Wedding of Mary Ann and Mark Sherman
[Scripture Readings: Sg 2:8-10, 14, 16; 8:6-7; 1 Cor 12:31-13:8; Mt 22:35-40 ]
The first Scriputre reading is taken from Solomon’s Song of Songs; it expresses the love between a bride and a bridegroom.
Bride: 2:8 “The voice of the beloved! Behold he comes leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a young stag or a gazelle. Behold, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice. My beloved speaks to me.”
Bridegroom: “Arise my love, my, fair one and come away; for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come. Arise my love, my fair one and come away. 1: 15 Behold you are beautiful, my beloved, truly lovely, behold you are beautiful. 4::9 You have ravished my heart. 7:6. How fair and how pleasant you are!”
Bride: 1:16 “My beloved is mine and I am his. 4:4 My beloved put his hand to the latch, and my heart was thrilled within me. I arose to open to my beloved and my fingers dripped with liquid myrrh upon the handles of the bolt. I opened to my beloved but he had turned and gone. 5:1 I called him but he gave no answer. I will rise now and go about the city in the streets and squares. I will seek him whom. my soul loves. Scarcely had I passed when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go. 6:5 I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. 5: 10 My beloved is all radiant, distinguished among ten thousand. His speech is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend.”
Today, in this wedding chapel, we see in Mark and Mary Ann the same love and joy that was expressed three thousand years ago between the bride and bridegroom in the Song of Songs. In the Scriptures there are actually four Greek words for love expressing the four joys of marriage.
First, eros, romantic love between a man and a woman, the joy of passionate, physical, sexual love.
Second, philia, the love of friendship. I remember Mary Ann referring to Mark as her best friend. That is the way marriage should be. Only in marriage can the love and joy of friendship be realized without any restrictions.
Third, sterge, familial love, or the love of parents for their children, such as Bob and Shirley for Mark, and Bruce and Fran for Mary Ann. It is also the love children have for their parents and for each other. This is a joy that Mark and Mary Ann already share. For they are being welcomed into new family relationships with one another’s parents, and their brothers and sisters.
Fourth, agape, caring and sacrificing love, the love that is concerned for the needs of others. It is generosity and sharing. The first three forms of love are spontaneous and pleasing. But the fourth is a form of love we have to learn and sometimes it is difficult, self-sacrificing. But this caring love is what makes the other three forms of love more charming and beautiful by keeping them from mere selfishness and turning them to care for the happiness of another. For example, a lonely person once wrote: “I live in a shell, that is inside a wall, that is inside a fort, that is inside a tunnel, that is under the sea, where I am safe from you.. But if you really love and care for me you would break through and find me.” Yes, caring love breaks through the barriers and defenses that others put up. Like the bridegroom in the Song of Songs who was gone when the bride opened the door. Does she really care enough to go searching for him? Or, like a child who runs away from home thinking subconsciously, “Do they really care enough to come looking for me?”
It is this caring love which goes beyond the natural ties of family and friends to help strangers in their time of need. Like the Good Samaritan who helped the man who fell among robbers. It is about this type of love that we will one day hear Christ say to us, “I was hungry and you fed me; naked and you clothed me.” You cared.
And when Christ taught us to love even our “enemies” the word used in the New Testament
is not eros, the romantic love of man and wife; nor philia, the love of friendship; nor sterge, which is family love; but agape, the love that cares, that says, “I will help you, I will love you.”
In marriage, too, when frictions develop, (and they will), it is this love that overcomes the difficulties by being self-sacrificing, by caring for the needs of the other person.
Mark and Mary Ann, all of us here in this wedding chapel want to congratulate you and wish you every form of love and joy, but especially the love that will always say, “I care.”