I’m in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, today for a family wedding. My cousin Christine Gaddis is marrying Kevin Mahoney in Christ Our Light Church at 2 PM. Here’s my homily.
Christine and Kevin, thanks for giving us a love story today. We need love stories today. There’s so much violence in life, so much political and economic uncertainty. We need love stories.
You chose your first reading from a beautiful love story, the Book of Ruth:.
But Ruth said, “Do not press me to go back and abandon you!
Wherever you go I will go,
wherever you lodge I will lodge.
Your people shall be my people
and your God, my God.
Where you die I will die,
and there be buried.
May the LORD do thus to me, and more, if even death separates me from you!” (Ruth 1, 1-17)
In the present arrangement of our bible, the Book of Ruth is squeezed in between the Book of Judges and the Book of Kings, two books describing difficult times in Jewish history. The Book of Judges describes a period when everyone’s looking out for themselves, everyone’s on their own. The Book of Kings describes a time when kings were fighting for control over people and politics ruled the day.
I imagine the original compilers of our Bible saying to one another “We need a love story to break up the concentration of me, me, me. We need a love story that says life’s not about controlling others. So they put a love story, the Book of Ruth, where it is.
That may be it.
However it is, we can’t help being moved by the language of love, the forever language, the daring language, the godlike language that we hear today.
And here you are two lawyers, who know the cautious language of law and deal so much with the careful steps we need for an orderly society– here you are saying to one another, “I take you for better or worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.
The language of Ruth, the language of love, the language of God.
Love is the language of God. We’re made in the image of God. Whether we know it or not, we aspire to be like God. And you recognize that as you come to make your vows to one another here, where the signs of God are so strong, where God who inspires you to make this commitment of love is present.
We ask God’s blessing for you.
You come too with your family and friends. We’re here to share your happiness, we promise you our support and our prayers, and we thank you for giving us a love story today.