Marriage, a glimpse of eternity

GOD'S WORD TODAY - Manuel V. Francisco, S.J. - The Philippine Star

Often, when I am privileged to officiate a wedding, I tell the couple that the sacrament of matrimony is a symbol of eternity.

The more modernized and globalized our world becomes, the more stressful our lives become as we contend with rapid technological developments and cultural shifts, as we deal with the erosion of our customary way of life and changing values and worldviews.

As we survey our world, nothing seems to last. Old neighborhoods are torn down as towering condominiums mushroom so suddenly. Families are torn apart as members seek employment abroad. Relationships — whether with a friend or lover, employer or political ally — all seem so fickle and temporary. Nothing seems to last anymore.

*      *      *

We all yearn for constancy and permanency. We all pine for the eternal that is absolute and changeless. Amidst all that dissolves and decays, the sacrament of matrimony stands out as a shining example of the changeless — in the form of absolute commitment, steadfast, unwavering love. Yes, on our own, our hearts vacillate, our minds dither, and our will is often enslaved and easily swayed. However, aided and transformed by grace, we are capable of eternity. Married couples testify that despite our frailties, by grace we can promise forever, we can witness to absolute commitments.

Eternity is not isolated existence transposed from this worldly life to the next. The mystery of the Trinity reveals to us that eternity is perpetual communion. Our Triune God, the ground of all existence, is a communion of eternal self-giving and mutual receiving, and our ultimate destiny is to participate in this divine communion.

A couple committed to each other, through thick and thin, gives us a glimmer of our ground and destiny — eternal love among Father, Son and Spirit. Committed and faithful marital love, so beautiful and attractive, so fragile yet powerful, offers us a glimpse of Absolute Love for which we all yearn.

*      *      *

Back in 2002, while pursuing my doctorate in Boston, I had the privilege of celebrating the 62nd wedding anniversary of a Filipino couple, together with their family and friends. As I computed the year they wed, I asked, “Wasn’t that the height of World War II? Saan po kayo ikinasal?” Lola Rosita shared that Lolo Juanito and she got married in Malate Church. Then, there were only five of them — the couple, the priest and two witnesses. They pronounced their marriage vows while the Americans bombed Old Manila which was then a blazing inferno and the Japanese soldiers bayonetted civilians.

Lola Rosita further shared that in 2001, as she and Lolo Juanito were flying from Manila to the United Sates, their plane was detoured to Canada, where they had to wait for a few days in the airport before they were allowed to fly, together with the other passengers, to the USA. It was September 9, 2001. Two planes had slammed into the World Trade Towers.

Their family and friends were extremely anxious, not knowing initially about their condition or their whereabouts, worrying for lolo and lola, both in their eighties, trapped in an airport with no relative or friend to attend to their needs.

Through 62 years of security and uncertainties, Lolo Juanito and Lola Rosita have remained committed to each other’s welfare; have remained steadfast in their love for each other.

I have lost contact with them, but their lifelong fidelity to one another has offered me a glimpse of heaven, of eternal communion with God and one another.

Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ is a prolific composer of liturgical music and serves on the faculty of the Loyola School of Theology. For feedback on this column, email tinigloyola@yahoo.com.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with