You have discovered, with God’s help and within your families, that you have been created to love. But you have also learned through trial and error that love cannot be taken or possessed. No, only if love is a free gift is it truly worthy of the name. For that reason you have come today before the Lord on His Cross. Only His free act of self-giving, the only completely selfless gift the world has ever known, is perfect Love.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.” Why is this? God is love, His very essence is Love, for He is the only one who is able to love simply by being who He is, without receiving love from someone else. His love is without beginning or end because He Himself is the Eternal source of love. Jesus is God Incarnate, and therefore His love is given on the Cross in the total gift of His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in His saving death. That is why you are here today, in the Lord’s house: only here can you truly possess the One who is the source of the love you wish to share now and always. Only in and through Christ can you learn to give love and thus truly receive the love you so ardently desire from one another. Learn well this authentic love from the Lord and your married love will never fail and will not merely satisfy but bring abundant joy.
And so, in just a few moments, by the grace of your baptism, you will consent to the truth about love. You will promise one another that you will strive every day of your married life to imitate the Lord, who teaches the truth about love from the Cross. Here, before God and His people, you will promise your lives, all that you have and are, to one another. You will accept from God the privilege of cooperating with Him in His “will that life should go on”, because you will promise that your love will be fundamentally open to new life. The marital act by which you bodily become one flesh will be a true source of love because you will fearlessly give yourselves to each other as Christ gives on the Cross: completely, without holding anything of yourselves back in a way unworthy of authentic love. Your openness to God's will means that you will accept children lovingly from Him and raise them in our holy Faith. You will promise an exclusive love, because you will be one flesh and thus will belong only to one another all the days of your lives.
To promise today, and every day, to love, honor and cherish. Is this not a stupendous promise to make? Does this not sound as if it is impossible? The world often scorns the idea that man and woman can remain as one through good times and bad, in sickness and in health, until death. And it is true: man and woman cannot do such an awesome thing on their own. No, they need the constant help of the divine source of Love Himself.
And this help you will have, for beginning today you will enjoy the particular graces of the sacrament of holy matrimony. By virtue of the grace of your baptism you will exchange your vows of marriage so that you will depend no longer only upon yourselves, with your poor human love, with your weaknesses and, yes, sadly and tragically also with your sins. No, your confidence and hope will be placed totally in God. In the total gift of Christ, in His Cross and Resurrection, you will have the inexhaustible means of daily growing in grace and more deeply in love. Your covenant love will find its source in God’s covenant love through your regular celebration of the Sunday Eucharist at Mass together with His people. The Body and Blood of Christ in communion will be the means of grace by which you will ever more deeply give yourselves to one another. And the Lord’s own forgiveness in confession will be your perfect source of forgiving one another should you ever need this grace, for this too is love.
Above and beyond all of this, you have been called in Christ to eternal salvation. See in your sacramental love the means of daily praying for, working toward and serving each other’s salvation in Christ. Remain close to the Lord through this life of prayer and service of Him and His people. And never forget that true hope always finds its source in the sure and certain knowledge that we have been called to life with God forever in heaven and thus can find here no lasting city, as beautiful as is this world and all that God has made.
N. and N., you begin well today your life of married love. Continue well each day this love in Christ through His Church and in the sacramental life she offers to you and to all of God’s people. Never fail to generously share with all those around you the abundant joy of knowing God’s love that, through you, He may continue to call the world to salvation only in and through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.