Wedding Anniversary Mass – June 14, 2020
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Today as a Church, we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus – Corpus Christi Sunday: a day that invites us to pause and recall 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 as a local Church, we also gather to celebrate the gift and blessing of marital love as we commemorate 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. Countless numbers of you whom I’ve met this past year have proudly said to me, “We look forward to being with you for the wedding anniversary mass in June.” … So much for wishful thinking as we celebrate today’s Mass in a very unique manner for obvious reasons.
I’d like to thank those couples who are joining us today and shared such wonderful photos of yourselves from your wedding day and your milestone anniversary. You can view those great images on diocesan website. … For the record, ladies, while they say love is blind, you’ve weathered the years much better than your husbands! That being said, ladies, I also sincerely hope your husbands aren’t watching this Mass while sitting in their recliners wearing a tee shirt and shorts! They should be sitting right next to you on the sofa and holding your hand. … But, I said a moment ago, so much for wishful thinking! … And men, I’m not picking on you. I weigh 30 pounds more than I did 37 years ago when I was ordained. And look at this gray mop that hasn’t been cut in over three months!
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 fact, 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.
This feast of Corpus Christi reminds us that on the night before he died for us, Jesus entrusted the Eucharist to his disciples – nothing less than his very presence and life, in the form of bread and wine, for our life and salvation. Indeed, Jesus reminds us in today’s gospel, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
In the gift of the Eucharist, however, we also discover something about ourselves. Saint Paul sets the stage for that self-understanding in his letter to the Church at Corinth, proclaimed in today’s second reading. “The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”
Saint John Paul II captured the essence of Saint Paul words when he spoke of our participation in the body of Christ. “The Eucharist,” John Paul said, “is best understood as the school of active love for our neighbor.” … So when we assemble in faith to celebrate the Eucharist, as we do today, yes, we are called to recreate the ritual meal of the Last Supper. But we are also called 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.
In celebrating the Eucharist, then, Jesus challenges us to live as he did – in love and unity with one another. He reminds us over and over again, that the surest means to discovering a life of meaning and fulfillment will be found when we pattern our lives after his – in love and service of our brothers and sisters – in love and service of your husband/wife; your child – in love and service of the neighbor whom you find intolerable – in love and service of the poor.
Somebody once said that “all marriages are happy. It’s the living together afterwards that causes all the trouble.” Perhaps a better way of expressing such sentiments would be to say that in the living together as husband and wife, we find a fertile environment for living out the Gospel in an authentic manner.
Some time ago, Pope Francis talked to married couples, much like I’m privileged to do today. He reflected 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 assembled with him a question. “Are you prepared to seriously 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?
Let me remind you of something. Some of you who submitted photos of yourselves that I referenced a moment ago also offered words of wisdom about married life. One couple, whom I had the privilege to serve as their pastor years ago, captured what so many of you have shared. Our marriage has lasted for all these years because of “tireless devotion, trust, forgiveness and love.” … I think you’ve answered the Pope Francis’ question very well. How beautifully those qualities that have sustained you in your marriages reflect the love of Jesus in our lives.
It is for such selfless love that you’ve shown in your lives together that we give thanks this day. Congratulations! May God continue to walk with you on the journey that you share together.