27th Sunday in Ordinary time

Last Sunday a couple of young Catholics approached me about ten minutes before mass. I had not met them before. The couple hoped to get married and they asked me about marriage preparation. I explained our procedure to them. Because they are planning a wedding in August next year I told them that we should start our preparation after Easter. They thanked me politely and in the same moment the man turned to leave the church by the main door. He clearly didn’t intend to stay… But the girl stopped him and together they attended mass, for the very first time since they came to Elgin three years ago. I hope I’m wrong, but probably I will not meet them again this side of Easter.

I have been a priest for twelve years. This is not a very long time; but it’s long enough to meet a huge number of people and to encounter many different and difficult situations. Divorce is a remarkably common tragedy in many people’s lives. When I witness a relationship ending I always ask myself: “What happened since the wedding day, to turn a loving couple into a hating one? What happened to turn this couple who once could not live without each other into a couple who can no longer live with each other?” There is no one, simple answer; there are as many different answers as there are couples who encounter this disaster. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not judging anybody. In my family my mum had to look after me on her own after my father left us.

At the beginning of this homily I mentioned a couple who intend to get married. On the same day, last Sunday, another couple officially celebrated their twenty fifth wedding anniversary – they renewed their marriage vows during mass. Yet another couple silently celebrated fifty one years of marriage on the same day. Many of you have managed to stay married for years. You know the best way not just to survive, but to live your shared life happily. Probably this was just good old-fashioned love.

Some people might say that the current cultural and social climate doesn’t help young couples to live faithfully: the culture of easy and irresponsible sex, pleasure as the highest value, complete personal independence… But we forget so easily: the culture in the Roman Empire, where Christianity was born, was not in favour of Christian marriage. This is nothing new. Of course, the cultural climate around us can help, but the most important components are a wife and a husband. Their mutual love, patience, forgiveness and dedication are the foundations of shared happiness.

Complaining is the easiest way of talking about reality. It is also the most pointless way. Complaining changes nothing in our lives, but poisons our minds killing hope. So, instead of complaining let’s try to do our best as we live our lives, becoming, in a simple and unassuming way, witnesses of true and deep love to our children, our friends and our neighbours. Our job is to let them know, that deep and lasting love is possible.