Sir 3:2-6, 12-14 Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5 Col 3:12-21 or 3:12-17 Mt 2:13-15, 19-23
As You Wish
The story “The Princess Bride” is about a farm boy – Wesley and Buttercup (the most beautiful woman in the world). Wesley loves Buttercup deeply, and whenever she asks him to perform some chore, he always replied to her – “As you Wish”. After some time Buttercup realized that whenever Wesley said “As you Wish” – He was really saying – “I Love You”. When she realized this, she realized that she loved Wesley too. Unfortunately, Wesley could not afford to marry her, so he set out for the New World to seek his fortune, promising to return no matter what.
Unfortunately his ship is captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts (who never takes prisoners) and after news of his death reached her, the evil Prince Humperdink (who only wants to marry her so that he can use her to further his evil plans wooed Buttercup to marriage.
When the evil prince has Buttercup is kidnapped and taken away as hostage Wesley returns to free the Princess from both the kidnappers and the evil prince.
Love is Fertile when commitment exists
It seems that all of the forces of the world are conspiring to prevent Wesley and Buttercup from becoming married. Marriage is the foundation on which families are built. Like Wesley and Buttercup we too battle against sin and the world to preserve the beauty of our relationship with one another.
Marriage requires a lifelong commitment to love one another no matter what. This commitment is the fertile soil in which our love for one another grows. This commitment means that I understand that while I may not like my spouse every day of our life together, I will always choose to love her. Saying “I Do” at the altar is really saying “I will” every day of my life.
Two perspectives on Love – Selfish and Selfless
There are two different perspectives on relationship – The Selfish perspective which asks the question “What can I get out of you?” and the Selfless perspective which asks the questions “What is the best thing that I can give to you?”
If we approach the commitment to marriage from the selfish perspective, then commitment is the worse thing we can have because it ties us down to a relationship that might be the best thing for me now, but won’t be tomorrow, or next year. This approach is ultimately life-taking because our relationship ends up dead, drained of all life.
If we approach marriage from the selfless perspective, then our marriage commitment becomes a great blessing, and a defense of my spouse and my self. With commitment I become free to relate with my spouse as who I truly am. I am not worried at the back of my mind that if I say this or do that, then I will end our relationship. At the same time, with commitment I am able to say things to my spouse that they need to hear, but that they struggle to hear.
What obstacles to True Love have I put into my Marriage?
On this Feast of the Holy Family the Church invites us to examine our commitment to our own marriage – to ask the question “What obstacles to “True Love” have I put before my marriage?” Do not answer these questions for your spouse, but rather answer them for yourself.
What does “True Love” look like – Sacrificial Love
Marriage requires sacrifice. Sacrifice means a surrendering of the will for the good of the relationship. The sacrifice of the cross began with the surrender of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemene. This means that we are called to be living out our married lives in a way that we sacrifice for our spouses as an expression of “True Love”.
The Mutual Sacrifice of Wesley and Buttercup
In the Princess Bride, Wesley risked his life for Buttercup, he rescues her from her kidnappers. At the same time Buttercup sacrificed for Wesley, when she agreed to go through with the marriage to the evil prince in order to save his life.
Sacrifice your Obstacles
As Christians in marriage, we are called to sacrifice for our spouses. When we choose to sacrifice, we are setting aside our own desires when they conflict with the needs of our spouse. This is one of the ways that we as spouses mirror the love of Christ – We sacrifice for the other. Think back to the obstacles that you have placed in your marriage. [PAUSE] These are the things that we are called on to sacrifice – things that are draining your marriage of life.
Ask God for help – He is backing you up!
When we have the grace of Marriage, we take God as our witness, as the guarantor of our promise to love one another fully, completely, in sickness and in health until death do us part. We need to be reminded of His presence in our relationship in difficult times and to ask for the grace to work through our troubles so that our relationship becomes fruitful, and to give thanks to him for the good times that we are able to share with one another.
When you are struggling – it is time to sacrifice in secret.
Another tool that God has given us to breath life into our marriage is that of sacrificial love. Especially when we are in difficult times God invites us to sacrifice for our spouses, quietly and in private – asking God to strengthen them and help us through whatever difficulty we are experiencing.
Sacrificial Love brings New Life
The beauty about sacrificial love is that it brings about new life. In the example of Christ, his sacrifice on the Cross allowed Him destroy death and bring us into the heavenly kingdom.
True Love mirrors the love of God
“True Love” is not selfish – It demands to be shared. In this way the Love between the Husband and Wife mirrors the Love of God, whose love goes beyond Himself, and leads to the creation of new life, and welcomes that new life into the relationship. This is why in Christian Marriage, we have a responsibility to be open to life, so that we can share the our love with our children.
How our Culture views Children – The eyes of Selfish Love
Children are another area where our cultures selfish view of love conflicts with the Christian’s selfless love view of Children.
When we view Children through the eyes of selfish love we see them as a burden, something that is necessary to bring us into adult-hood. You can read articles in USA Today, or on the internet that describe the price tag that comes with each child that you have. In one recent article, this was estimated to be between $134,000 to $270,000.
This point was brought home clearly to me a few weeks ago when I got into the elevator with another guy, and the subject got onto kids. He said that he was lucky in that he only had to deal with one kid. When I told him that I had five he said he was sorry for me – what a pain. I was shocked.
Children are a blessing from God – they cause us to grow in holiness!
When we view children through the eyes of selfless love then we see them as a “Blessing, the fruit of the womb”. That God has created with us children to enter into our relationship of marriage, to share in the Joy of our married Love. This is what marriage and family is for – to experience the joy of a loving relationship and to have companionship to help us through the hard times of life.
St. Paul’s advice to families
In today’s readings St. Paul gives teaches us how to fill our families with selfless love. He teaches us to treat each other with heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, To bear with each other and forgive one another as Christ forgives us. A family founded on selfless love will live its life framed by love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control our hearts.
Can be useful as an examination of Conscience
This advice on family relationship is an excellent source of reflection when we go to confession. Think about your family relationships in the light of this reading and ask conscience how you are living out the love that God called you to live in your family.
True Love always wins out!
Even though Buttercup agrees to marry the evil prince Humperdink to save Wesley’s life, the evil prince tries to kill Wesley anyway. However, “True Love” wins out when Wesley escapes death and returns to rescue Buttercup and they ride off to live happily ever after.
Like Wesley and Buttercup we need to confront the obstacles to True Love in our relationships by adopting the attitude of selfless love – sacrificial love. [PAUSE] The truth about relationships is that even if only one person in a relationship changes, then the whole relationship is transformed. [PAUSE]
The witness of Christ is that “True Love” always wins out – which is why we as Christians sacramentally invite God into our relationships. Through marriage we give him permission to transform our families into Holy Families so that His love can be reflected into the world. This Christmas allow Christ to give you His gift of True Love by sacrificing one of those obstacles to relationship for the sake of your family.