Wedding Anniversary Mass – June 6, 2021
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

 Today, the Church throughout the world celebrates the Feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus – Corpus Christi Sunday:  a day that invites us to pause and reflect upon Jesus’ gift of the Eucharist – a gift that binds us to him and to one another and that calls us to reflect in our lives the selfless love that prompted him to give himself totally on the cross for our life and salvation.

Today, we also gather in our cathedral and in our homes to celebrate the blessing of Christian marriage as we acknowledge milestone-wedding anniversaries of 25, 50, 60 or more years.  Congratulations!  I hope you feel a sense of pride for all that you’ve done to arrive at this moment in your lives.

I don’t believe that there is any other Mass that we celebrate as a Diocese that generates more interest and excitement than this one – for you and for me.  While this past year has surely been unique, however you are participating in today’s Mass, thank you for your presence and for your example!

More than you might realize, this Mass is a shining example of the power of faith and all that God has and continues to accomplish in your lives through your willingness to embrace Jesus’ example of selfless, sacrificial love in your love for each other.  …  You are only here today because of sacrifice, selflessness, love and faith.  …  If you think such a conclusion on my part is a stretch or you feel that I’m simply tossing about superlatives for the sake of this Mass, I’d beg to differ with you.  Think about this past year.  For all of the pain, inconvenience, suffering and concern it has generated, it has also provided us – and particularly you, the couples whom we honor this day – with more than ample opportunities to love and to generously serve one another in a selfless way.  It really has!

Pope Francis seemed to capture the challenges of this past year when he shared the following in his exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, “Marital joy can be experienced even amid sorrow; it involves accepting that marriage is an inevitable mixture of enjoyment and struggles, tensions and repose, pain and relief, satisfactions and longings, annoyances and pleasures, but always on the path of friendship, which inspires married couples to care for one another.”  … Putting this sage bit of advice in more familiar words – shared by one of the couples celebrating here today – “Love is a choice that you make each and every day, whether it’s a joyous choice or a challenging one.”

In so many respects, the link between what the Church celebrates today on Corpus Christi Sunday and what we acknowledge in your lives as husbands and wives speaks profoundly to the power of authentic, Christ-like love as it has grown in your lives through the gift of the sacrament of marriage.

In the Church’s ritual for marriage, the words of blessing bestowed on a newly married couple acknowledge the fact that the union of man and woman is so holy a mystery that it symbolizes the marriage of Christ and his Church.  …  In other words, your relationship as husband and wife is somehow meant to reflect God’s love for us.  Imagine that!

In the gospel proclaimed today, we find familiar words for this feast of Corpus Christi, shared by Jesus with his disciples on the night before he died for us.  “This bread is my body.   This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  …  Notice, in the gift of the Eucharist, we are given nothing less than the very presence and life of Jesus.  Yet, we also discover in the same gift the essence of who we are as Christians.

Saint John Paul II spoke often of the awesome presence of God in the Eucharist.  He called Eucharist “the school of active love” for our neighbor.  …  So when God’s people assemble in faith as we do today, we are called to recreate the ritual meal of the Last Supper.  But we are also challenged to do something else.  The great Saint Augustine put it best: “Become the mystery you celebrate.”  …  Become the broken Christ whose life was poured forth for those that he loved.  …  Become the loving, compassionate Christ who fed multitudes of hungry people, who forgave often, who healed broken hearts, and who gave of himself completely on the cross for the sake of those he loved.

The invitation given to us by Saint Augustine to become the mystery we celebrate in the Eucharist – to become like Jesus for others – takes on new meaning when we reflect upon it in relationship to Christian marriage, doesn’t it?  …  Where do you live your faith most often and most completely?  Where are you given the opportunity to feed, to nurture, to forgive and to heal like Jesus if not in your relationships one to another, and especially as husband and wife.

Have you ever thought of your marriage in this way?  …  Have you ever stopped to recognize that the things that are so much a part of your daily lives are the very opportunities and places where you are privileged to live your faith and in so doing, to make God present?  …  It may have been difficult to sense the presence of God as you confronted a global pandemic and attempted to keep your family safe – or as you try to raise a family amid all of the pressures of the world in which we live – or as you face the disappointments and setbacks of aging, loss and grief – or even as you try to convince your husband to wear a tie instead of a tee-shirt!  …  But where else would God be found?  …  And where else could you – and I – possibly live our faith and reflect the love of God if not in the ordinary events of life and in the unique relationship that you maintain in your marriage?

In the end, marriage is less about the things you’ve acquired and the bucket list that you’ve fulfilled.  …  It is far more about each of you giving of yourself in a total and complete manner.  The real miracle of Christian marriage is that when this sacrament is lived in an authentic way, you don’t have to look very far for the deep sense of happiness and contentment that you’ve achieved – and all of us seek.

Not too long ago, Pope Francis talked to married couples, reflecting upon the great gift of marriage and how it is essential to the life and mission of the entire Church.  And then he asked the couples a question.  “Are you seriously prepared to accept the responsibility that every marriage is meant to follow the path of love which Christ has with the Church?”

That’s a pretty powerful question, isn’t it?  …  Are you willing to love each other – and the lives that God has entrusted to your care – as generously and completely as Jesus has loved us?  …  Your presence and the years of faithful commitment that your lives reflect say to me that you surely are willing to try!

It is for that desire and prayer within your hearts that we give thanks this day.  Congratulations!  May God continue to walk with you on the journey that you share together.