Wedding Homily: From Millennial Angst to Married Life
Wedding: Peter and Anna Weber
In this- the year of marriage- for so many of my friends, I have noticed a maturity I really appreciate, which I guess I would call gravitas, or a weightiness of demeanor from so many guys. Because I think until recently, many of us went about our lives with a sort of light-heartedness that tended toward flippancy. For quite a long time there was absolutely no urgency or drive toward all those responsibilities that we associate with adulthood. This is the classic millennial attitude and all of us, including my good buddy Peter here, fell into- we are terrified of commitment, afraid of any sort of definitive step that could change everything.
This gravitas that I have seen recently- particularly in Peter over the past 2 ½ years, is the realization that life, especially and joyful, fulfilled life, demands real, definitive commitment. Peter has realized that his happiness is not found in autonomy, in being the master of his own domain, with all the options available to him. Rather, Peter, you realized happiness comes precisely in giving yourself away in love. True freedom is found in that definitive yes to the one you love- which demands a NO to all the others.
I think, in so many ways, Anna was the one who revealed this to Peter. Since he met Anna, Peter has been on a new trajectory- he has adopted that gravitas in all his activity. Anna showed up and he realized he must override all of his angsty millennial hesitation and fears if he was going to be able to win this girl, because Anna knows what she deserves and she isn’t going to tolerate any lukewarm guy. So Peter had to step up.
With all this talk about gravitas and “weightiness,” I don’t mean to say that Anna and Peter are a sad, heavy hearted couple- that would be a ridiculous claim. It would be hard to be around either of them for more than a minute without Peter laughing at an almost inappropriate volume and Anna just looking over at him and smiling.
And even this has changed- Peter’s laughter and Anna’s smile now radiate with a confidence that can only be found in someone who knows they are loved totally by another. This love- so obvious to all of us, is the witness you are called to give to the world. The great- and incredibly difficult- thing about married love is just how concrete it is. That’s one of the things I love about the creation story. It makes so clear just how real marriage is. Husband and wife become one flesh!
One thing is for sure, your marriage will not survive if your love for one another grows superficial- not in today’s world. When you step up to this altar to give your consent to one another, you need to be ready to die to yourself, to give yourself in the most concrete, mundane ways. The little things, your daily life and routine, will decide the course of your marriage. If you put the needs of your spouse before your own needs daily- at least 50 times daily- your marriage will become the source of your joy. Then you will have a baby and you will both have to put your own needs aside because there is suddenly a tiny person in your life who needs you.
This vocation of marriage you have been called to is no ordinary vocation- it is a divine calling. Therefore, the love you are called to is not natural, rather you are called to witness to the sacrificial love that Jesus Christ taught us. I’m glad you chose the reading from the Letter of St. John. Because this reading is beautiful, but for so many people it isn’t real! It is difficult to have faith in God in the post-modern world- but no one wants to lose faith in love. If we stop believing love is real, the world is suddenly a very cold, lifeless place.
However, the reading you chose reminds us that we can only love one another perfectly if we first let God love us. St. John Paul II tells us “We cannot give what we do not first possess.” Peter and Anna- growing in your relationship with God is the key to growing in your relationship with one another. Intimacy with God will bring intimacy with one another- First, because it is God who reveals to us who we really are. You want to know yourself? You want to know your spouse? Grow closer to God who created you both.
Also, because God reminds us that we are imperfect. You are both imperfect, I am sorry to have to bring that up on the day of your wedding, but its true. There are about a million pop songs right now talking about how perfect we all are- and they’re all ridiculous. You are both very authentic people, so I know you realize that. But that is why it is so important to keep God at the center of your marriage. God’s perfect love for both of you gives you the strength to forgive the imperfections in each other.
So, build your marriage on the foundation of God’s love, let this love guide you in everything, that you can learn to truly put each other’s needs before your own. Be relentless in pursuing God’s will for your lives together. If you do this, you will be a witness to everyone you meet that love is real, that love actually means something, and that a happy marriage is still possible- even for us millennials.
You are ready for this, be confident in God’s providence, for he brought the two of you together, be confident that his grace will keep your marriage strong. This day changes the trajectory of your lives, you are truly one flesh. I pray that God’s love be brought to perfection in you, that 65 years from now you both still laugh and smile with the confidence of those who knows they are perfectly loved.
Genesis 2: 18-24
1 John 4:7-12