Homily of Bishop Jaime Soto from the 2022 World Marriage Day Mass

The following homily was delivered on Saturday, February 12, 2022 by Bishop Jaime Soto at St. Lawrence the Martyr Parish in North Highlands for the World Marriage Day Mass:

The first reading from the first book of Kings is a sober reminder of the corrupting power of idolatry. The unity of the 12 tribes of Israel was destroyed when the king of the Northern kingdoms fashioned idols and began to build temples so that the people would not travel to temple of Jerusalem to worship the one true God. This was a great sin because it led the people away from the covenant God had made with their ancestors, Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.

Idolatry is not just a practice of ancient times. Idolatry is still a great temptation today. We live in a time when technology has helped humanity to make unbelievable advances in industry, communication, and health. Through extraordinary technological advances we have been able to peer into the deep recesses of space to see stars and planets far beyond the ability of our own sight. We can probe the infinitesimally small world of microbes and genetic elements that make up the human body. All these technological developments and more have brought many wonderful benefits to our lives. They can also tempt us to believe that we are the masters of all we behold. Technology teaches us many wonderful things about creation but it can also deceive us into thinking that we can now conceive and create a world in our own image. This is a modern version of idolatry when we see in creation only a reflection of ourselves and fail to see the wisdom and mercy of the creator.

When technological idolatry leads us to see the world in our own image and likeness, we then forget that we too are part of creation, that God created us in his own image and likeness. There is no greater glory and beauty then to see ourselves and the world around us as a reflection of a wise and merciful God. If we let ourselves be fooled by technology, we trade the beautiful reflection of God’s glory for empty idols proposed by a fickle marketplace.

This morning we gather together to praise and thank our God whose wisdom and mercy we see in the image of men and women united in Christian marriage. The marriage of man and woman, since the beginning of the book of Genesis, was created to be a reflection of the divine, created to be the image and likeness of God.

Let this be the cause of our joy this morning. Let this be the reason for our admiration. All of you who have come together to give thanks for the many years of married life and the Church rejoices with you. Along with all the reasons that each of you have for choosing your spouse as well as the many sacrifices and sorrows, the joys and delights that mark your journeys together, God is the creator whose mysterious mercy brought you together as a new creation. He continues to shepherd his divine image in you.

Do not let the powerful allure of all our technological capacities distract us from contemplating the beautiful work of God’s loving creative hand in your lives. We may too easily belittle the wider impact of your daily martial devotion. Today’s gospel reminds us of what God can achieve in us, with us, and for us. The disciples were overwhelmed by the large hungry crowd. With the simple, meager gifts of 7 loaves of bread and a few fish Jesus created a abundance of love that was more than enough to satisfy the starving multitude.

The Lord Jesus has taken into his tender, merciful hands the simple gift of your married love and has created an abundance of blessing and grace. Continue to place yourselves and your families in his hands. Even with the many uncertainties and anxieties that still surround us, remember that Jesus still holds you in his hands. As he did in the gospel today, he holds you, gives to thanks to His Father for you, and will continue to let his blessings flow through you to one another, to your families, and the communities that surround you.

On the day of your marriage vows you took your spouse’s hands into yours. Jesus chose your hands to express his love for each of you that day. In a brief while you will do the same again. Let the Lord Jesus once more use your hands to bring an abundance of grace into each other’s lives so that the divine image and likeness can be discovered and cherished in your mutual gaze.