A Wedding Homily
Marchese-Emanuel Wedding (June 18th, 2016)
Text: Mark 12: 28-34
Title: LOVE WINS!!
LOVE…it’s what makes a Suburu a Suburu! LOVE is at the heart of Jesus’ Great Commandment from the 12th chapter of Mark’s Gospel: “You shall love the Lord your God with your total being…heart, soul, mind and strength. And you shall love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. LOVE…is the antithesis of the hideous and unspeakable act of violence which happened in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12th at the Pulse nightclub in Orland Florida…a heinous and inhuman act inspired by hatred and bigotry and a perverted religious ideology. LOVE…it’s what brought Frank Marchese and John Emanuel together and has kept them together for more than 29 years, and it is love which has propelled them to the decision to be married and to come to God’s house today to seek the blessing of God and the blessing of the Church and the blessing of God’s people on their marriage. (pause).
The title of my homily today is LOVE WINS! I wish I could say it is something I thought of, but it is not. LOVE WINS is the title of a new book released earlier this week. It is written by Jim Obergefell and Linda Cenziper. A copy of LOVE WINS is my wedding gift to Frank and John. LOVE WINS is the inspiring and tender story of the love and marriage of Jim Obergefell and John Arthur and John’s death (just thee months after their wedding of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). It the amazing story of Jim’s courageous decision to challenge the State of Ohio’s refusal to recognize the legitimacy of his marriage to John…a decision which resulted in John’s death certificate indicating that his marital status at the time of death was SINGLE and that he had no surviving spouse. Jim’s battle to have that wrong…that injustice reversed led, ultimately to the lawsuit which resulted in one of the most important Supreme Court decisions in American history: OBERGEFELL v. HODGES which, almost a year ago (on June 26th, 2015) by a 5-4 decision, ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the due process and the equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of Amerrica. My friends, Love won a decisive victory on June 26th, 2015!
LOVE WINS…whenever the artificial barriers that have dived and separated God’s people for generations (barriers of race and religion, age, class and sexual orientation) are permanently dismantled. LOVE WINS when justice, mercy and compassion triumph over hatred and bigotry…LOVE WINS when two precious human beings (flawed and imperfect, but precious none the less) like Frank and John are finally able to lawfully and legally stand in the presence of God (the God in whose image they were created…the God they love and faithfully serve) and make sacred promises…promises to be faithful…to love, honor, cherish and obey and care for each other until death separates them…when they are finally able to be married in the eyes of God and of the State of New Jersey…LOVE WINS! And when LOVE WINS…God smiles because God is the essence of love…God is the the very definition of love. And I have it on very good authority that, at this moment, the Creator of the Universe is grinning from ear to ear, and today, LOVE WINS yet another decisive victory!!
My friends, I am here today as a representative of State of New Jersey to witness the marriage of Frank Marchese and John Emmanuel…but I am also here as a representative of God and of the Church of Jesus Christ and as a friend and fellow pilgrim to remind you of some very Good News…Good News not just for John and Frank on their wedding day, but Good News for all of us who are married or who will ever be married…Friends, we don’t have to do the strenuous work of building and maintaining a marriage all by ourselves. That’s because the God who dreamed up the whole idea of marriage in the first place wants to be your partner in this great enterprise and adventure of married life, which you begin today. God wants to travel with you on the long and, at times, difficult journey of married life. God wants to give you the resources…the spiritual resources…you will need to keep the sacred promises you make to each other today. God wants to be the glue, which holds your marriage together. But the truth is that God will not force his way into your lives…God never forces his way into anyone’s’ life. You must make room…space at the center of your busy lives…you must invite God…into your hearts…into your home…into your marriage. And if you will do that, then I promise…God will make all of the difference…all of the difference in the world…God bless you, John and Frank…and God bless your marriage!!