"God’s good, good plan" - Marriage Masses in Launceston and Hobart 2018

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > "God’s good, good plan" - Marriage Masses in Launceston and Hobart 2018

At every Mass we say the Nicean Creed. This is the formal expression of our Catholic faith. The detail of the wording of this creed was hammered out at the Council of Nicea in the year 325. The creed came about because there was controversy in the Church around elements of the nature of the relationship between the divinity and humanity of Christ.

Formal teachings of the Church are the result of issues that have arisen at different times. It has been the case that something is generally believed but then some aspect is challenged and so the Church has to clearly define what it believes.

In recent times we have witnessed something many of us just ten years ago could never have imagined. That our government decided to change the definition of marriage.

This is extraordinary; firstly, in that the marriage is something evident from nature, it is a given, and is not something invented by human beings, and so able to be changed by legislative process. Yet this is what has occurred.

Archbishop Charles Chaput from Philadelphia, commenting on the even stranger event in the United States where a group of judges decided that the meaning of marriage should be, said this: “With Obergefell, marriage and family no longer precede and limit the state as humanity’s basic social units in nature. Instead they can now mean what the state says they mean.” And he adds, “The state implicitly claims authority to define what is and isn’t properly human.” 

This decision to redefine marriage was a watershed moment in our history. It means that the state has assumed a role that it simply does not have. It is not the place of government to decide on the fundamentals of the nature of human life.

Pope Benedict warned that when the state steps in to define such a fundamental reality as marriage then the nature of what it means to be father and mother and child are lost. The bedrock notions of human life are now, he says, under threat. And the way to understand what is means to be a human is being lost. 

As I mentioned, when controversy emerged around fundamental elements of our Christian belief, the Church has responded by clarifying its understanding and teaching on the matter.

Thus, it will be necessary now for the Church to teach very clearly and to explain its belief about the nature of marriage and family. Indeed, it has been doing this for the last few decades, particularly under the inspiring vision of human life expounded by Pope St John Paul II. But now this takes on new urgency.

On this Marriage Sunday, celebrated annually in the Archdiocese, we celebrate those in our community who have lived the Sacrament of Marriage and have reached a significant milestone: sixty years, fifty, forty and ten. We salute them and we thank them for the witness they give to us of God’s plan for marriage and family.

It is an appropriate today to recall our understanding of what marriage is according to God’s good plan for human life. Marriage is the most natural thing in the world for human beings. Very simply, we have been designed for marriage.

We human beings desire companionship. We are social beings, as the Scripture says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” While we enjoy socializing and developing friendships, there is a drive within us for a specific form of relationship with its own special form of love. And that is the covenant of marriage and its relationship grounded in nuptial love.

Man and woman were created with marriage in mind. Men and women are drawn towards each other. Their relationship is grounded in the complementarity of masculinity and femininity. Like two magnetic poles they are drawn together into a powerful bonding, each knowing that they are enriched by the other, each aware that a completion of themselves is achieved in this union. A man needs the contribution of the femininity of his wife, and the woman needs the contribution of the masculinity of her husband.

This is the plan of God for human life. And it is a wise and provident plan of God for the human race. And it is good. It is very good.

Men and women are attracted to each another, and passages from the Song of Songs in the Old Testament speak of this natural human love and attraction. They are God’s gift to humanity. Human love and desire for the other is good and beautiful. As the Song of Songs says: “Come, then, my love, my lovely one, come.” And so the first book of the Bible states, “This is why a man leaves his mother and his father and joins himself to his wife and the two become one.”

The two become one. This surely is the most wondrous aspect of God’s plan for marriage. Marriage is far more than a contract, an arrangement, a legal status. There is a profound union established so that the two no longer see themselves as separate from the other. The two have become one. Such a union is thus meant to be permanent, to be indissoluble.

And the reason for this? Yes, it is for the support of the two parties. It is that they may enjoy a companionship throughout life. It is for the comfort and assurance that each knows the devoted love of the other.

However, it has a particular aspect. It is designed to create a stable and loving environment into which children can be born. It is to ensure not only the continuation of the human race, but that this is the best way in which children can be nurtured. Each child in the marriage will have the advantage of the complementary contribution of its father and mother. Once again the gifts and uniqueness of masculinity and femininity can ensure optimal conditions for the healthy rearing of children.

This is God’s good plan. This is the intention of the all-wise Creator.

This rich human reality of marriage, however, does not rest solely on the human capacity of the parties alone. Those who are married know that married life has many challenges. At times it can be tough. Pressures can come from many sources, from within the couple themselves, from their children, from external pressures like finance.

Marriage is the natural platform for human life, but couples need help. And God provides for this. Couples come to the Church to seek the blessing of God upon their union. They do not just rely solely upon themselves but humbly ask God to be present with them in their future marriage together. Marriage for the Christian is raised to a higher level. Marriage becomes the sacrament of Matrimony. It becomes a sacrament, and human love and commitment comes under grace.

God wants marriages to work - for the sake of the couple and for the sake of the children – so God wants to assist couples in their journey together. He wants to accompany them. He wants to refresh and strengthen their love. He wants to offer comfort and hope in times of difficulty. He wants to bring healing and hope in times of failure or during fraught experiences.

God is a God of love and He never, never abandons us.

Today we celebrate those couples who have faithfully lived God’s good plan for marriage and family for sixty, fifty, forty and ten years. And we celebrate today God’s good plan for marriage and family.

In the face of our society choosing to ignore nature and God’s good plan for human life, we reassert our belief that marriage and family are God’s plan and that we will hold fast to this wise and provident way of living human life.

Archbishop Julian Porteous

Sunday, February 11, 2018.

To listen to the audio recording of Archbishop Julian's homily, click here: