TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY B: HOMILY
THEME: “WILL YOU ‘MARRY’ ME?” JESUS IS ASKING US!
These days many couples simply move in together without any serious commitment to each other. Each one is on one’s marks, ready to eject if one does not find what one is seeking from the other. The two are in a selfish relationship, likely to collapse any time.
There are also serious ones, who want to give up their individualism and selfishness and sacrifice themselves for the other; just to be there for the other. After verifying their compatibility for an enduring relationship, one asks the other: “Will you marry me?”. Once the YES is given, the two seal their covenant. Catholics do so in the Church, before a member of the clergy who blesses their indissoluble covenant.
God is one of the serious candidates who want permanent covenants. After God had courted the Israelites all the way from Egypt to the promised land where natives adored idols, Joshua, his witness, confronted the Israelites with a crucial question: Are you going to adore idols or to stick to the true God who liberated you from Egypt? (Joshua 24:15). The Israelites decided to stick to the true God.
Likewise, in John 6:67, after courting his disciples for several weeks, Jesus confronts them with a decisive question: ‘Do you commit yourselves to “marry” me, or you want to go away?’ Jesus is not talking of moving in with anyone who can go away any time when scandals or difficulties arise. He is not looking for those who may receive his body and blood occasionally for selfish ends. He wants a permanent spiritual marriage. A marriage that will remain in good times and in bad. A marriage through which he communicates eternal life eternally. A marriage that is described in Revelation 19:7-9: “For the time has come for the wedding of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself for it. … Happy are those who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”
So, Holy Communion is not a magic pill. It is a commitment to the person of Jesus and his family, the Church. It is a love relationship in which the lovers communicate with each other on a regular basis.
The covenant Jesus wants to enter with his disciples is an eternal one, granting heavenly citizenship to his spouse, the Church. It is an indissoluble marriage in which the spouses are expected to love each other ready to dying for each other. That is why this covenant is sealed with blood. One who is not ready for that indissolubility should not come forward for communion. Jesus is not for trial marriages. Neither is he for divorces. Once you start receiving him, you are no longer two, but one. “No human being must separate, then, what God has joined together.” (Mt 19:6). “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Rm 8:35). That is why there are thousands of martyrs who died for Christ.
This permanent marriage to a loving Savior creates eagerness for reception and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, like spouses who always want to be together, even without saying anything.
Since Holy Communion is a spiritual marriage with Jesus, even qualifying children are invited to establish that covenant with Jesus, so that they have a permanent friend. They too need to receive him regularly, like friends who want to be together always.
Jesus the husband and head of the Church loved the Church up to giving up his life for her. He gave up his body and blood for her! That is commitment! That is why, Paul in Ephesians 5:21-32, gives him as the model for all spouses. Paul admonishes: “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (v. 21). “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her.” (v. 25).
In case you are not allowed to receive Holy Communion, at least, make a spiritual commitment to Jesus and keep that commitment. Keep him as your permanent friend, as you work on the process of marrying him in Holy Communion.
We who are ready to receive him, let us always recognize him and give him a warm welcome. Let us avoid the mistake of living as singles as some spouses do, when they are married. Let us always submit to him, as he submits himself to us by giving us his flesh and blood. “A life of love is neither easy nor comfortable. It demands self-denial, self-giving and control of our passions.” (Fernando Armellini, Celebrating the Word, Year B, p.194). Let us always read his instructions in the Bible and follow them so that we may always be with him here on earth and in heaven.