Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The nuptial meaning of the Eucharist; the eucharistic meaning of marriage (Sunday homily)

Note: this homily, with some adjustments, was given at a Mass marking a couple's 25 years of marriage, as well as the First Communion Mass.

This week I was reading an article entitled, 
The Cosmic and Eucharistic Meaning of the Openness to Life.” 
That’s a mouthful! But the point it made is fairly straightforward. 

That there is a likeness between God’s plan for creation – 
how he made people and families – and God’s plan for salvation – 
how he came to be with us, and he died on the cross, 
and he gives himself to us in the Holy Mass and the Eucharist.

In the second reading, from the Book of Revelation, 
we heard about a “new heaven and a new earth,” and in that new creation, 
there is a city; but it’s also called “ bride,” 
prepared and “adorned for her husband.”

Think about any weddings you have been to. 
The bride is always beautifully adorned. 
The groom is usually standing up front, and in the back, the doors open, and wow! 

I’m usually standing near the groom, 
and I can usually get a good view of both the groom’s face, as he sees his bride, 
and the bride’s face as well. It’s a wonderful moment.

So this city, that’s also a bride, who is that? In fact, that is us. 
Jesus many times called himself the “Bridegroom” – 
and the bride he came for is us. We are his Church; we are the one he loves.

A man who seeks a bride has to do many things. 
He has to focus all his attention on her. 
He’s not going to win his lady if he doesn’t treat her as the most important thing. 
And he, himself, has to be the best he can be. 
Perhaps I’m old fashioned in this, and maybe things have changed, but – 
before I was a priest, when I was still thinking about marriage, 
if I asked a girl out, I dressed up. I put my best foot forward.

When a groom wins his bride – when she says “yes, I’ll marry you,” 
the groom has to be ready: he has to be able to provide for her; 
they have to have a home together. 
After they are married, they begin a new life. 
And everything that belonged to the groom, he gives and shares with his beloved.

The point is, all this is what Jesus has done for us. 
Has Jesus given us his best? Has he given us his all? How do we know?

You see, this is why we have the Cross. And it’s why we have the Eucharist. 
If ever we wonder, does Jesus really love us? Really? How can I be sure? 
Look at the Cross. He did that for only one reason – to win his people; to win us.

And, as if that were not enough, he gives us a constant reminder. 
He gives us his Body as often as we want in the Holy Eucharist.

There are some parallels here I want to hint at, 
but for delicacy’s sake, not spell out. 

But we know that the marriage of a man and a woman is ratified 
when they say “yes” to each other at the altar; 
yet there is a special moment that comes later. 
And I want you to notice that Jesus came, 
Jesus spoke to us, his beloved, many words; 
but the consummation of the marriage came when? On the cross. 
When he gave absolutely everything, holding nothing back. 
He poured himself out completely.

Husbands and wives can, and do, renew their covenant 
in a thousand different ways. 
And, if you don’t mind me saying so, it is a very foolish husband and wife 
who do not look for ways, day in and day out, to show each other, 
and tell each other, they love each other. 

I have many memories of my parents, but one I always treasure 
is the many times I saw my father come home from work, 
and my mom and dad would kiss and hug. 

Still, there is one special way that a husband and wife renew their covenant. 
It is God’s design; and what’s especially wonderful about this design 
is the wonderful gift that parents are sometimes given: and that is children!

It is a strange thing that something so basic 
that even a child can understand, should be forgotten, today, by so many. 
Namely, that married love, by its very nature, longs to bear fruit. 

Or, to put it in very basic terms, when you have a husband and a wife, 
the very nature of that relationship is that they want, and hope, to be, what? 
A father and a mother. A family. 

Not all are blessed with children, but when they are, 
and they see their own eyes and ears and nose, their body and blood – 
they know this is the best thing they have ever done, 
and nothing they will ever do will be more important, and more special. 
This is what the love God gave them – 
built into their hearts and bodies and souls – aimed for.

Notice, this design shows up in other ways. 
Some couples go and find a child to adopt, just as Jesus came to seek us out. 
When children grow up, the parents are still life-givers in other ways, 
with their grandchildren, their neighbors, everyone they meet. 
Not everyone marries; not everyone has children of their own; 
but every one of us has built into us a design to be a life-giver, 
which, if we choose, will be the most costly and thrilling thing we ever do 
with our lives: to be a man or a woman for others.

Isn’t that what priests and religious brothers and sisters do?

Jesus loves his Church. He gives himself totally to us; 
and we give ourselves entirely to Him. 
That love bears fruit. It is all of us. 

And just as spouses need a special way to renew their love, 
so we have that special way in the Holy Mass, and the Eucharist. 
Jesus gives us his Body and Blood. 

This is how you know I love you, he says. Not only because I tell you, 
but I show you. I give myself completely to you. 
I hold nothing back, Jesus tells us.

1 comment:


Dear Fr Fox:
Thank you for your excellent homily, situating Eucharist and Matrimony in mutual contexts.
God bless you.
Chennai - India