[Homily: Wedding of Allan and Ché Medina, Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Pasay, Feb 21, 2015.]
With the melodious strains coming from Pachelbel, the coming together in this House of God of the radiant bride, Ché, and smiling groom, Allan, the gestures of respect and love for their parents, the deepest joy of two lovers and their families becoming one today in this nuptial celebration, I think you will agree with me, that if ever there was a wedding “made in heaven,” it is this one. For you, Allan and Ché, this is a heavenly high point in your relationship. Heavenly, also because both of you know: this is just the beginning.
The beginning. Well, it is the beginning after many beginnings. Did it begin at the wedding of Eden and Allan when you first met? Or did it really begin with your dreams? Allan, you dreamed of someone with whom you could share your life goals, someone who could support you in all that you do, and someone whom you could support in all that she does; you dreamed of someone who had great respect and faith in the Lord, someone who could prioritize family over career; you dreamed of a person you could grow old with. Ché, you dreamed of someone who could love you for whom you are, someone who could stand to you knowing everything about you – good and bad. You dreamed of someone who could love your family, and someone whose happiness would be your happiness, and that your happiness would be his. You wanted someone who had a great respect for and love of God. When Pope Francis was here, he said lovers should not forget to dream. Heavenly weddings are born in dreams. And today we know: dreams come true!
All began with your dreams. But all also began when you first met at the blessed wedding of your close friends, Eden and Mike on 10.11.12. That was a heavenly day, wasn’t it? On that day, Allan only had eyes for Ché. In the midst of the post-wedding pictorials, you recall: “…I saw this lovely lady wearing all smiles with her lovely gown draping down her slim body. Her small angelic face lit by her beautiful smile really made an impression immediately. It seemed like there was a bright light behind her… For a moment my jaw just dropped and my eyes were locked onto her beauty. … I could not stop staring at her.” You would tell me later Ché, that you were moved that he said your beauty had stunned him. It is stunning beauty – made for this day in heaven. But when you met Allan, as your recalled, you were not stunned. As you were greeting the newly weds, Eden and Mike, you recall: “a guy approached us, introduced himself as Allan, a friend of Eden, and politely invited us for a cup of coffee.” Your chaperone refused the coffee for you. And that was that. Allan was stunned, and you went home.
But that wasn’t the end. It was only the beginning. Now, Facebook comes to the rescue. And the Internet. Allan uploaded pictures of the wedding. You saw the pictures and pressed “like.” Allan saw the “like” was from the Che Velasquez that had so stunned him the night before. He immediately sent a friend request. You accepted. Suddenly, you were in a relationship. It was not just made in Facebook. It was made in heaven.
You were a stewardess of the United Emirates; he was an upcoming engineer working on projects like our St. Ignatius Spirituality Center in Samal. You found ways to communicate, learn more of each other, discover common likes like favorite desserts, shopping in malls, going to movies, going out for a meal. You bought a Blackberry, Allan, so it would be easier for you to communicate with Ché in Dubai. You were impressed, Ché, that Allan did that. And on those special occasions when you would be in Manila from Dubai, sometimes for just 24 hours, Allan would fly to Manila all the way from Davao, just to be with you – without demanding time away from your family. And Ché do you remember what impressed you most during your first date, when on one of his visits to Manila, reversing your refusal on the evening that you met, you finally accepted an invitation to coffee? It was something that rarely happens. It was your first official date. You recall: “During our first date, we went to a church to hear Mass.” Now how often on this earth does that happen? He said, “we will raise our friendship to the Lord so that we will be blessed.” That Mass did not hinder you from enjoying the cheesecake that Allan had baked in Davao and had hand carried to Manila for you, Ché. Made in heaven!
