Pope Francis presided over the wedding of 20 couples this morning, exhorting them to faithfulness despite the difficulties they will experience.
In his homily, Francis compared married couples to the Israelites wandering for years in the desert. They, too, said Francis, run the risk of becoming “impatient on the way of conjugal and family life.” Hardships along the journey, the Pope continued, can cause them “to experience interior weariness; they lose the flavor of matrimony and they cease to draw water from the well of the Sacrament. Daily life becomes burdensome, even nauseating.”
For those “who succumb to the dangerous temptation of discouragement, infidelity, weakness, abandonment,” the Pope suggested, God offers a cure. To all of these, he went on, “God the Father gives his Son Jesus, not to condemn them, but to save them.” If they entrust themselves to him, “he will bring them healing by the merciful love which pours forth from the Cross, with the strength of his grace that renews and sets married couples and families once again on the right path.”
Some recent news reports had focused on the composition of the twenty couples chosen to be married by the Pope. Among the couples, all from the diocese of Rome, were those who had been cohabitating, a man whose first marriage had been annulled by the church, and a woman with a daughter from an earlier relationship. The couples are “a representative sample,” said Father Edward McNamara, professor of sacramental theology at Rome’s Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, which “mirrors the situation of any parish in Rome.”
When things get tough in a marriage, the Pope said, the “love of Christ can restore to spouses the joy of journeying together.” “This is what marriage is all about,” the pontiff continued, “man and woman walking together, wherein the husband helps his wife to become ever more a woman, and wherein the woman has the task of helping her husband to become ever more a man.”
Marriage is “a demanding journey,” the Pope repeated, insisting on the reality that the couples will be facing. “Marriage is a symbol of life, real life: it is not ‘fiction’!”