Passages: Isaiah 5:1-10; 1 Corinth. 6:18-7:11; Matt. 19:3-12
Ընթերցումներ՝ Եսայու Ե 1-10; Ա Կորնթ Զ 18 – Է.11; Մատթ. ԺԹ 3-12
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
“Love and Marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage. This I tell you brother, you can’t have one without the other.” These 1955 famous lyrics written by Jimmy Van Heusen and popularized by Frank Sinatra speak about the beautiful inseparable union of love and marriage. The union of a husband and wife only possible through the love they share with each other. As Christian’s, we understand this love to be self-sacrificing, hopeful, patient and enduring, all the qualities of not just
husband and wife but of all the saints of the Holy Church. That is why in Armenian, the sacrament of marriage is known as Soorp Bsag or Holy Crowning, referring to the crowns of our saintly martyrs. This crowning of the martyrs does not speak about physical crowns nor the pomp and circumstance of the wedding service. Rather, just as martyrs receive their crown of glory from God, likewise, a newly married couple receives their crowns from God, as the prayer of marriage say, “And now, O Beneficent Lord our God, as you did bless the marriage of our holy ancestors…bless likewise, this marriage…who you have honored with the Holy Crown of Matrimony.” (Prayer of Crowning, Sacrament of Holy Crowning)
This divine union of man and wife is a gift given by God and nothing must divide that union, as scripture teaches us, “…he who made them from the beginning made them male and female,and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So, they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” (vv. 4-6) St. Paul additionally teaches us in today’s reading that as husband and wife, there is a duty to each other to tend, love, and share a deep intimacy that goes beyond the physical relationship. However, my message today my dears, is not a wedding sermon, nor is the Gospel reading today only about a physical or sacramental marriage because not all of us will get married and in the sinful world we live in, not all marriages, even through the Church, remain unbroken. For we all know divorce today is rampant. Yet, scripture speaks to all of us, young and old, even to those who are not married.
The scriptural image of marriage, this union which Christ Jesus teaches us that God the Father has ordained from the very beginning, even the sacramental marriage service of man and woman in the Church are all examples of our communion, our intimacy, our love and marriage to God. Many of us may not see or understand how our communion with God is the same as a marriage union. This may be because today, for many of us, marriage is merely a service we do out of tradition or obligation, a contract between a man and a woman. Or we see it has a failing institution rather than what it is mean to be, what God created it to be – an example of something deeper.
Every Sunday, after the Gospel reading, what do we recite? The Havadamk, the Nicene Creed. And in the Havadamk what do we say about Christ Jesus? “[We believe] in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God… who for us men and our salvation came down from Heaven, took body, was made man and was born…” Meaning, God the Son, emptied himself, lowered himself and took on our form, took physical form in order to suffer, to thirst, to hunger and to feel our joy and pain. (Phil. 2:7) Christ Jesus came to die for us, and to raise us up with Him. This is the fundamental belief of the Christian faith rooted in the love of God for creation. This is also the fundamental reality and the root of true love between a husband and wife. For each to feel each other’s pain and to lift each other up; to wipe the tear the other cries; to celebrate the joy and carry the burdens of life. That is what divine love is and this divine love is what our communion with God is, whether we are physically married or not.
We, as the members of the body of Christ, are the bride, the love of God and for us, Christ Jesus died. Regardless of the pains we feel, the darkness we are surrounded with, the regrets we have, the loss, the sickness, or burdens we carry; regardless of our age, our gender, our skin color, our job title, God’s self-sacrificing love brings us up, lifts us up, wipes our tears and heals us. However, just as a husband and wife must be open to each other, likewise, we must fully open ourselves up to God, come to the Holy Altar and confess our need for healing and our need for God. No matter how fallen we may think we are, God’s love is greater; No matter how far we feel we have fallen, God’s love reaches deeper; No matter where we go in life, God’s love remains because we are His and His love endures forever.
A love that brings all of us into communion with Him. It is this Holy Communion, that God ordained from the beginning, when He created humanity in His Divine image. It is that Holy Communion which we share in when we consume the body and blood of Christ Jesus: “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.’” (John 6:53-56) Therefore, what God has joined, let no one separate.
My dears, today we see marriage failing, we see families falling apart, communities, neighborhoods, cities, countries killing each other and destroying one another physically, emotionally, mentally and especially spiritually. However, it all starts here at the Holy Altar and continues with us. If we do not learn what God’s love for us is, and then take that love outside these doors to our homes, to our workplace, our leisure, etc. then we will create a loveless and broken world. If we are not in communion with God, then we have divided that which God has brought together. Let us therefore, come to God in our brokenness, in our curiosity, humbled and hopeful that His Divine love and our Holy Communion will only grow stronger, in the same way the love of a husband and wife grows stronger over time with care and patience. For if the words of Frank Sinatra say love and marriage are inseparable, God’s love for us is far more indivisible and immovable. “…neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 RSV) Love and marriage, us and God, go together like a horse and carriage. This I tell you brother, we can’t have love without our heavenly Father, no you can’t have one without the other. Amen!