Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson
Whether we’re discussing any of our possessions, from a house to a houseboat and everything in between, we are often involved in a lament over the cost of maintenance and repair of same. It’s the downside of ownership. In the case of certain specific objects, for instance a backyard in-ground pool or a condo in Florida, there arises the added responsibility of managing visits from lots of “new friends.”
So it is in our supernatural lives. There are blessings to enjoy and woes to avoid in our relationship with God. There is maintenance to keep up and managing efforts to turn down the many temptations sent our way from Satan.
The whole process is particularly strenuous on members of an affluent society like ours because so often we mistake what we own with what we’re worth in God’s eyes. Note how our Holy Founder Jesus maintained “a preferential option for the poor” long before His Church coined the phrase. His prophet Jeremiah urges us today to put our trust in God and not goods. That is doubly difficult when the goods are abundant and the poor are seemingly invisible.
Today is “World Marriage Day” for the Church. It is a much needed recognition of all those who live this vocation, and the celebration of all that God does for couples. Of course, they are the other experts on marital blessings and woes. Others stand by as helpers, like parish priests, counselors and the like. Over the years, having met a good number of married people either across my desk or across my confessional, I know what hurts or hinders successful married harmony.
The Church wants to lift up all their hearts, and underline the importance of what they do in fidelity to their vows. She believes they grace the world in a unique way. If children are part of the picture, all the more so. They are the Church’s great treasure and God’s delight, despite the inevitable woes that come along. They should never be “canceled” in the present strange understanding of that word. Nor should marriage ever be considered “Woke” by anybody at any time. This hope, as St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians, is solidly based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We know that He was a guest at a wedding reception at a tiny town named Cana, in Galilee, and created a sacrament there along with wine made from water.
Call this story “The Whistling Husband.” A man tells of the day he was driving quietly along a country road and suddenly realized that he was lost. “I stopped at a small farmhouse to ask for directions, and I saw an elderly woman sitting on the porch. An elderly man was working around the front yard, whistling nonstop. The whistling was loud and clear, but it seemed to be aimless and purposeless. There was no recognizable tune, just whistling.
When I walked up to the man, I couldn’t resist saying ‘I see you’re fond of whistling.’ ‘Oh’ he said, ‘it’s second nature to me now.’ Then, pointing to the woman on the porch, he explained that she was his wife, and that they had been happily married for forty years when she became blind. Coming as it did so late in life, the blindness had been a very frightening experience for her, and she was still feeling a deep-seated insecurity.
The husband then added, ‘I figured if I just keep whistling while I’m outside the house, she’ll have the security of knowing I’m still with her.’”
God love all our married sisters and brothers. May He give you His peace.
Reading I: Jeremiah 17: 5-8: The prophet offers wisdom by saying that truthful people are blest. He uses the idea common at that time of the just man being like a green tree.
Reading II: I Corinthians 15: 12, 16-20:Paul makes the point that what was done for Christ in His resurrection can be done for everyone who believes and tries to live His way.
The Gospel: Luke 6: 17, 20-26:Jesus’ great sermon (on the plain) involves the listing of the beatitudes followed by that of the woes. The latter keep in check any facile decision we may make about who is or is not “the poor of God.”