Blessed are Marriages lived as Sacraments - Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) - Marriage Sunday 2019

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Blessed are Marriages lived as Sacraments - Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) - Marriage Sunday 2019

Today we celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony and we honour those who have significant anniversaries in their married life.

We celebrate marriage as God’s good plan for human life. The Book of Genesis reveals that God’s work of creating the wonder of the universe reached its zenith in the creation of human beings. The Book of Genesis expresses this in simple but moving words: “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image.’” These are extraordinary words. When God chose to create human beings, the pinnacle of his creative work, he would endow them with a dignity beyond worth. Human beings, us, each of us, were created in the image of God.

Human beings have been given a dignity far beyond anything else that God created. The words of Genesis suggest that God paused, thought about His next and greatest work, and decided it would possess something of Himself.

What is this image of God in us?

I would propose three elements in particular.

Firstly, we have been given a spiritual dimension to our existence. Human beings are material – we have been created, as the Book of Genesis says, “from the dust of the earth”. In this we are one with the rest of creation. However, God did something extraordinary. He breathed His divine life into us. We have an imperishable, immortal soul. Animals and plants live and die, but we are destined for eternity. Our soul will not perish. We will live forever.

Secondly, the defining quality of God is love. This is something St John says again and again: “God is love.” And we human beings have been given the capacity to love. Animals can’t love. They can be loyal and even affectionate, but only humans can love. This capacity to love marks us out as unique in creation, and in the expression of love we reflect the nature of God Himself.

Thirdly, we human beings have been given free will. We can make personal choices. We are moral beings. This is reflected in the Book of Genesis when the Lord issues an instruction to the first man not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The first human being possessed original innocence, like the innocence of a child. He did not know evil. God asked Adam to be obedient. Sadly Adam and Eve chose to disobey.

However, the Genesis account reveals that God entrusted to human beings the capacity to choose good or evil. In other words we, human beings are not simply the subject of instincts. We are not robots or simply programmed to do what God wants. We have the freedom to choose. This is both our dignity and our great responsibility to use this freedom wisely and well.

The Book of Genesis declares, “So God created man in his own image,” and then adds, “Male and female he created them.” Human life was binary. Human beings have two expressions expressed in the gifts of masculinity and femininity. Each is meant to complement the other. Each is a gift to the other.

The Book of Genesis then records that as God looked over His work in the shaping of human life, He was well satisfied: “It was very good.”

The words that follow in the text are a proclamation of His plan and purpose for the way in which human life is to be lived. As God looks at the man and the woman He says to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.” The Lord looks at a couple and says to them be fruitful. Your union is to produce new life. Let this life be abundant.

This is God’s plan. This is God’s good, good plan. Marriage is for children. Marriage is to produce new life. Marriage is to find its ultimate meaning and purpose in family.

Thus we can see that family is the fruit of marriage.  Family is the joy of marriage. It is its final meaning and purpose.

In the Gospel reading today St Luke gives us an insight into the heart of the Lord. St Luke records that Jesus came down amongst his disciples, and, as the evangelist describes it, “he fixed his eyes on them”. In other words, the Lord stopped and gave his full attention to those who had gathered around him. He looked into their faces, and into their lives. He knew their stories, their struggles, the desires and hopes that kept them going. 

And then he said, “How happy are you who are poor; yours is the Kingdom of Heaven.” How happy are you! You don’t know it because your struggles, your poverty, your littleness, your simplicity, your humility, doesn’t allow you to see what I see. In your struggles there is a beauty that you cannot sense.

Your humble and battling spirit is precious in the eyes of God. For you know how much you rely upon Him. You have brought your prayers, your petitions, your humble pleas to Him because you know you cannot manage by yourself. You battle through life, and these struggles have purified your soul.

You are not great in the world. You are not an achiever. But you have achieved. You have in fact entered into the Kingdom of God. You see, your faith in God, your reliance upon God, your trust in God, has fashioned a beautiful inner spirit. You are actually living within the blessing of the Kingdom of God. You don’t really know this, but I, the Lord, see into your heart and into your life. You are under the blessing of God.

Marriage and family life is both a fragile and a beautiful thing. Lived as a Sacrament, where trust in God and reliance upon God has been a bedrock reality, marriage and family have become the path to blessing.

This is what we celebrate today.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Sunday, February 17, 2019.

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