Saturday, September 5, 2020

Holy Matrimony of Frank Vincent Casale and Pamela Sue Everhart


Mark 10:1-9; Ephesians 5: 1-2, 22-33; Genesis 2:7, 18-24


In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Our God is a King who serves. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, God as man, “came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Our First Parents were created in His image, in the image of our Servant King, to serve creation, and to serve each other. God gave them authority, authority to serve, an authority that came from outside of them, an authority that vested them and clothed them. It wasn’t power taken, but it was authority given. They were given authority to serve creation and to serve each other, to love, to care for, and to protect each other. In this way, they were no longer two, but they were one – one flesh, united in servant kingship, united in faith, and united in love. Frank and Pam, that is the sort of union you enter into this day. Each of you will pledge yourself the servant of the other and you will be crowned with the other’s authority to serve them – a servant king and a servant queen, a servant husband and a servant wife, a reflection of our First Parent’s union in Eden and a reflection of God’s Servant Kingship of us all, in whose image we are created.

In his First Epistle to the Corinthians St. Paul wrote, “the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” St. Paul is speaking of the authority each of you today gives to the other – an authority to serve each other, to care for and to love each other in all the ways human beings need to be served, cared for, and loved. St. Paul develops this teaching further in his Epistle to the Ephesians where he describes what this service, care, and love look like in action within marriage: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church, His body, and is Himself its Savior.” “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for Her, the He might sanctify Her, having cleansed Her by the washing of water with the Word…. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.” Sadly, these words are scandalous and offensive to many today, even to those who call themselves Christians. This is because of our sin which has taken authority given and turned it into power taken so that our marriages are wounded and destroyed by selfishness, lust, greed, resentment, and hate. Because of this, let me take a moment to explain St. Paul’s meaning.

Submit – to many women today, and to not a few men, that word is perhaps the most scandalous and offensive in all the Scriptures. However, that is because of ignorance and sin, for the word submit doesn’t mean what people typically think it means. Today, when people hear the word submit they think of domination, tyranny, slavery, and abuse. They conjure up images of Ralph Kramden or Stanley Kawalski, or worse. The Greek word that gets translated as submit, however, implies nothing of the sort. In fact, it is a military word associated with military rank and hierarchy. The word has absolutely nothing to do with equality or inequality – whether one was a legionnaire or a centurion in terms of rank, they were equally men having the same rights. Moreover, the word submit is passive; it literally means “to put oneself under” authority. If a woman is forced, then she cannot submit. A wife is called to submit to her husband, that is, to willingly put herself under his authority, which is further illuminated by the words, “as to the Lord.” How is a wife to put herself under the authority of her husband? The same way she willingly puts herself under the authority of her Lord Jesus Christ. And, why would a wife, or anyone for that matter, willingly put herself under the authority of Jesus? Because Jesus loves you and cares for you and sacrificed everything He had and was and is for you, that’s why. Jesus only ever wants what’s good and best for you. So should a husband love his wife as Christ loves His Bride the Church, and so should a wife willingly submit to her husband as to the Lord.

You see, submission – to willingly place yourself under someone else’s authority – requires trust in that person. But, why should you trust them? Let’s face it, today it’s difficult to trust anyone. You trust someone because they have proven themselves trustworthy; that is to say, you know something about them, they have a track record. They don’t have to be perfect, and God knows they’re not going to be, but they have to mean well towards you, they have to care for you, they love you in a way that very few, if any, others care for and love you. Because of that, you trust them. You trust them because of who they are, what they are, who and what they have demonstrated themselves to be. You trust that they have your back and will catch you when you fall. Again, they’re not going to do this perfectly, and neither are you. The Lord is the only one who is perfect, who will never ever fail you, who can be trusted in with unfailing trust, not because of who you are, but because of who He is. Nevertheless, your husband, O wife, and your wife, O husband, has promised to care for you and to love you, and if you give them authority over you as you promise to this day, then you owe them your trust, your fear (which is reverence), and your love as to the Lord whom they are a reflection of, even if dimmed and obscured by sin. In this way you are imitators of God, sacrificing yourself for the sake of the other, becoming one flesh and a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

