Happiness in Your Happiness

[Homily: Wedding of Sonny and Jackie Fuentes, Davao, St. Francis of Assisi Church, 10 March 2012]

This is a happy day. We have come together in happy anticipation. But our happiness surges witnessing the happiness of our matrimonial couple, Jackie and Sonny. Notice the beauty in her happiness; witness the happiness in his smile! Their happiness swells in our presence, admiring them, loving them, wishing them well. Their happiness is all the more intensified knowing that this day, this hour, in both of their lives, deep longings come finally to fulfillment, dreams, in both of their lives, come finally true.

Once, while Jackie was still a young student in the Ateneo de Davao, on a rainy afternoon, she sat on a bench with a friend soaking in the rain. She wondered whether in her life there would ever be “a guy best friend” who would be willing to go out of his way, drop whatever he was doing, to respond to her in any of her needs. She wondered whether “her man” would ever enter her life. Her wonder was not answered that afternoon. But look at her today: it is answered in her smile, answered in her joy, answered in her confidence that that person has come, and sits now beside her.

Once too, Sonny also wondered whether his special someone would ever come into his life. There were so many relationships in his life, and with Jackie, a number of preliminary attempts at dates, which somehow fell through. Finally, after returning from the other side of the world, in the summer of 2009, their first real date took place. They dined at the Café Andesa. They topped off the meal with a couple of beers at Matina Town Square. As Sonny relates it, that memorable, magical night, “we finally hit it off! I was with this cool and beautiful and responsible lady [in Jackie’s case, he could not just use the word, “girl”!]” That night, Sonny said, “I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life.”

Imagine, after one date, he knew that he wanted her! Unfortunately, Jackie gave no sign that she felt the same way. At least not immediately. So, Sonny, convinced that he had found the lady of his dreams, proceeded to try to convince her that he was the man of her dreams. He did so with gallantry and chivalry, courting her aggressively and persistently, using an arsenal of pizza, coke, pancit, candies, pastries, and flowers to win her favor, not stopping short of “bribing” Jackie’s office mates with similar treats to insure that he had their favor in winning her. Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months.

After an eternity of hoping, gifts turned into gratitude, gratitude turned into friendship, and friendship turned into love. Jackie took her time getting to know him, but in the end, she did. She realized she would never really ever know enough about this man, who pressed her to accept him to be the man of her dreams. So she prayed, she discerned, she sought the silence of the Monastery of the Transfiguration for prayer.

Finally, on Dec 10, 2009, she made a decision. This woman who once as a school girl sat on a bench soaking in the rain wondering whether there would ever be “a guy best friend” who would be willing to go out of his way, drop whatever he was doing, to respond to her in any of her needs, decided to call Sonny. She needed to talk to him. When she did, Sonny was occupied. He was in mall with a friend about to see a movie. She asked if she could talk with him. She needed to talk to him.

You know, I don’t know what the movie was that Sonny was about to see, or who the friend was with whom he was about to see the movie, but Sonny cancelled his movie and took leave of his friend. His beloved was calling. And for her, he was willing to drop anything he was doing to respond to her in any of her needs. She needed to talk to him. She needed to know: was he the one? They did talk that night. Over a shared dinner. I think you know, as well as I, that night they looked at life with hearts conjoined, and she did find out he was her special “guy best friend.” And the evidence of the truth she found is palpable this afternoon in the happiness you and I witness.

Why does Sonny want to marry her? Simply, he says, “I love her. She’s the first person I want to talk to when I wake up, and it’s her voice I want to hear say, ‘Good night!’ before I sleep at night. I can feel that she truly loves me, that she has only the best intentions for me and my best interests in mind. We are partners; journeying through life seems easy with her around; I want to face life’s challenges with her beside me.”

For Jackie, Sonny is my “guy best friend, my confidante, my kakampi, and my partner in life.”

And so, this afternoon, we celebrate the happiness of love. So many seek it, and don’t find it. Hope for it, and never quite make it. This afternoon, we rejoice in two who have. Our happiness is in your happiness, Sonny and Jackie!

We rejoice all the more because they take their love today out of the purely private sphere and raise it to the level of a holy sacrament, a public statement, a sacred sign. They say: in their love can be seen the love of the Lord for his Church, and the love of the Church for its Lord. One learns of God’s love and of how we love the Lord in grateful response not just from dusty books in scholars’ bookshelves, not just from memorized teachings of the catechism, nor even just from the testimonies of parents, nuns, priests or wizened sages. One learns of God’s love for us from the sacrament of God’s love for us, His Church, in matrimony, from the way that Sonny loves Jackie; one learns how the Church loves the Lord from the sacrament of the Church’s love for God in matrimony, from the way Jackie loves her Sonny. God’s love and our response to his love are “incarnate,” “in the flesh,” in Sonny’s and Jackie’s loving. In the warmth of their every kiss and embrace, in the intensity and ecstasy of their every consummation of love, it is God manifesting the depth and intensity of his love for us, and our manifesting the ardor and joy of our loving him. For sharing their intimate love with us in this manner, as a manifestation of irreversible humanity in God’s loving, or as a manifestation of awesome divinity in human loving, we are profoundly enriched in our relationship to God, and grateful.

We are happy for you, Sonny and Jackie. In sharing your happiness, we pledge to you our friendship and support throughout your married life. We will pray for you, we will support you, we will continue to love you. Meanwhile, continue to be happy; continue to bless us with your love, continue to call forth life in your loving!

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About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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