Homily of Bishop Jaime Soto from World Marriage Day Mass 2021

En esta celebración del matrimonio cristiano, seamos inspirados por el testimonio de aquel santo matrimonio entre la Virgen María y su venerado esposo, San José. La pareja humilde de Nazaret se encaminó por numerosas calamidades mientras cuidaban uno y otro, y el don inestimado del niño Jesús, el hijo de María. A través de muchos acontecimientos inesperados, siempre confiaban en la providencia de la divina misericordia. Así, San José fue siempre fiel a María y Jesús. La sabiduría de Dios, y no sus propias preocupaciones, le ayudó para cumplir con su compromiso a la familia. En esta manera, San José se llevó acabo su parte en la gran historia redentora. Así, también cada matrimonio cristiano, con la misma humildad y el cariño de San José y la Santísima Madre María, es parte de la gran historia redentora realizada por la muerte y resurrección de Cristo. Esta obra maravillosa, revelada en el relato sencillo de cada matrimonio, celebramos hoy. Demos gracias a Dios por el favor de participar en la obra salvadora de Jesús. Agradezcamos a los muchos matrimonios que generosamente han colaborado con la gracias de Dios en su vida.

The prophet Isaiah calls us to holiness by doing the works of God. We should remove from our lives all oppression and malicious speech. We should feed the hungry. We should keep holy the Lord’s Day. These are all good things. More than that, they are the works of God. When our actions are in harmony with God’s work, the prophet promised that light will shine upon us. The clouds of gloom will fade in the radiant light of mercy. We will be like living springs of lifegiving water. We will delight always in the Lord. These are the fruits given to those who live in harmony with God’s wisdom.

Marriage is also part of God’s marvelous work. Those married couples who understand their marital union as part of God’s great covenant of life and love draw strength and perseverance from his abiding mercy. Today we take the opportunity to recognize the divine handiwork in those men and women who reflect the image and likeness of God by their fidelity and love over many years of married love. God created each of you. His providence wedded you to one another. Your sacramental lives have served as signs and instruments of his mercy, for one another, for your children, for the Church, and the world.

Marriage is not an easy work. Few, if any, can do this work by human effort alone. Only by immersing yourselves in the Lord’s fountain of grace are you renewed like a watered garden. God becomes for you the spring of charity whose merciful water never fails.

This year, we also pause to honor the testimony of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Together with Mary, Joseph endured many trials. Many of the circumstances of their lives were out of their control. They suffered through many calamities they could not have anticipated: Mary’s surprising pregnancy, the journey to Bethlehem, the flight into the Egypt to escape the bitter wrath of Herod, and so much more. Through it all, Joseph relied on the wisdom of God to guide him. Mary relied on Joseph to protect her and her Son. As they endured each misfortune and adapted to each unforeseen predicament, there was never any anger, resentment or despair. Joseph let God’s wisdom guide the Holy Family, believing always that light would rise from the darkness and the gloom would become like midday.

The plights and tribulations of the holy couple, Mary and Joseph, echoes in the uncertainties and calamities faced by many marriages today, especially during this time of pandemic. The history of Mary and Joseph is only truly appreciated as part of the Salvation History fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is true for the stories of many Christian marriages. Your marriage covenant is only truly understood as part of the one Salvation story sanctified and glorified in the paschal mystery of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

Every marriage is like every Christian story. Jesus calls us to follow him, not because we are saints but because we are sinners. In following him, he leads us in the way of holiness. The path of Christian marriage is a journey leading us to holiness, the holiness of Christ. This is what we celebrate now.

In the gospel today, Levi, the tax collector, invited Jesus to a banquet in his home. Jesus is the one who has invited married couples to his banquet in the home of his heavenly Father. We taste the sweet joy of that eternal feast around the table of the Eucharist. We also savor those heavenly gifts around the table of married love. At both tables sits the Lord Jesus nourishing us with the mercy, wisdom and joy that flows from the living stream of his most Sacred Heart.

This bilingual homily was delivered by Bishop Jaime Soto at St. Isidore Parish in Yuba City on Saturday, February 20, 2021 for the World Marriage Day Mass, which honors marriage and salutes the beauty of faithfulness, sacrifice, and joy in married life.