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In light of Valentine’s Day coming up, I want to challenge you to think of this day in an entirely new way.
Instead of the commercial part of it, let’s take up the challenge to show our spouses the love and grace God asks us to offer every day.
If we do this, it would certainly be a much more memorable Valentine’s Day!
I want to share with you, my dear readers, the best definition and example of marital love I’ve ever heard. My husband and I were blessed enough to hear this on our wedding day by Fr. Regis Farmer who is the priest who married us on July 23, 2011. I hope this moves you and changes your idea on love as much as it has for me!
Take into consideration what is said in this homily and apply it to your every day life with your spouse.
Make EVERY day Valentine’s Day! Show your spouse how much you love them by giving 100% of yourself to them every time.
Fr. Farmer speaks in reference to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 which is one of the readings we chose for our ceremony on our wedding day:
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (NAB)
Today in the reading which Lucas and Elaine chose for their wedding is perhaps one of the most clear and beautiful definitions of love in all of Western Literature. It comes to us from St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians and in his letter, he defines love very specifically.
We talk about love a lot but we have a very fuzzy definition of what love is. People say we love our mother, we love spaghetti, we love our ’57 chevy. We use the same word to express very diverse relationships. Now that doesn’t work. And in Greek there are three words for love: the first eros, the second philia, the third agape meaning I would love you so much I would die for you.
Now that doesn’t mean big dramatic things. It doesn’t mean that I will jump in front of a bus to save your life. What it means is that I will die for you a thousand different ways every day. When you are sick, I will respond. When you are tired, I will respond. When you are depleted, I will respond. That I will forgo my own comfort, I will forgo my own needs for you. So these thousand little deaths is what love truly is.
Now where does true love begin? St. Paul tells us. He gives us this long list of attributes of love and if you know anything about St. Paul, he always starts with the most important and works towards the least. So what does he say? Love is patient. So that’s where love begins.
Now think about your relationship right now. The people that you say you love, are you patient with them? How was the ride over here to church? How were things getting ready this morning?
Patience means that I will not try to recreate you in my image and likeness.
Patience means you are who you are and I love you the way you are.
Patience means I don’t push and I don’t pull, but rather a companion whom I walk with.
And so the challenge for us today is to love in our own life and to ask ourselves who we really love.
Are we patient, people? In traffic, Jesus’ name is used a lot and not necessarily in prayer because we are so impatient. In your own relationships, with your wife, with your husband, with your children, or with your friend, if you are impatient, then you are trying to recreate them in your image and likeness.
Patience is the beginning of love. Patience. If you do not have it, you cannot be in love.
There’s really only one gift you can give Lucas and Elaine. And that is for you, each one of you, to look at your life and decide that your part of the world is going to be recreated in love.
That you’ll no longer be irritable, you’ll no longer be crabby, you’ll no longer be distant on things being done your way, that you will allow others to blossom and to bloom.
That you will companion them rather than try to control them.
You want to give them a gift? Change your lives.
You want to give them a gift? Take love from being some philosophical awestruck to being a lived reality.
In your home.
In your life.
In your car.
And they will have a world in which to raise their children where love is not just talked about, but truly lived.
A world of patience. Generosity. Kindness. Concern. And compassion.
It is up to you. The world won’t change until each of us do.
Love is patient. Are you?
Lucas and Elaine, you have come here today because you love one another. And you have chosen one another as a covenant to life. From this moment forward, you take upon yourselves new responsibility. The responsibility of leading one another back to God. You must pray for and with each other every day. Even when separated by geography.
Pray with and for each other every day.
You must learn to worship together every week. When the vine Jesus says separates from the branches, the branches whither. Stay connected. Listen to God’s Word, celebrate the sacraments, be among his people every day.
You must learn how to forgive one another. We must learn how to do it graciously. To offer it graciously, to receive it graciously.
Never forget that to forgive means to forget.
So let it go. You must learn how to forgive small and large things, but you must learn to forgive most when the other least deserves to be forgiven.
Pray, worship, forgive, live in patience, and you will live in love.
Be patient and through patience you will come to know true love.
I’m so happy to have had Fr. Farmer introduce this beautiful meaning of love and the expectations God had for us as we entered into the covenant of marriage. And every time I read this homily, I gather something completely new out of it as well. There’s always room to learn about how God wants us to love.
This Valentine’s Day, let’s love like this. Because this kind of love can move mountains and will change the world we live in.
Let’s love with patience!
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