I was recently the celebrant for a couple getting married interstate. I have known the groom for most of his life, having become friends with the family since he was in primary school. His fiancé, I had never met, though, as is true in these times, we had “zoomed” several times prior to the wedding. I met her for the first time as she left the car and prepared to walk down the aisle, accompanied by her loving and adoring father. She impressed me as a wonderful and caring young woman, marrying a man who was similarly blessed with God’s great gift of human kindness.
To help me prepare some words for the occasion, I sent the couple a questionnaire for them to fill in separately, so I could get some idea as to what they hoped to become and be through this sacred marriage.
Two things struck me. One was the love that both had for the other’s families. They both loved the families they were marrying into and found them a great source of love, care, and integrity.
The second thing that struck me was their response to one of the questions: “What is one thing that your future spouse does that annoys you, and you would like them to correct.” Both had written the same thing. “There is nothing in my partner that I don’t like or which annoys me”.
I referred to this in my homily and said, “Give it time, guys, give it time!”.
Those in attendance laughed. Those who were walking that path knew exactly what I meant.
I was graced enough to be raised in a family with a mother and father who totally loved each other and supported each other. I saw times of difficulty but never times of despair. My mum and dad worked hard and loved unconditionally to give us a life that was filled with faith, hope and love. We never had much money, but we were happy, we were loved, and we were safe. Were they perfect? No. But they were graced, and they were kind to each other, never holding a grudge. And that covers many faults and failings that all of us have and that all relationships have.
Are all couples that graced? No. Who are we to say how or why? All I know is that families and marriages are complicated places.
To walk the path of Jesus requires commitment, and care, and kindness, and forgiveness, and understanding. It’s a big call.
And through life’s journeys, none of us can always walk with a straight back and a strong stride. All I know is that Jesus fed people first, and then he asked the questions and gave the teaching. Not the other way around
Who knows what any of us carry, or have had to carry, in our hearts.
Everyone deserves a break.
Peter Gardiner is a Passionist Priest based in Sydney. He is presently teaching English to our Passionist students in Indonesia.