My wife and I encountered peace this past weekend. Not as the world gives peace in the material or the temporal, but we encountered peace in the grace of our marriage Sacrament that we share with God. We encountered each other again and rekindled that love and grace that caused us to express those vows 15 years ago. We attended a Marriage Encounter Weekend here locally that reaffirmed what it means to be married, and what it means to be married as a Catholic. Some ask, “did you fall back in love?” Others probably wonder – “What’s wrong with their marriage?”
You see, in today’s world, we wait until things are broken before we decide to fix it. It’s not that my wife and I are not in love. It’s not that we were having major problems. It’s that we are striving to be better. In society today, we often lose sight of our spouses amidst the hustle and bustle of life – our careers, families, finances, and various other communities or activities we are involved in. This high-tech world in the information age yields a high-volume, multi-task lifestyle in the home. Often, it’s our marriages, and our relationships with our spouses that take a back seat.
So, nothing is wrong with our marriage if you look at it in a worldly view. It’s normal. We love each other. We support each other. We have arguments from time to time, but hey, who doesn’t? But the thing is, you have an argument, and then you don’t communicate effectively, and you say things you shouldn’t, and you go and do things you shouldn’t, and people don’t want to give into their pride and seek forgiveness, nor do they want to forgive. And before you know it, this becomes a pattern – and “Houston, we’ve got a problem.” Your marriage becomes a rut that you’re stuck in, and you go through the motions, and many people start looking for a way out. The easy way out. They let their pride take over and refuse to see it from their spouse’s point of view and understand their feelings. They have to be right, and they have to win.
So many people are there. Are my wife and I there? No, we aren’t, thank goodness. Not yet. But you never know what could happen down the road, if you don’t take care of things in the present. Everyone has their breaking point, and marriage provides a lot of hardships. There are a lot of peaks in a marriage, but there are also a lot of valleys. Marriage is not easy. But anything worthwhile takes work. It takes discipline. It takes patience. And it takes humility. And marriage – the Sacrament of Marriage – is worthwhile.
Working on your marriage, learning how to communicate and make each other better through God’s grace is worthwhile. It’s not the easy road. It’s the road less traveled, and often there are huge ruts, holes, rocks, and other obstacles in the way. But the rewards of traversing this road are limitless. This is why we attended the marriage encounter this weekend – to do that preventative maintenance on our marriage for our trip down this bumpy and dangerous road.
St Luke writes today in the first reading from Acts of the Apostles, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.”
What the disciples were doing was not easy. And they were undergoing many hardships, and it was only through God’s grace that Paul was alive at all. And through all their struggles, they persevered through them, even at times when maybe they were just going through the motions and perhaps in a rut. Perhaps at times, the disciples wondered, is this all there is? Is this really what Jesus asked of me? How many married couples have asked this same thing of God?
And when they arrived, they called the Church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. Then they spent no little time with the disciples.
At these times of heartache and struggle, they would come together as a Church, and look at all they had accomplished, and who they had become. And they spent time together, rekindling that community, that love, and that mission which brought them together. They recharged their batteries for the next leg of their journey down that bumpy road. We as married couples are called to do this. We need to do this from time to time.
Going into this weekend, I knew I love my wife. Of course I do. But I also knew that after 15 years, 7 of those with a son in the mix, life gets in the way. We love our son, and obviously would die for him, but at the same time, he came into our world. We didn’t come into his. We need to take care of each other first and foremost – husband and wife – if we are to be the best parents we can be for our son. Renewal is an important part of everything in life. It helps you remember what is important and it helps you realize what you have, what you’ve been given, and what you can do. It refreshes you and helps you to see your current situation from a different perspective. Because life is all about perspective. Paul, Peter, and the rest of the disciples knew this. Jesus knew this, which is why we reconvene every week, and every day if you want to, to share in His great Sacrifice, and His great Grace.
This reflection started with Jesus talking in the Gospel today, and the rest of the reading goes as this:
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.”
When the world bears down on us and corners us, we can take solace in that Christ will come back to us. He will save us from those evils that seek to destroy us – us as individuals, our families, and our marriages. All we must do is seek Him back. As married couples, we have the power to change the world through God’s grace he’s given us. A loving marriage, one that constantly seeks to renew in our faith and embrace the Holy Sacrament to make each other better is one of the best defenses against evil. Satan knows that if he can break up marriages, he destroys humanity. Just look at the world around us. He’s giving it his best effort. But Jesus proves that as long as we are obedient and subordinate to God and His will, we will receive His grace and we will overcome. We will prevail.
And this is nowhere more apparent that in a loving, graceful marriage. We must be subordinate to each other’s feelings, if we are to truly experience the love that God shares with us in that bond with our spouse. Jesus comes back to us through the Sacraments, and one of the most powerful is Marriage. Let’s embrace this fact, and seek to do His will as married couples, and take the road less traveled, for in it is the shorter path to Heaven.
May God Bless all you married couples out there across the world.