Holy Family

Holy Family

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Feast of Saint Fillan

Good morning. “We all need to get away. There's one place that's on your way, McDonald's is your break today…” These words from the McDonald’s mid-nineties advertising program came to mind as I read from Mark’s Gospel of Jesus feeling the need to get a break from the admiring crowds. He is feeling overwhelmed by the throngs of people pressing in upon Him attempting to touch Him, as if He were a Teen Idol (Mk 3:7-12). People throughout Galilee and Judea have heard of His miracles. They come in from everywhere; they surround him and chase after him like paparazzi. “He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch Him.” Yet, amazingly the charm of this new-found hero of the Israelites will soon fade. As we read further in the story these same people will look upon Him differently. They will soon decide that maybe He wasn’t the one; maybe they had made a mistake in thinking He was their Messiah.

So often we see a similar type of story of disenchantment lived out with married couples. In the initial years all is well, the superficial attractions and youthfulness keep things vibrant and alive, but as the years go by interest and commitments fade. Some grow fearful for the loss of their youth. It would be my hope that every couple’s desire would be to grow old together. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that places more value on youth and beauty than maturity and wisdom. Like our youthfulness things change, marriages also change, they go through different stages.

It is most unfortunate that half of all couples never have the opportunity to live out their lives knowing the joy and goodness of the final stage of this journey we call marriage. For those couples who have the fortune of reaching this final stage there is an appreciation of a shared history together that hasn’t always been easy,  but there is a sense of pride and shared peace in knowing that the years of dedication and commitment were well worth it. In slight alteration of the words of old Blue Eyes, “We did it our way.” As a couple we are able to look back upon our accomplishments, of family, friends and of building a life together. We have learned to appreciate our differences and we take joy in how we complement one another. Like Jesus in today’s Gospel, and our Irish Saint for today, Saint Fillan, who the people were enthralled with because of their miraculous deeds, in the initial years the glamour and charm of youth seem to be the draw,  but over the years such things matter less and we grow to appreciate the real beauty each other offers and cherish how complex our partners truly are. Our children are grown and we are able once again to focus more on the marriage and upon one another. The joy and goodness we longed for back in the stormier times is now here.

From the beginning,  marriage was meant to be a lifelong covenantal union. True love, that which sustains a lifelong union, does not depend on beauty or youthfulness; it is part of “for better or for worse.” Failing health and lost beauty don’t matter when you’ve chosen to love someone forever. Make a great day!

Today we recall the good life and works of Saint Fillan.

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