Marriage, the Icon of God’s Love
Every week, Pope Francis gives a General Audience on Wednesday. For the last several Wednesdays, he has spoken to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square about the sacraments. On Wednesday April 2, he talked about the sacrament of marriage.
He first spoke about the theology of marriage and its place in God’s plan for humanity. Marriage, the pope said, “leads us to the heart of God’s design, which is a plan for a Covenant with his people.” In fact, marriage itself represents God’s faithful covenant with His people: “And this is very beautiful!” exclaimed the pope.
Marriage also provides us with an image of God. The Holy Father explained, “The image of God is the married couple: the man and woman; not only the man, not only the woman, but both together.” Together, husband and wife “mirror” the communion of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who “live eternally in perfect unity.” Spouses, too, reflect unity: “God makes of the two spouses one single life,” said Pope Francis. “The Bible uses a powerful expression and says ‘one flesh’, so intimate is the union between man and woman in marriage.”
In addition to being an image of God and a sign of God’s covenant with His people, the Holy Father said that marriage also reflects Christ’s love for His Church, as St. Paul taught in Ephesians 5. Because of marriage’s identity – image of God, sign of covenant and Christ’s love for the Church – husband and wife have a unique mission on earth. “The spouses, in fact, in virtue of the Sacrament, are invested with a true and proper mission, so that starting with the simple ordinary things of life they may make visible the love with which Christ loves His Church, by continuing to give his life for her in fidelity in service.”
In his last section, Pope Francis fleshed out the mission of the married couple in even more detail. He acknowledged that every married couple faces difficulties and argues – “sometimes the plates even fly”! – but that it is always possible to keep alive the bond of marriage, which has its foundation in God. The pope encouraged married couples to pray with and for each other: “When the family prays, the bond is preserved.”
And he exhorted couples to always seek peace: “do not let a day when you have argued end without making peace.” Echoing earlier talks, he ended by reminding husbands and wives of the three most important phrases in marriage: “may I, thank you, and sorry. … With these three words, with the prayer of the husband for the wife and vice versa, by always making peace before the day comes to an end, marriage will go forward.”
Marriage is an image of God’s love, and there are very practical things couples can do to make this image shine in all its brilliance. In his address, Pope Francis beautifully blended theology and sanctity, faith and life. His words provide a reliable roadmap for all married couples.
Read the full text on the Vatican website: General Audience, April 2, 2014