Love never fails, humans fail to love! – Homily for the nuptials of Ryan and Shelly – 11.12.22
By and large there is a tendency to pick and choose ones reading for a nuptial mass, sadly even on a Sunday, disrupting the liturgy of the Church. It’s as if we want to tell God what we want to hear, rather than listen to what God has to say. The Gospel of today, the third Sunday in Advent has much to say to us as pilgrims in this advent season and much for you, my dear Ryan and Shelly to ponder, as you begin this new journey.
The Gospel of St Matthew 11:2-11 is also found in Luke 7:18-23 with a few minor differences. The thrust is the same; John sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus, to enquire what ought to be for us the perfect advent question, “are you the one to come, or should we wait for another?” (11:3)
Right away this question should strike us as odd and even alarming. Was it not St John the Baptist who in John 1:29-36 affirmed Jesus as “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world?” Is John having doubts about his own cousin? How could John doubt Jesus when Jesus so graciously hailed John as one who was greater than any born of woman?
There are two reflections that we can ponder on based on this question. The first, do I have expectations of others that leave me deflated when not matched. The second, is it wrong to have doubts?
Let us tackle the second question first. Is it ‘wrong’ to have doubts? Clearly John had doubts or as some would call it ‘second thoughts’. One might think that a doubt such as this is a grevious offence against God. John doubted if Jesus was the Messiah, the anointed one.
Our lives are filled with doubt. A decision such as this that we are participating, a marriage of two young people, is fraught with doubts and understandably so. Is the person I am marrying the right one for me? Will they be there for me in good time and in bad?
To have doubts is not sinful or wrong; to have doubts is human; yet to be paralysed by doubt is grievously harmful. There would always be marriages around us that fail, that does not make marriage a failure. There are people who profess their love and do not live by it, that does not make love a failure. It is natural to begin to have doubts when we see failed marriages of others in what ought to be a “happily ever after” for them; but to paralysed by doubt and reject marriage and love would be foolishness.
Yes, we should not “fall” in love blindly. Marriage needs to be well considered. Perhaps some of us would be better off as bachelors or spinsters. Perhaps some are called in God’s service. All are not called to marriage. But should we feel that we are called to married life, then a leap of faith is what we called to. Do not let your marriage or your relationship become a case of paralysis by analysis.
How is doubt overcome? It is overcome through faith. The apostles had doubts. “Lord, we believe, help our unbelief.” Thomas was questioning enough to be labelled doubting Thomas. Yet in moments like this the Lord asks us to trust in him, to put our faith in him, to walk with him. “Doubt no longer he says to you both, Shelly and Ryan, but believe!”