World Marriage Day: Choose to Be Pico de Gallo
I really love to eat! I love to eat not only to sustain my body; I love to eat for the flavor! I want salt and salsa in my food! I am not alone. If we are able to choose, almost anyone will choose food with flavor. But many eat food that is bland because they simply don’t know there is another option. Some are unaware and others are just afraid to try something new. They only eat what is familiar, what everyone else is eating.
It is a bit hard to understand. Many live all their lives without trying salsa picante or cabrito; without trying food from Greece or China. But sadder than the fact that many will not try food is the fact that many refuse to be flavorful food for the world. To be salt and salsa we need to be different; we need to follow another path. There isn’t much salt or spice in this world; therefore we desperately need people who can add a little pico de gallo to our lives. We need Christians who want to live their faith so fully that others can savor their taste.
We need witnesses to faith in every aspect of our lives. Today we celebrate the World Marriage Day. Today in the world we see many people opting for a life that is common and bland rather than for a life full of flavor. They choose a life that is very superficial, a love that is guided by hormones, which satisfies for the moment and then is lost. This certainly appears to be the case when we consider the distressing statistics of nearly one out of every two marriages ending in divorce. Couples just seem to be unaware that there for the choosing is another way; a way based upon the love of Christ, full of mutual sacrifice, but deep and fulfilling and lasting.
We believe as Catholics that every Sacrament is a sign of the love of Christ; but the Sacrament of Matrimony is the Sacrament that most clearly and concretely reveals Christ’s love in the world—a love without limits that is always open to cooperation with God in his love, which overflows for the creation of new life.
For us in the Church, marriage does not represent just any kind of loving relationship. It is not simply a love shared among friends of the same or opposite gender. This love among friends can be the basis of a beautiful relationship, but it is not the same as the love of marriage. The Scriptures of both the Old and New Testament teach us the true nature of a married love: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and the two become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24) Christ tells us that this union is something sacred. For us, the Baptized, it is a Sacrament.
There is no such thing as a temporary or experimental marriage. We cannot say, “Let’s drive this marriage around the block first and then decide.” It needs to be a marriage in the eyes of God in accord with his teachings or it is not a marriage. Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman which they enter into before God; it is a vow to love without limits or conditions, today and tomorrow and forever.
And who could possibly live a vocation that is so great, so challenging, without the grace of God? That would be like jumping from a plane without a parachute. The grace of God is absolutely necessary! True enough, some married people do not experience success in their marriage even when they are married in the Church and have taken advantage of all the preparation and assistance the Church can offer. But those who jump from plane with parachutes will also sometimes suffer injuries—we can only say that the chance of injury is significantly less than for those who jump without a chute.
I would like to conclude with three invitations:
- To those unmarried young people here today: Of course, I would like you all to be priests and sisters! I would like you all to ask God about this possibility. But, for the majority of you, when the day comes that you encounter the love of your life and you decide that you want to live with that person for the rest of your life, go quickly to the Church. We can assist you a great deal to realize your dreams for a marriage that will last. And don’t wait for a day when you will be able to buy a costly ring and pay for a big reception. The most important things in life, money cannot buy. Celebrate your marriage as the beginning of your life together and buy the stuff later.
- To those who are living together now without the benefit of the Sacrament of Matrimony: Go to your parish! Speak with your priest and he will be able to help, without cost, in the preparation and celebration of your Marriage. Don’t live without the grace of the Sacrament one more day without doing something about it! We want to assist you in this!
- To those who are already married: Congratulations and thank you for your witness! In this age when everything seems temporary you are living reminders of what grace can do. Remember that your marriage is not only for a day. You need to commit yourself each day to the renewal of your covenant. Love is not a sentiment; it is not simply the work of hormones. Love is the decision to give your life for the other. I would urge you, dear married couples, to take advantage of the tremendous help that a retreat for married couples can offer. This can be a wonderful way to restore and deepen the flavor of your love.
In your married love you will certainly encounter the cross of Christ. As St. Paul reminded us no Christian can avoid the cross. But choose the salsa, even when it is a little hot. Don’t accept the bland and tasteless food this life often offers. Give your lives to Christ, not just part of your life, but all of it! Show your faith in the service of your spouse, of your family and of all! Offer what you have as a generous, loving and joyful sacrifice to the praise of God, not holding back as though you will be able to find security in things. Choose to walk the narrow way of Christ and you will become salt and salsa, light and lamps for the world!