“As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Joshua leads the Israelites amid great difficulty and uncertainty to God. He speaks about all the opportunities the Israelites are offered to step away from God and worship others, and he reminds the people of the breadth of God’s love; the beauty of His forgiveness. He proclaims his and his family’s fidelity to serve the LORD.
Today, we may easily affirm that we serve the LORD. What do we mean? To serve the LORD means that we serve God with ‘all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. (Mark 12:30)’ It means that the Lord our God is with us; we bring forth God to others in all that we are. We lead sacramental lives, offering each other the gift of God’s indelible love, through our experience of the Eucharist.
Joshua offers his entire family, not just himself to the LORD. St. Paul writes about this sacramental offering when he discusses marriage with the Ephesians. He says, “Wives and husbands, be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). The love between a husband and wife comes from God. It is placed in our hearts by God to fulfill his loving design for each person. The sanctity of marriage unites the entire being of spouses in love and is a sign of God’s love for humanity.
The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, unity and permanence, which embraces their entire life. St. Paul speaks about this to the Ephesians as he wrote, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31). The spouses are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving. This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the Sacrament of Marriage. It is deepened by lives of faith and by the Eucharist received together. The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian marriage.
In a profound way, marriage represents and reflects the love Jesus Christ has for his Church. St. Paul offers, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Those who are called to the vocation of marriage are called to place God in the center of their marriage, realizing that God instituted marriage as a Sacrament. Pope Francis asked of visitors during a Papal audience recently, “But we must ask ourselves in all seriousness: Do we fully accept — we as faithful and pastors, too — this indissoluble connection between the relationship of Christ and the church with the relationship of marriage and the human family? Are we willing to seriously take on this responsibility? That is, that every marriage takes the path of the love Christ has for the church? This is something huge.”
Marriage is the joining together of a man and a woman to be co-creators with God to bring children into the world. Family is a microcosm of the world and it is how we are introduced to our faith and our understanding of self-less love. When we love and trust God and follow his will for our lives, we cherish families, marriages and the children entrusted to us. We also respect the gift of life from conception to natural death. Pope Francis said, “The family provides the principal place where we can begin to “breathe” values and ideals, as well to realize our full capacity for virtue and charity.” The husband and wife become a domestic Church as partners in the creation of “a new heaven and a new earth.”
St. Paul says the heavenly bond of love through marriage “is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32).
Let us pray, my sisters and brothers, that we help each other to create a new heaven and a new earth through the beauty of marriage as a Sacrament.