Two by Two
Mary Jo and I recently attended a wedding of a very good friend of our daughter Cara, who was one of the bridesmaids. The bride, as all brides are on their wedding day, was radiant, resplendent and overflowing with joy. She comes from a solid Catholic family, the oldest of seven children. Likewise, the groom hails from good Catholic stock also, he being the eldest of eight children. Naturally, it was a large wedding party and the ceremony was held in a beautiful church located out in the countryside. It is the type of church they just do not build any more, with beautiful stained glass windows and the tabernacle directly behind the altar. As the bridesmaids and groomsmen processed down the aisle two by two, the afternoon light shone through the stained glass, casting a warm glow inside the sanctuary.
It was the type of wedding ceremony that uplifts your spirit and makes you feel hopeful about the Sacrament of Marriage, which is under attack on so many fronts in our culture. You believed that this young couple was truly committed to one another and was aware that God needed to be placed at the center of the new life they were embarking upon together. We came home from the ceremony and the reception feeling that joyful spirit.
It just so happened that the following day our parish was celebrating vocations at the Sunday Masses, in particular the vocation of married life. The Gospel reading was from Mark, Chapter 6:7-13, which begins with these words; “Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two…” At the mass we attended, all married couples were asked to stand and renew their marriage vows as a witness to the entire congregation. As Mary Jo and I recited the vows of renewal I found myself unexpectedly getting quite emotional. As I looked into Mary Jo’s eyes and again promised to “love her and honor her in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health… for as long as we both shall live” my thoughts turned back to our own wedding day, over 33 years ago. Somewhat like the young couple we witnessed exchanging their wedding vows the day before, we were just two young, naïve kids who knew we were crazy in love, but probably had no real clue as to what we were getting into.
Now, thirty-three years later I think I can understand a bit better what those words of commitment really mean. We have been though many of the “bad times”, along with the good. There were times when we were not on the same page, perhaps not even in the same book, on some very important issues. But by the grace bestowed on us in the sacrament we made it through those difficult times. I think that the passing years give you a clearer perspective on many fronts and I can appreciate now in retrospect that we could not have done this on our own; it was only by having room for God to enter into our marriage that we could pass through those darkest of times.
Our daughters went to a later mass that day and reported that at that mass there was a special ceremony to honor couples who have been married for over 50 years. They said that about the first 8 to 10 pews were filled with these wonderful examples of committed couples and that one couple had even celebrated 70 years of married life. Now that is quite a powerful witness!
So, it seems that our Lord certainly knew what he was doing by sending out his apostles two by two on their mission to preach the word and spread the good news. Likewise, it is apparent that married couples, also going out into the world two by two, live out their vocation and their mission to spread the good news. The good news that witnesses to God’s plan for married life. A life certainly containing trials and tribulations, but also more importantly, a life lived to the fullest in a shared love and joy which cannot be matched by anything the world may have to offer.