My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
I think it is wonderful that we are celebrating World Marriage Day at our Eucharistic celebration today. And especially so many of you who are celebrating your anniversaries. I suppose that there are all kinds of anniversaries — 25 years, 30, 40 — right there is a couple that’s celebrating 70 years of marriage. 70. Congratulations — 70 years is a lot! Please stand so that we can see you. Wonderful, congratulations.
So, as we know, God is the author of every marriage and marriage is part of his beautiful plan for creation. Through your love, until death do you part, God is calling you to share in his mission, to renew the face of the earth by your love.
So today we celebrate marriage — and we celebrate your marriage anniversaries. We pray that you grow in holiness as husbands and wives and we pray today in a special way to strengthen the institutions of marriage and the family in our society.
I think in light of the readings that we have just heard today, we can understand that marriage is an act of faith, an act of discipleship. Marriage is about following Jesus. In entering into marriage, the husband and wife are each responding to the personal call of Jesus Christ.
Jesus calls spouses to join their separate, individual journeys into one new path that Jesus now calls them to walk together with him. As you know in your own lives, marriage is a journey of love, a journey of friendship that grows and deepens day by day.
It is really a vocation. Marriage is a vocation. It is a calling from God. So it’s fitting that the readings we have just heard in this Holy Mass are all about God’s calling and our vocation as his disciples.
As we just heard, the Lord called the prophet Isaiah in the first reading, and he calls all of us personally.
God is saying to all of us what we heard him say to Isaiah: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”
And as Isaiah did we all want to respond, “Here I am, send me!”
And we know that the Lord’s call is an invitation to share in his mission. He is sending us into the world to be witnesses to his love — by the way we live.
We carry out his mission by the grace that he gives us. And we know that he will do great things through us, no matter what our weaknesses and failings.
But I think the passage of the Gospel is very interesting, especially the reaction of St. Peter when Jesus asks him to go fishing. St. Peter looks like he was really frustrated — he has been working hard, fishing all night — and he has nothing to show for us.
But St. Peter has faith in Jesus. He trusts God.
So when Jesus tells him to go to deeper water, to lower his nets again, St,. Peter does just what he’s told. Not because he thinks it makes sense but because he has faith that Jesus goes with him.
What Jesus asks of you who are married — as married couples — and what he asks of every one of us is faith. Trust him. Believe in his love for us — for you, for me, personally. Hold fast to the Word of God. Never give in to discouragement. He is with us! Really. He is with you, with each one of us all the time.
So, as we reflect on that, we have to react just like St. Peter. Keep putting out into the deep, keep going deeper in your commitment to Jesus, to the mission he gives us.
As long as we stay faithful to Jesus, to what he asks of us — he will do the rest. We need that confidence St. Peter has — we need to trust in God’s mercy, trust that he will provide for us. No matter what happens in life, we need to say as Peter did, “But at your command, I will lower the nets.”
My dear brothers and sisters, God knows that we have weakness, that we are not perfect.
In the second reading of today’s Mass, St. Paul reminds us that once he — St. Paul — “persecuted the Church of God.” And despite that, God used St. Paul to be his greatest apostles.
So we should never be afraid of the call of Christ! He does not choose us because we are “ready” or because any great gifts we have.
It’s true that sometimes we feel that we cannot do it.
In the first reading, the prophet tries to run away from God. He feels he’s not worthy, not holy enough to stand in God’s presence.
St. Peter does the same thing in the Gospel. He tells Jesus: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
This is the beautiful truth about God. He calls us to follow him and serve him — even though we could never be worthy.
Jesus does not reject us because we are sinful. He does not turn away because we are unclean or unholy. He draws closer to us. He speaks our name. He invites us to be purified and to share in his holiness. He invites us to be holy as he is holy.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, like St. Peter, like Isaiah, like St. Paul — we all know our limitations, our sinfulness. And as we stand in the Lord’s presence, we need to be honest about ourselves, just as they were. We need to have that same humility that they showed.
St. Paul tells us today, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”
And this is true! If we are honest with ourselves then we realize that it is not about us. We are living on God’s grace, the grace that comes to us through Jesus’ death on the cross.
But if we trust in him, if we believe in his love, he will give us — each one of us — every good grace to accomplish our mission in life. For us, it’s impossible. But for God, everything is possible.
That’s the beautiful call that we all have. In the reality of our limitations, we are called to be witnesses of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
So, my dear married couples, Jesus wants to work miracles in our lives. In your marriages. Little miracles of everyday love, of everyday kindness and compassion. This is how we follow Jesus and this is how we renew the world in his love.
So today, all of us, let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to intercede for us today and every day. She was with Jesus, as we know, at the wedding feast of Cana when he sanctified marriage and made it a Sacrament.
We ask Our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph her Spouse St. Joseph to go with all of us — with you as you celebrate you anniversary of marriage and with all married couples — as your love will be more and more a divine path that you are walking together with Jesus. And may Mary, Joseph, and Jesus accompany every married couple and their families in their journey of faith and love.
1. Readings (5th Sunday in Ordinary Time): Isa. 6:1-2a, 3-8; Ps. 138: 1-8; 1 Cor. 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11.