Saturday, February 7, 2015
This Sunday we celebrate World Marriage Sunday, a day the Church celebrates the importance of marriage and family life. This weekend’s bulletin has a great insert on why marriage matters – so pick one up. And to help celebrate this Day in our parish, Fr. John will offer a blessing for married couples before our final blessing and dismissal – so don’t go anywhere. At first glance, today’s readings might not offer much on the topic of marriage. At best, the reference to Simon Peter’s mother-in-law in today’s Gospel would suggest that at least one maybe other Apostles were married. At worst, the healing of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, which in Mark’s Gospel falls between two stories of exorcisms of demons, sounds more like the start of a bad mother-in-law joke. For the record, I have a great mother-in-law; and although I am a bit biased, I think my wife’s mother-in-law pretty awesome, too. Anyhow, as Sacred Scripture always does, today’s readings reveal good news about who we are and who we are called to be. As today’s Psalm reminds us, our God is good and gracious, he rebuilds what is destroyed, he gathers what is lost, he heals the brokenhearted, he binds our wounds, and as he knows each star in the sky by name, he knows us, and he loves us. God created us out of love to know his love now and eternally. But as we too often experience in our own lives, we don’t know his love or at least we just don’t feel it. We struggle or fail in relationships and jobs, we experience stress and anxiety, we have health problems, and experience loss and death of loved ones. We are left empty and feeling more like Job in today’s first reading: in which life is a drudgery, we feel like we have been assigned months of misery, our nights are troubled, filled with restlessness until the dawn, and then our days are not much better – they come to an end without hope, and we ask ourselves: shall I not see happiness again, let alone eternal joy and peace?! However, there is something in our hearts crying out for something more lasting and satisfying – even if we don’t immediately know what it is, let alone how to obtain it. This is true of Job and each one of us. This hope burning in our heats is for God’s everlasting, joy-filled love. The good news for us is that Jesus came to teach us about this love. As we read in today’s Gospel, he set people free – not only from their physical, mental, and spiritual infirmities – but also from the worst affliction of all – the tyranny of slavery to sin and Satan – so that we might not only know this love, but experience it fully and eternally! And here is the beauty of the vocation of marriage that we celebrate today: the goal of marriage is to get your spouse to Heaven. Couples promise to each other on their wedding day: to have and hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do they part. And this means, among other things, that spouses must help each other to know God’s love, especially when one spouse is feeling more like Job. As spouses, we are called to bring what Christ taught us to the relationship and share the good news of God’s love with our spouse and to do so humbly, selflessly, and with great care and compassion. BTW: Priests and religious of our Church have the same vocation, but they are called to serve all persons, just not one person. When we read a great book, we are excited to share that book with someone; the same is true after seeing a great movie; we do the same when we first start dating someone and want to introduce that person to our family and friends, right? So, we can appreciate the enthusiasm, passion and even urgency of Jesus in today’s Gospel to share the good news of God’s love – he knows a great truth and wants to share it with as many people as possible. We also get the same sense of enthusiasm, passion and urgency as we read Saint Paul’s letter today. St. Paul who is not concerned about what others might say or do to him and is willing to endure great hardship in order share the Gospel with others. So, it is no surprise that Simon Peter’s mother-in-law immediately waited on Jesus after being healed. After we experience God’s love, our natural response is to not only feel joy, but to act. Experiencing God’s love, awakens our call to share the good news by what we say and do with enthusiasm, passion and urgency. Having today experienced God’s love in Sacred Scripture, in the Eucharist, and in this community, my prayer is that you not only feel joy, but are motivated to now act – to go and share the Gospel of the Lord!
Posted by Jeffrey Fortkamp at 8:58 AM