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How does a marriage thrive? What makes a marriage thrive? It is the quality of the relationship.
When a man and woman marry, ideally they have already been building intimacy through good communication through growing in trust of one another, and through learning to be vulnerable with each other.
And that is never to stop.
The day of the marriage, that intimacy, that relationship needs to continue to develop and grow, because that intimacy created becomes a stepping off point for which the woman and man can continue to grow and mature as persons.
Then as each grows, they bring something new back into the relationship and the relationship grows, which give more incentive for the persons to grow… it is a dynamic process! This marital relationship signifies the reality of what Jesus desires for all.
Jesus desires our growth, our maturity as men and women, into the children of God which we are created to be.
In other words, Jesus desires our salvation.
Do we desire it?
Salvation, we need to understand, is not anything that I can give you, nor can anyone else give. Nobody on this earth can save your soul nor give you salvation. (So don’t fall into that trap) It is already given. We are already saved in Jesus Christ. Everyone.
Clearly though, by the amount of violence, egotism, materialism, divorce, abuse etc, by all the needless suffering we inflict on each other, by all the anger we can harbor within us, by all the fear that runs our lives…
…salvation has not be accepted by all, nor lived by all.
What makes the difference? Jesus says it clearly: relationship.
The gift we have been given is made real and concrete through our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus says he does not desire a merely superficial relationship. One based on eating and drinking, and proximity. One based on merely following rules, regulations and protocols.
Jesus, God, desires more.
Think about our own relationships: the ones that give us strength and joy, whether it is our friends or marriages. The ones that thrive are the relationships in which we actually talk and share.
There is more than the one word answer like “Good” “Fine” “Ok”. We actually express our thoughts feelings, experiences with the others.
There is this consideration for the other, always.
In spirituality, this is called contemplation. This idea that we see our lives totally mingled in Jesus, and Jesus’ in ours. Contemplation is to have that deep, abiding relationship with the Christ, with all of the Trinity!
It is based on honest communication: prayer. It is based on intimacy: scripture.
It is based on seeing Jesus as having value: love.
It is based on humility: giving of myself for him, as he gave himself for me.
It is based on trusting that Jesus wants only the best for us, and is with us always.
That personal relationship brings with it Joy. Joy, that deep profound, beyond emotion, “Attitude” that all can be good. Joy that says, yes, my life, my marriage, might be unstable for the moment, but it will endure.
Joy that says yes, I am scared for my future, I know I am not in control, but I know that God will direct me to where I need to be.
Joy that says I am so sad; but I am loved and I can go on.
Joy cannot be found if we merely go through the exercise of acting as disciples, acting as catholics…
You know how it can go…We go to mass on the weekend, sit in the pews, place a buck in the basket, wander up for communion, then out the doors until next week.
Saying a quick prayer during the week if we need a good grade, or winning lottery numbers…
Joy, salvation, comes through taking that risk of being in relationship with Christ, and allowing ourselves to be changed. Surrendering the desire, the need to control and do what we think we want to do.
Joy comes with having our eyes opened to the reality of Jesus’ presence with us always; of seeing the world, others, ourselves differently.
Joy is to know that even when we make mistakes, we sin, God has no interest in punishment, but only, ONLY in mercy and forgiveness, in picking us up and getting us on our feet again.
It is looking into the eyes of God, and saying “I do.” Not once, but every day.
(jer 38.4-6, 8-10; Heb 12.1-4; Lk 12.49-53)
Jesus came so that we may be one. One as God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one; one with God, one with one another. Jesus came for Unity.
So why this preaching about causing divisions?
Well, we know Jesus knows the human heart and ego very well. To be one, we will have to change. Lets face it, very few of us like to change. We want others to change, but ourselves…eh, not so much. And sometimes, people do not want us to change.
Why be one? What comes from being One with God and others? What good comes from Unity. First, understand that Unity comes from seeing the others in this world, and wanting the good for others in this world. Unity is love.
When we are united, good things happen. There is growth, transformation, and innovation. When we are united one there is less suffering. People do not have to endure needless suffering like poverty, there will be no starving children, none being slaughtered, no more violence against women…no more euthanizing our old people, our sick people, our unwanted people. People would not need be so isolated, so lonely. People would be willing to help one another, support one another, want to understand each other.
This sounds wonderful right?
And through, with, and in Christ, this can happen, we can be one.
Oh, how we can wish that the world was ablaze in this fire of Love! This is what Jesus desires. This is the will of God!
Why do we fight then?
Because again, we are scared. We are scared to change. We think we will lose ourselves. We think we will not have what we have. We think too small, and not as God. We place too much importance on the wrong ideas, the wrong things. Or we are ignorant that we even need to change.
We worry that people will think we are weak. We are scared that people will ridicule us. We worry that we will not be who we think we are supposed to be.
The end result–more suffering, more violence, more poverty, more children dying in attacks, hunger, homes. We kill people in wombs, in nursing homes, and prisons. We send off our kids to die in some land far away to prove a political point.
We ignore other’s feelings, and only think of ourselves.
In our culture in which we think our Individuality is the most important aspect, we forget the Truth.
See, the Truth is that God is one, Father Son and Holy Spirit. A unity of diverse persons, yet still one. One because of that mutual self-giving for the other, United because of Love. There is no loss of individuality, rather there is fulfillment of persons.
This is the mystery of the Trinity.
The same is with us. In Unity, we find our true selves. IN unity, diversity exists in a powerful, beautiful way that brings life.
In giving of ourselves for others, there is Life;
the mystery of the Resurrection.
And we create this in the mystery of the Eucharist.
When we come up to the altar, extend our hands and receive the mystery of Jesus, the Son of God, made real present in bread and wine.
And consuming it, we can be transformed to be as Jesus.
We don’t physically change our appearance, we are transformed by grace and our use of grace, to be who we are created to be. Those persons, those children of God, united by the Spirit.
Eucharist is the Trinity’s desire for our unity, made very real.
And hopefully the flame of Love burns a bit brighter in our hearts, and we go forth, to LOVE. To do what is right, just, merciful.
To go and listen to the hurts of others.
To go and ask for forgiveness for hurt we have caused.
To go and have mercy.
To go and share.
To go and…