But there was another beginning.: Christmas of 2012. Ché, you couldn’t work things out so that you could be home for Christmas. It would have been a bleak and lonely Christmas alone in Dubai. So Allan took a hefty chunk out of his savings to be with you, but not without getting permission from your parents on both sides. By this time, you knew, Allan, that the lady who once stunned you with her beauty was now the lady you loved. In Dubai, you were desperate to let her feel your love for her. His love was not lost on you, Ché. You described this so, “I felt the sincerity of his intentions and the pureness of his heart which made me feel he was now a special part of me.” In Dubai then, another heavenly beginning: you said yes to be in a relationship with him.
In one of your conversations, Allan, you told Ché that you wanted to walk down the aisle with the canon by Pachelbel playing in the background. One Sunday after Communion at Church, you raised your intentions of marrying Ché to the Lord. You explained to Him how much you loved Ché and told him you would like to spend the rest of your life with her. You asked him for a sign of his approval. What happened then gave you gave you goose bumps; it amazed you, uplifted you, scared you. It was for you a moment of the Holy. From the church musician, arranged from on high in response to your prayer, suddenly came the melodious strains that we all heard as you walked down the aisle today: the canon of Pachelbel.
That is why, Allan, in the context of another romantic trip last Christmas, you connived with the whole Velasquez family during a family outing in Hong Kong to surprise Ché. When finally you came out of your hiding place, she was so surprised, to see you, she burst into tears. You hugged her; she hugged you; never was an embrace more heavenly! Then, on your knees, you brought out your engagement ring, and – well – her yes was yet a new beginning. Your yes Ché, you knew, was not just for this wedding day. You knew, your dream was coming true. You knew, as you have since written: “the best part isn’t the wedding, it’s the idea of spending our lives together.” Recalling your first date, you stated: “All of this happened because I believe we were blessed from the start: the moment we lifted our relationship to Him.”
From our Sacred Scriptures, your love recalls the intensity of the lovers in the Song of Song, she exclaiming, “The voice of my beloved! Behold he comes, leaping on the mountains, skipping on the hills!” In the warmth and vitality of spring, she says “My beloved spoke and said to me, ‘Rise up, my love, my beautiful one, and come away. For behold, the winter is past. The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. … My dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places of the mountainside, let me see you face. Let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face lovely” (cf Song of Songs 2:8-14)
The rich images of love, in the song of Songs, become sublime in John. We know God loves us. “God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.” (1 Jn 4:16) From the second reading: “if God has loved us so fully, we ought to love one another. (1 Jn 4:11).
Allan and Ché, the imperative God gives you today: “Love one another!” (1 Jn 4:7), Jesus says, …for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, till death. “Love one another, as I have loved you” from all eternity. This is the sacrament of matrimony that you confer on each other today. “As I have loved you,” Jesus says, for all eternity in invincible fidelity, love, to show the world how much God loves you. Love, and show the world how much you love God. Show it in your affection for each other, in your every caress, your every kiss, your every embrace, show it in the intimacy, passion and ecstacy of your loving, each of you being the sacrament of God’s eternal embrace of us requited gratefully in our unending embrace of him. Show it however in your respect for each other not as possessed property, but as cherished persons, as God cherishes us and we him, each never the other’s object of manipulation, each always subjects of free loving. Show it in your acceptance of each other as you are, never fully perfect, always needing perfection, always your shared work in progress, as God works with us unto the fullness of life. Your “made in heaven” wedding is heavenly only to the extent it becomes earthy in you, real, visible, tangible; your made-in-heaven love is heavenly only to the extent that it can be felt in your flesh, Holy Spirit enfleshed, God’s Promise incarnate in you, that yesterday’s dreams become this moment’s realty, and every yesterday’s memories the ever stronger foundation of the earthy wedding that climaxes triumphant forever in heaven. Your made-in-heaven wedding is made for heaven.
When did all this begin? As Ché said, when on your first date you lifted up your loving to heaven. And heaven replied, as Alan knew, with the melodious strains of Pachelbel.
God is its beginning. God is its end. God is bringing heaven onto earth in your loving. Till heaven, Allan and Ché, show the world the fullness of God’s love for us in the fullness of your loving. Show the generosity of the heavenly promise in the fullness of your life together!