[Wedding of Louie and Mariel Villanueva
San Antonio de Padua Church, Silang, Cavite
(Gen 2:18-14; Mark 10: 6-9)]
The Genesis account of creation quotes God saying, “It is not good that man be alone.” God speaks these words not lightly, not in superficial justification of a frivolous act. God speaks these words from the core of his interior goodness. It is not good that man be alone. So God in his goodness, creates woman.
In truth, God in his goodness created both man and woman. Both man and women, created in goodness, were created not to be alone. In God’s goodness, it was an imperative in freedom that neither man nor woman be alone.
Man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God. As God was knowing, they were created knowing – aware of themselves, able to learn of their world, able to learn what was important and what was the petty, able to distinguish right from wrong. As God was free, they were created in freedom – acting from within, freely choosing the more valuable from the less valuable, freely choosing the necessary from the arbitrary, freely choosing right from wrong. As God was loving, they were created to love. As God was good in-himself-not-being-content-to-be-alone, God created so that neither he nor we would be alone. He created beyond himself our world – the heavens and the earth, the sun and the moon, the oceans and the planes; he decorated our world with the mountains, the valleys, the rivers, the lakes; he filled his world with trees, and forests and flowers, with elephants and cows, spiders and ants, birds an butterflies. Being not content to be alone, he created man and woman as the pinnacle of his creation. He created them in his image: knowing, loving, free, and not-content-to-be-alone. He created them as his artistic masterpieces knowing he could and would love them, and that in them he would not be alone; knowing they should and could love each other and him. Even when man and woman erred – sinned – he redeemed them in his Son, Jesus Christ, so that they would not be abandoned to unending aloneness, but could all the more love him, and all the more deeply cherish each other in him.
It is in this cosmic mystery of God wanting neither man nor women to be alone, and more profoundly, of himself not being content to be alone, that Louie and Mariel freely come together today in God’s love. Over eight years ago, they met in Manila at a wedding of mutual friends. The very next day, they dated each other. Then, enjoying not being alone, they dated each other daily till Louie had to return to Cebu. The distance between Manila and Cebu did not hurt their new relationship. They planned regular fortnightly trips to keep in touch. And they kept up regular communication through texting and instant messages. Eventually, life’s aloneness was thwarted by love. Mariel says: “I cannot recall the exact time or day when I can say that I fell in love with him. But what I remember most was the way he affected me and inspired me to always be a better person. He constantly reminded me to be a better mother to my two boys, [he gave me] me advice on my career; he taught me how to be a better friend, and he taught me the importance of family. … Our relationship is not a storybook romance worthy of a movie adaptation. It’s not conventional by social standards, but it is a relationship that works. It is a relationship that is solid and based on on what is more important. We have mutual love and respect for one another. And we value our family.”
For Louie, it was during the aloneness of illness that he experienced the depth of their relationship. “We had only been going out for a few months when I got sick and had to be hospitalized. When Mariel found out that I had been admitted, she dropped everything in Manila and flew to Cebu to be with me. It was totally unexpected, and it meant the world to me as I was alone at that time… Her having gone to Cebu was not just a display of affection for me. I mean, having to stay with me in the hospital was not exactly a romantic rendezvous. Going to Cebu to take care of me was no easy feat – aside from having to work, she was also a single mom. What it showed to me was that she not only ‘wanted’ to spend time with me, but more importantly, she wanted to be there for me when I needed her. I thought to myself, ‘if she is this committed at the start of the relationship, what more later on?’ After all this time, the answer to that question [“Is she the one for me?”] is still a resounding YES. Mariel is my loving partner, a caring mother, and my best friend.”
In Mariel’s and Louie’s coming together this day in matrimony, they both understand that they have been brought together and kept together in God’s goodness. Implanted in their creation in God’s goodness is the insight, “It is not good that man or woman be alone.” Their journey of love was fraught with danger and risk, and sometimes even marked by misunderstanding and disagreement. But both thank the Lord for bringing them closer together in his goodness throughout this journey. Today, they take their personal love, its history of light and shadows, and raise all to the level of a sacrament. For that’s what matrimony is, is it not? They tell all of us: Do you want insight into how God loves us in the Church? Look to Louie’s love for Mariel. Do you want to know how we love God in the Church? Look to Mariel’s love for Louie. For Mariel and Louie, marriage is not just a legitimization and contract of intimate love between them; it is rather a commitment to manifest God’s love for us and ours for God with every kiss, with every hug, with every passionate embrace of body and soul in the self-emptying passion of God not-wanting-to-be-alone and not wanting us to be alone. It is the commitment to overcome difficulties and problems in God’s goodness that he does not want to reserve for himself alone, but wants us to benefit from. It is their commitment to live their love in openness to a God who wishing to be part of their lives “prepares a banquet for them in the sight of their foes,” preparing for them surprises of his goodness, providence and benevolence till their “cups overflow.” It is their commitment to enrich us in their loving: to convince us of God’s love for us in their loving; to convince us of our love for God in their loving.
Of course this is not easy. It is something that has to be worked at. It is something that needs discipline. It is indeed a full-blown spirituality that encompasses its own method of communicating with God directly, and communicating God to others effectively. It is love that cannot be kept coldly secret in one’s soul, but needs truthful, warm, bodily manifestation in time and space. It is love that to endure needs to learn of the love of God – of his truth, his integrity, his compassion, his intimate warmth, that in their lives cannot be kept secret. It is however something that is accessible to you, Louie and Mariel, who have already matured in the demands of interpersonal human love, quietly led over the years by the God who loves you. The substance of today’s celebration is your embracing the challenges and disciplines of the sacrament – the spirituality – of matrimony, your undertaking to be a sign of God’s love in our world, a sacrament of our love for God.
Looking at you, at your joy, happiness and radiance this day, we can truly say: “It is not good that man be alone.” To you has been granted a certain depth in loving, a certain peace, a certain maturity. You have fought a good fight… You have run a race. It is good that you are now not alone, and that you do not now leave us alone. The sacrament you become today, in your yes to each other, assures us, we will not be alone, but that you will share of your love with us generously, as God does not want us to be alone, but to be blessed in your love.
We also assure you: we will not leave you alone. We will support you in our love, and care for you in our friendship. In this manner, we hope too to share in the grace of this marriage: that the God who embraces you in his not wanting to be alone, will embrace us as well. That God who touches you in your touching loving, will touch us in your love as well.