In the Gospel we just heard Jesus say that “from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female,” and “for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Jesus is quoting here from Genesis, but something about these words has always struck me as a little strange. Why did Jesus and Genesis mention that ‘a man shall leave his father and mother to be joined to his wife?”
We tend to think of the bride as leaving her family to join her husband. Traditionally, as we saw today, her father walks her down the aisle to give her away, and the bride changes her name to match her husband’s. Perhaps it was put this way (“a man shall leave his father and mother”) because for the man must go out in pursuit of his bride. If a woman in a relationship found out that her man was leaving it to her to pursue him she would be very disappointed.
There is, I think, another important reason for the choice of these words: these words speak of Christ. Jesus left His eternal Father’s house in Heaven to become a man, and then He departed His perfect mother’s house to begin His ministry, all in pursuit of winning a bride, His bride the Church. Jesus is the man who left His father and His mother to be joined to his wife.
From the beginning of creation, God had made us male and female. So when the Lord sought to be perfectly united with us, Christ became a human being. Jesus became one flesh with our humanity, so that we could become one with His divinity. He came as a man because a man, like God, pursues his beloved. He comes to us as a man in love, not out of lust, not to dominate us or for His own selfish pleasure, but for a noble purpose. Jesus comes to propose to us and to enter into a marriage between Heaven and Earth, between God and man, between Himself and His bride, the Church.
Nick and Laurel, the sacrament you are about to enter, the sacrament of marriage, connects you to this union between Christ and the Church. Don’t try to rely on you own resources alone, but connect to the power of your sacrament. Nick, ask Jesus to let you share the love He has for His bride. Then, empowered by this love, you will lay down your life for your bride, and cherish her and bless her as long as you both shall live. Laurel, ask Mary and the saints, to let you share the love they have for the Bridegroom. Then, empowered by this love, you will rejoice in your husband, and honor him and follow him as long as you both shall live. Remember, this sacrament you are about to enter is not merely a symbol the of love between Christ and His bride. It makes that love truly present in you.