If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 1but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13)
I wish I could give you some words of wisdom from the homily given at my own wedding 41 years ago. But I can’t. I can’t remember a word of it. But you will, because this homily is different. Because I am your Father, Erin, and soon to be your father-in-law, Tony and every time I see you from now on I am going to ask you about it.
This is a moment of great beauty and great meaning which transcends the flowers, the dress, the music (sorry Sandy). What makes this time so special? This moment embraces two qualities that are central to our humanity- love, and hope.
Human beings feel these things as no other creatures on earth. We are the only ones who have the capacity to truly love one another, to cherish one another and to hope with one another. Because of this, these two feelings carry the spark of the Divine; they are God’s signature within us.
God has also given us the ability to choose with whom we share our love and our hope. And this is why this day, this moment, means so much. Because by marrying one another you are saying more than just “I do.” You are saying I choose you. A wedding is about making a choice to love someone for a lifetime and committing your life to that person; It is about giving and opening your heart without reservation to that one special person. Today, you are saying far more than “I do”. You are saying “I do” believe in love. I do believe in hope. You are saying “I choose you for a lifetime of both love and hope.” Today you are affirming the mystery of God’s love and hope, and saying that you care for one another and will care for one another no matter what. You are saying that you believe that your future together will be brighter because you are together.
You are expressing with your presence and your promises here today something that poets have been trying to put into words for centuries. So, let me try to express it with a story. Erin, when you were three or four years old you used to stand on the living room couch and look out the window of the front of the house, waiting for me to come home. One night I had worked late and I just knew I had missed you and that you were probably in bed. Bus as I drove up the driveway I could see your face in the window, waiting for me. No matter what kind of day I had had, no matter what I had done, your love grounded me, put my priorities in order and gave me hope.
As a couple, your love is the shelter from the storm; it is a light in the darkness of your day. Today, you are promising to nurture your marriage and protect it from the wind, the rain and the cold. Today, by saying I do, you are promising to be the light for each other, with your love, with your hope and with your choices.
I would like to say something to the friends and relatives who are here today. Most of us are familiar with the beautiful words of St. Paul we heard a moment ago- his clear and eloquent verses about love. We hear this scripture often at weddings. But Paul was not talking about marriage. He was writing to the Corinthians about how to live together as a community. And so, I would like to ask all of you here, this community, to take those words to heart, to make those words a prayer- and then give them back as a gift to this couple. I ask all of you to strive, very simply, to be the definition of love for this couple; to be patient with them and kind to them. Rejoice with them. Believe with them. Hope with them. Endure with them.
This is what Paul asks of the Corinthians- and really, it is what Christ asks of us. If we truly live this way- with this couple and with each other- we will give this bride and groom gifts more valuable than any gift on their registry; gifts that will not tarnish and will not wear out. The gifts of love and hope.
Erin and Tony, it is my prayer that you will always give hope and love a place in your home and that you will always choose to love one another, and that this love gives you reason to hope that the future is always bright.