Marriage is HARD. Take two imperfect people and stick them together for life, in sickness and in health, in bad moods and bad habits, and you are bound to have trouble. But marriage is God’s idea. This is the path ordained for most of us to smooth out our rough edges and help us to grow. Growth is always a challenge. When we experience the discomfort involved in the challenges of marriage, we should rejoice that we are being stretched and molded like clay into the pot that the Potter has in mind for us to become. I know this, but knowing and living it are two different things.
Today our parish celebrated the Queenship of Mary. The gospel reading was the story of the Annunciation–the angel Gabriel comes to a young Jewish girl to seek her cooperation with God’s plan of salvation by being the mother of Jesus, the second person of the Trinity. Of course, this could mean shame or death for her, an unwed mother in her time. Nonetheless, she said “yes” to God. I think it was because she figured that if God was going to do this miraculous thing, that he would somehow work things out in the end–in other words, she trusted God.
This reminds me of Abraham when he was told by God that he would have descendants that would outnumber the stars. When he and his barren wife were 100 and 90, God gave them Isaac. Later, God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Unbelievably, he goes to do this. The book of Hebrews gives us insight as to why Abraham was able to do this–it says that he considered that God is able to raise someone from the dead. He also trusted that God, who gave him the miraculous baby boy, could also miraculously bring him back. He trusted God.
Like these Biblical heroes, we are asked for our cooperation in God’s plan when we marry another flawed human being and bring forth children. We must also trust like they did that somehow God will work it all out in the end, even though we cannot see how it could possibly happen. St Paul said in Phillipians 1:6, “And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” I believe that one of the keys to having a successful marriage is to have trust in God and his timing. Marriage is a good work that he began, and he will bring it to completion.
God gave me this little insight today while I was at Mass: I was in the cry room with the baby, and standing during the kneeling parts because I don’t want to just sit, nor can I kneel with the baby in the Ergo. I was reminded of a man who was part of the RCIA entering the Catholic Church at the same time I was back in 2000. I was thinking of him because he would always stand during Mass. It was because he was coming from Eastern Orthodoxy into the RCC–they stand during the whole liturgy. He must have had quite a conversion story and reason for taking this step to come in to the Catholic Church. It was probably painful for him to be separated from family and friends by the differences. But I never really knew his (certainly fascinating) story or listened to him then. God reminded me in Mass today how, at the time of my conversion, I was a young philosophy major who had learned a lot and thought I knew a lot. I was (embarrassingly) very impressed with myself. I am sure I annoyed the other people in my RCIA group. God showed me this tonight, I believe, to point out to me that I was far from perfect back then. But he still welcomed me into his arms and brought me home. He began a good work in me, and he is still bringing it to completion. I am nowhere near perfect now, but I have come a long way since then–Thanks be to God! So I know from personal experience that real change can happen. Since change comes in God’s timing, and God is patient and merciful, I need to also be patient and merciful with my husband. God loved me in my sinfulness and imperfection just as he loves me now. If I only love my husband when he is acceptable and perfect, then I am not loving him at all.
In marriage, and maybe life in general, we have to be like Mary and cooperate with God, trusting that he will bring about the end he wills (which is the best possible ending). Let us be patient with ourselves for our own shortcomings and also with the others we share life with–none of us are completed yet. Let us submit to the Potter’s hands and let him shape us into the masterpieces he wills us to be–masterpieces that look a lot like Jesus, who while we were yet sinners gave his life for us (Romans 5:8).
Mary, Queen of Heaven, pray for us to love more like Jesus.
Today, let us recite a “Hail Mary” in honor of Jesus’s and our mother.