5th Sunday of OT year B:
This is an exciting time of year for me and for the parish. This past week I had my first meeting with all the couples who are preparing to get married this year. We have 13 couples from our parish who are preparing for marriage. If you can remember, say a prayer for them from time to time. I have meetings where I meet with the couples together, and I have meetings where I talk with them alone. One of the questions I always ask them when I’m meeting them alone is “why do you want to get married?” I mostly like asking this question because they always start to squirm. Um, I don’t know, we love each other, um… Isn’t that bad? I put them on the spot like that. And really, I’m not looking for any profound explanation of their love for each other, etc. I just want them to ask themselves, why do I want to get married? I hope it is because each of the spouses has a passionate desire to love the other spouse for the rest of his/her life. I hope it’s because they greatly desire to enter into a permanent union, that they want to start a family. I’m hoping that they want to get married, because they really WANT to get married. I’m hoping there is passion and desire at the root of their decision to enter into this marital relationship.
Is faith really so much different? Faith is a relationship. Each one of us has a relationship with God, but also as a people we have a relationship with him. Like any human relationship, there are two sides to the relationship. I hope that the reason we are in this relationship is because we have a passionate desire for communion with God. We certainly know that God has this desire for communion with us.
One of my favorite scripture passages is the famous John 3:16: God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son. God loves the world, he loves us so much that he sends his son Jesus to be our savior. We know that Jesus loves us, look at his self-giving on the cross. We know that Jesus still loves us because he continues to give himself to us in the Holy Eucharist. Today’s gospel passage tells us about the love Jesus has for us. He heals Simon’s mother-in-law, he cured the sick, and drove out demons. And as if that wasn’t enough, he gets up early the next day and says “to the other towns I must go.”
I think that very often we can picture God as being remote and lofty. He’s the creator of the universe. But, I think we do well to remember the passionate love of God. He loved us so much that he sent his son to die on the cross. Jesus came to raise us up. His love is such that it took him to the cross. Faith is a relationship, and it is a relationship based upon love and desire. God loves us, and he wants us to be in communion with him. What about our end?
Is our faith based on a passionate longing for communion with God? Just like our human relationships, our relationship of faith has ups and downs. There are times when we have that passionate love for God, then there are times when our faith isn’t so strong. But, just like our human relationships, the key is fidelity and communication. When I’m preparing couples for marriage I tell them that not every day will be perfect, they will have fights and disagreements, but fidelity and communication are the keys to lasting marriage. Stay faithful to God. Even when he feels distant, even when faith is a struggle, keep going. Communication is essential. Speak to God in prayer, listen to him in the Scriptures, welcome him into your life in this holy Eucharist. Faith is a relationship of love. God loves us very much, and just like the people in the gospel today, if we draw near to that love God can pick us up and heal our wounds.