be holy.
Jesus was saying to them, what I’m interested in is conversion;
Not what people were, but what they can be.
This is where, I think, so many people
misunderstand the sacrament of confession.
For so many, it’s all about getting forgiven,
which – don’t get me wrong, is awesome!
But that’s like clearing the table before the meal.
The main thing – the central point – of the sacrament of confession,
and really, our whole Catholic Faith, is to change: to become saints!
So the grace of the sacrament of confession first takes away our sins.
We are free of guilt! That is awesome!
And I don’t mean just the sins you remember; ALL our sins.
One confession takes them all away.
But we need something else: to be new people, going in a new direction.
To overcome vice and habit and self-love;
And while forgiveness is instant, conversion takes time.
And God, in his mercy, even gives us Purgatory as a way to finish up.
But Purgatory, too, is about conversion: making you and me saints.
I don’t know if Greg will touch on any of this in his series,
But I’m guessing he will.
And if you’re preparing for marriage, and certainly if you are married,
you already know all about needing to change, and needing to forgive.
Letting go of the past? You’re thinking, hmm, yeah, that’s a thing.
So sign up: just call or email the parish office.
There’s no charge, but we’re asking the couples
to bring some snacks and stuff to share, it’ll be a nice date-night.
And, date-night? I could do a whole homily on that, but I’m overtime.
Still, a chance to remind yourself why you fell for her, for him?
To remember why you wanted to give each other everything?
It might start as purgatory, but it ends in heaven!