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Bishop's Homily for the Thirty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

We choose to wed ourselves to Christ, to keep us linked to him forever.

By Bishop Larry Silva
November 06, 2022

[Diocesan Congress of Filipino Catholic Clubs, Wailua, Kauai]

Do you know what the word for “wives” is in Spanish? “Esposas.” Do you know what else “esposas” means in Spanish? “Handcuffs!”

Of course, we joke that when a couple gets married, each one puts on a ball and chain because they are linked to each other for life, and one must give up some personal freedom to make the relationship work. But in the end, no one forces them to “tie the knot.” The couple freely and joyfully makes this commitment to be bonded together as one body until death do them part. There are rewards in the end, because they learn the true meaning of love as faithful, fruitful and permanent. If the couple truly chooses to stay bonded to one another throughout life, their separation in death will be extremely difficult, because the depth of grief is measured by the depth of love.

Jesus here talks about marriage in a different way than we are accustomed to thinking of it. While love never dies, marriage only lasts until death, and those who attain the heavenly kingdom neither marry or are given in marriage. In fact, we may say that they are then freed to be bonded to everyone in an intimate and holy communion that will last forever, because the bond that brings them together is their nuptial union in Christ.

As we have been talking about the Eucharist this weekend, it is important for us to reflect on it as a nuptial bond between Christ, the Head and us, the members of his body. It is a bond that will last forever, and that includes all people Jesus loves, because we are so intimately united with him that we learn to love all those he loves. It is this nuptial love between Bridegroom and Bride that makes us fruitful in the world, bringing forth new offspring for the Kingdom. It is a higher form of love even than the love we experience in earthly marriage, because we become one Body, one Spirit with all in Christ.

But let us also be honest. Entering into this kind of nuptial love with Christ and the other members of his Body has its rewards, but it is also like putting on handcuffs. It is a sacrificial, self-giving love that may hurt a bit or quite a lot. We remember in a special way in the Eucharist that God shackled himself to us sinners, making himself our servant, because he wanted thus to free us with his love. No Eucharist that forgets the ultimate sacrifice of the cross is worthy of its name. But it demands, too, that we, like our Bridegroom, lay down our lives for one another.

The brothers and their mother in the passage we heard from the Book of Macabees are examples of those who shackled themselves to God so intimately, that they were willing to endure torture and death rather than turn away from this eternal lover. And perhaps this is the reason more people do not attend Mass, because if they are honest with themselves, remembering the sacrificial love of Christ on the cross demands the same kind of love in return. And perhaps putting these “handcuffs” on themselves is what turns them away.   But these faithful brothers knew that the sacrifice was far better than taking the easy way out, because it would be rewarded with eternal love and wedded bliss.

Yes, of course, we can have romantic moments when we come to the Eucharist, moments in which we are overwhelmed by the love of Christ we experience here. And we thank God when those moments come! But here we choose to wed ourselves to Christ Jesus, to put on the handcuffs that keep us linked to him forever, tying our hands against doing evil or reaching out to any other supposed lover. Yet we have the blessed assurance that Jesus first reached out to us, tying himself to us forever, in a bond that can never be broken, a bond of suffering, but a bond of unfathomable glory. For when we allow ourselves to enter this intimate nuptial communion with the Head, we become one flesh also with the other members of his Body, so that the bliss of married love can be shared by one and all; so that it can bear offspring for Christ when we share his good news and let it become flesh in others; and so that we can forever be one with the Triune God and all whom he loves.