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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Being What You Are

 I have another wedding ceremony tonight. It is my third in four weeks. The norm for me is about three per year. With another next week and one more on  the horizon for the Fall business is booming. The languge around marriage is interesting. St. Paul says it is a sign of Christ and His Church. That bridal imagery is also present in the Book of Revelation. In fact, the second reading last weekend is taken from the chapter where the New Jerusalem descends from heaven like a bride for her groom.

Marriage is under much strain lately. Seems folks are offended by the ideas surrounding marriage in the past. There is talk of property and the negation of woman. (Summed up in the question, "WHo gives this woman to be married to this man?") As I have said before, we are sinners. All of us. If you look at people in the past you will see all manner of sinful behavior. It is certainly going to be found in ancient marriage. However, as sin is in no decline among us my guess is there are new ways of messing things up and we are finidng them....

One debate in church circles is about the sacramentality of marriage. There are some who say "yes" while othes say "no." I am a yes guy and I do not care if people say no. It really does not matter to me. Denying the truth does not negate it. The fact is, a sign is something we see which points to a deeper reality. Marriage does that. A sacrament is something, in and through which God is working out our salvation. Marriage does that (or, better, God does that through marriage). Every married couple is a sacrament of Christ and the church. To say it is not so only means that one is blind to it. We mentioned yesterday that there is a "veil" over the "Jews" whenever they read the Bible (ancient covenant text) because they do not believe in Jesus. They cannot see what is there. Paul's words in 2 Corinthians are no less true about those who do not see sacraments. Sorry, folks, that veil is keeping you from seeing what God has revealed is there.

So the question is not whether or not marriage is a sacrament. The question is, as a married couple, will we choose to embrace our sacramental state? Will we be a good example of the sacrament. Will we cooperate with God, so that in and through our relationship others will see the love and respect and mutual self-gift that more effectively reveals Christ to the world. I think denying marriage does this at all is a bad starting place. Just like denying baptism makes us a member of Christ's body or the eucharist is a share in Christ's life. When one starts from a position of disbelief, it is harder to be open to the presence of God. And God is apparently too polite to force us to comply.

So tonight I will ask the couple "will you commmit to being a holy sacrament?" Will you make every effort to witness in word and deed, to witness in just plain "be-ing"? Will you decide to actually be what you are? Or will you opt for a poorer, less glorious state? Will you call your marriage a merely human event, devoid of God and devoid of eternal siginificance? Will you embrace in-significance?

God has made His choice. He created a physical world, in and through which He is manifest. The world is already sacramental. That is not under debate. What is under debate is whether we will live faithfully as sacraments in a sacramental world. The choice is ours....

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