It is the LORD who has brought you together – in His way, and in His time. Do not misunderstand, I do not mean that your “soulmate” was out there, and that you just had to find her or him. No, that is the way the world and the flesh think: It might as well be chance that you found each other. And, if you married before and are widowed or divorced, does that mean you just hadn’t found your soulmate? Devilish nonsense! Your soulmate, if we are to use that language, is the one to whom you make this promise and keep it by the grace of God. It is what you are doing right now that makes you Frank, and you Pam, soulmates. The LORD has indeed brought you together, just as He presented Eve to Adam, but what makes you soulmates is not the bringing or the finding, but it is the vows that you make before the LORD this day and your life together of keeping them and of absolving each other when you fail to keep them. The only way that you can do this is with the help and blessing of the Lord. You have asked the Lord to bless your union, your marriage, and He will bless it, He will bless you, and you will be fruitful and multiply His love. For, it is with His love that you love each other, and it His love that flows through you making you fruitful with His love in service of each other and others to the glory of His Name.

Frank and Pam, as we your friends and family together behold you this day, just moments away from giving yourselves to each other in Holy Marriage, we are blessed to behold in you an image, an icon of our First Parents in the Garden of Eden. We are blessed to behold in you an icon of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Bride the Church. And we are blessed to behold in you an icon of our Holy Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For, that is what you are becoming, a new image, a new icon of selfless, sacrificial love in the one-flesh union of holy marriage that our Triune God has created and instituted and even now calls you to. God will place crowns upon your heads; they will be crowns of dominion, crowns of love, and crowns of martyrdom, and yet they will not be multiple crowns, for they are all but one crown, the Martyr’s Crown, the crown of Jesus Christ our Servant King, and they will make you to be an icon of God’s holy love in the one-flesh union of Holy Marriage, the sweetest martyrdom.

God is love. And God has revealed His love in creation, in redemption, and in sanctification. And, your Holy Marriage is to be a reflection of His love and a participation in His love in creation, in redemption, and in sanctification. For, Frank, today you will be crowned a king in a new family. You will be a king like your King Jesus, a Servant King, a Martyr King, as you sacrifice yourself for the sake of Pam, your wife, your body, bone of your bones and flesh of your flesh. Your only desire every day of your life will be for her salvation that she may be presented to the Lord just as He has made her to be in His holy, innocent, shed blood, in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. You are to be the steward and husband of her body and soul and you are be her king and pastor and love and serve her as the queen of your kingdom and as the little church that is your home just as Christ loved His Bride the Church and gave Himself up for Her.

And Pam, today you will be crowned a queen in a new family. You will be a queen like unto the Holy Church of which Jesus Christ is the Head. You are to stand by your husband as his helpmate, equal to him in all things, yet you are to willingly submit to him as your head just as the Church submits to Christ Her Head. By submitting to your husband you show him love, honor, and trust as you likewise do to the Lord. And, as Frank will guard and protect the salvation of your body and soul, so do you have stewardship of the salvation of his body and soul.

Frank, Pam, today you will be crowned with the Martyr’s Crown, a crown of servanthood, for today you will die in the sweetest of martyrdoms. Each of you will die to yourself, for the sake of the other, and you two will become one flesh. The words of St. Paul on marital equality are clear: “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” For a husband and a wife belong to each other as martyrs, they belong to God as royalty, and they are called to treat each other accordingly. For, that is what it means to love, to die to yourself. This is why, and this is how, Holy Marriage is an icon of God, because Holy Marriage is an opportunity for you to show selfless, sacrificial, life-bestowing love to one another, and Holy Marriage is an opportunity for you to receive such selfless, sacrificial, life-bestowing love yourself.

Frank, Pam, always remember that your Holy Marriage, instituted and blessed by our Holy Triune God, is an icon of God’s own Divine Family. As you sacrifice yourselves one for the other, two becoming one flesh, remember always the third partner in your marriage – your Lord Jesus Christ. It was God who brought Adam and Eve together because He desired for them to know the love and fulfillment of His own Divine Family. He is the love that binds you and makes you one flesh; and He has promised to be with you always. Call upon Him daily for your needs. Thank Him daily for your blessings. Make Him the Lord of your hearts and of your Holy Marriage – and He will bless you and your Holy Marriage. You will be fruitful. And your one flesh union will be “very good.”

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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