Prepare to be great

Homily of the month

Remain in my love

It is the love of God calling each of you to give yourself completely, body and soul, in good times and in bad, calling you both to embrace your world. Remain in God's generous love, writes Thomas Johnson in PREPARE THE WORD'S featured homily for the sacrament of Marriage.

PREPARE THE WORD's library includes insightful sample homilies for funerals, sacraments, holy and feast days, and special occasions. We regularly add new homilies to the mix. Feel free to submit a homily you've written or from someone on your parish preaching team that you want to offer for consideration. Send homilies to mail@preparetheword.com.

Sacrament: Marriage
Readings: Song of Songs 2:8-10, 14, 16; 8:6-7; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8a; John 15:9-12

He popped the question, and she responded with an enthusiastic yes. And from that moment they know a profound joy, the realization of a longing that has been growing maybe from the first time they met. It grew from a simple attraction into a romance as they dated, and blossomed into a young but real love, deepening until now they realize that the time was right for their love to express itself in a lifetime commitment.

"Remain in my love." Stay in this embrace, N. and N. This is the love each of you learned in your families, in your mother and father's arms, as children in your homes, but a day-to-day lifetime of remaining in love, of constancy, tolerance, self-sacrifice, selflessness, and care. This is the love that has brought you—and will continue to bring you—life, happiness, and meaning. This is a noble love, a holy love, a way of life that surpasses all others. This is the same love that the Father and the Son share. Remain in that love. Hold it tight.

If only we could remain forever in each other's arms, or in the perfect bliss of the womb! Too soon the child pushes away from the breast, slides off their mother's lap, and tries out new things—good things, like crawling, walking, driving, starting a career, and leaving the nest, now a man or woman in her or his own right.

Too often, though, on the way to independence and adulthood, he or she may confuse love with sexual passion and happiness with the pursuit of selfish pleasure, something won at the expense of others. Too frequently she or he will hear the message, "Me first," but feelings and thoughts such as these are not love. They are not part of the embrace to which you are called.

Jesus told his friends—and us—to love one another as he loved us on the eve of his passion and death. He was held in the love of his Abba, his father, who, like Abraham, was willing to sacrifice his most precious son, Isaac. Now Jesus was about to "lay down his life for his friends," wrapping each of us in love's sometimes painful embrace.

In the years to come you two will, indeed, experience good times and bad, and over the years you will be getting to know each other more intimately than you do now. If you remain in Christ's love, if you hold each other in his love, you will be letting go of anything within you that keeps you from giving yourself away to the other completely.

If you remain in Christ's love, if you hold each other in his love, you will be letting go of anything within you that keeps you from giving yourself away to the other completely.

They say, "Charity begins at home," but true love can never remain there. "Love," Paul writes to the faithful in Corinth—and to us—"does not seek its own interests." The love that the two of you have for one another isn't some private possession, to be hoarded, or kept only between the two of you. It is of course, very intimate and personal, yet all the same, it is a gift that you first received from your families. It is a gift and hope you share with the people you have invited to this celebration.

It isn't just "N. and N.'s" love; it is the love of God—it is God, calling you, through the voice of your beloved, out of yourself, out of your fears, calling each of you to give yourself completely, body and soul, in good times and in bad, calling you both to embrace your world, to reach out and give yourself unstintingly to others, especially to those in need. Remain in God's courageous, generous, and embracing love.

This is the love in which Christ bids us to live, the kind of life he asks us to embrace. It is the love in which your friends and family wrap you today. It is the same love that this church, this community of believers gathered in the Spirit's love for millennia, embraces and blesses in its rituals. It is the mystery of God's love at work among the two of you, which we celebrate today. This is our faith. This is the faith of the church. And we are so very proud and happy to profess it through you, with you, and in you, held as we are in the embrace of Christ Jesus our Lord.