â€œTo love another person is to see the face of God.â€
On Sunday, June 2, 2013, Bishop Crosby celebrated the 2013 Wedding Anniversary Mass at Christ the King Cathedral-Basilica. The presence of the couples totalled over 20,400 years of marriage! Below is Bishop Crosby's complete homily:
Reverend Monsignors, Reverend Fathers, my dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
During the past Christmas season, the movie version of Les Miserables was released in theatres. I loved the stage version and thought the movie was magnificent as well. Les Miserables is a story that displays the unconquerable spirit of the human person and seeing this inspires us to greater courage in the face of our own trials and disappointments. It portrays both the beautiful and dark side of the human being, but ultimately reminds the viewer of God’s promise of eternity.
There is one line in the production that stands out for me among the many beautiful lines in the film. It comes at the end of the movie when the main character, Jean Valjean, states that, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” What a beautiful image that portrays. When we share the human experience there will be difficulties and sadness, yet, when we love we find light in our hearts. Love gives us hope and love allows us to see God in others.
Sacramental marriage, which we celebrate here today, is meant to be the visible sign of the invisible love of God. Through the loving and faithful commitment of your marriages, you have shown your family, friends and acquaintances God’s love. There will have been times of struggle no doubt, as well as times of sorrow and pain, yet you have persevered and shown how love can transform, heal and strengthen. Most importantly, your love inspires others to see God’s love in the everyday moments of the human experience.
In today’s Gospel we are told of the crowds who had gathered to hear Jesus and of his desire to nurture them, by providing a meal, before they departed. We all know the story well – five loaves and two fishes and thousands of people to feed; it doesn’t seem possible. Yet, once Jesus blesses the food it feeds all those who need to eat, with plenty to spare. And so it is with your marriages. On the day you married God blessed your union and infused it with Grace. As a result, your love has been able to expand to meet the many situations life has brought your way and it has stretched to include children, grandchildren, in-laws, friends and neighbours. This is the mission of marriage - to love as God loves which promotes spiritual growth both in the spouses and others.
I, with my brother bishops, am always very concerned about the strength of marriage in our communities. The Canadian Bishops in their document titled, ‘Pastoral Message to Young Couples on Marriage and Family in the Catholic Church’ describe marriage as a free gift of God who calls the human being to love. That document contains these beautiful words: “Marriage is more than a contract. Christian marriage is an intimate partnership in which a man and woman endeavour to give and receive a love so great that it is prepared to give itself entirely for the good of the other, in the image of the love of Jesus. It means “creating a community that lives the Gospel values through sharing, mutual assistance, and charity.” Today we have more than 450 couples who live marriage as so much more than a contract. United you represent more than 20,400 years of marriage – what a testimony of God’s love you are giving to the world! Today we rejoice in your love and the fulfillment of your commitment on the day you married.
Let me close with some words from Les Miserables the novel instead of the stage play: “When love has fused and mingled two beings in a sacred and angelic unity, the secret of life has been discovered so far as they are concerned; they are no longer anything more than the two boundaries of the same destiny; they are no longer anything but the two wings of the same spirit. Love, soar.” May God continue to bless each of you in your love.
This Wedding Anniversary Mass is also featured in the media
- CBC Hamilton: Long-married couples share tips on how to make love last
- Brantford Expositor: Anniversary mass a profession of love