THE WEDDING OF ANDREW UJAH AND ROSEMARY AT ST. LOUIS CHURCH, JOS, 17/12/2016. HOMILY BY MOST REV. IGNATIUS A. KAIGAMA, ARCHBISHOP OF JOS AND PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF NIGERIA
It is my most sincere pleasure and privilege to welcome you the parents and family members of Andrew Ujah from Opialu and the family of Rosemary from Orakam, all in Benue State. Some of you their friends, relations and well wishers have come from Yola, Jalingo, Minna, Abuja, Kaduna and other places, to be part of this happy moment, to pray and invoke the Lord that Andrew and Rosemary will live happily and peacefully together as husband and wife in the Catholic tradition all the days of their life. To live in true love means making sacrifices in the spirit of what St. Paul says that love is patient , kind, without envy, not seeking its own interest, overcomes anger, forgives offences, etc (cf. 1 Cor. 13: 4-7). With these dispositions and with God helping, Andrew and Rosemary can nourish their marriage to holiness and great happiness.
It is customary before Church wedding to do what is called “traditional marriage”. This is a celebration that brings the two families together to give their blessings and official approval of a marriage union between their children. There is the presentation and acceptance of such items as goats, palm wine, salt, kola, and even money as a sign of consent by the families.
The Christian Church wedding is a higher step. Remember in Cana (John 2) at the wedding to which Jesus was invited? In every Church wedding the man and the woman willingly submit themselves to Jesus asking him to come into their union. They let Jesus who stands at the door and knocks (cf. Rev. 3:20) into their heart and home because Jesus is a very crucial part of the success of any husband and wife. Jesus is the only licensed one who can dictate, intervene and guide the relationship of a husband and wife.
What is happening right now is called a wedding. Marriage is the actual living together. A wedding is largely cosmetic and external. Marriage begins when the guests are all gone and the couple starts to live out the promises made in the Church on the wedding day; how they cope with daily life, how they pray together (as Tobias and Sara did in the first reading from Tobit 8:4-9), how they resolve their problems, how they earn their daily bread and how they learn to be calm, patient and trusting God when faced with challenges.
Marriage is a mutual expression of trust and confidence. It is an act of self surrender. It is the unconditional giving of yourself to the other not for a contract or limited period but for the rest of your life. Marriage fuses two people into one. Gen 2:24 says the two become one body, one flesh, in a manner that one is not preoccupied with “I, me or myself”. You think in terms of “we, us and our”. Canon 1055 ph. 1 states clearly that the basic aims of marriage are: to establish a partnership between a man and a woman; it is for the good of the man and the woman and the procreation and education of offspring.
Andrew, I believe that your intention is to establish a true, permanent and a happy partnership and to be a loving companion of Rosemary and I hope Rosemary that this is your sincere wish also. You both desire to be true companions in a lasting union and not strange bed fellows, living in a hotel-like environment instead of a home. You don’t treat marriage as you do your mobile telephone service providers such as MTN, AIRTEL or GLO, by migrating at will when you don’t get satisfactory services. It may be lovely or rough or tough, you stick to it repairing and strengthening it.
Some Marriages do not always have the big success we expect because of lack of correct motives: some concentrate on beauty, handsomeness, position, material possessions and expectations of people who do not mind their business. In marriage you must be personally, psychologically and emotionally mature and convinced, not dancing to what people are saying. Why did a girl recently run away half-way during wedding just as she was pronouncing the words of the marriage vows? False motives. Poor preparation. Pressure.
In Mt 1: 20 the Angel told Joseph not be afraid to take Mary as his wife. Likewise, we encourage you Andrew and Rosemary to get into this marriage with faith and confident trust not with trembling and fear. As Ps 127 states, if you fear the Lord and walk in his ways you will eat the fruit of your toil and be favored. The wife will be blessed, the children will be blessed and your entire house will be a model like that of the Holy family of Nazareth. One becomes afraid in going into marriage if only your concerns are materialistic and not spiritual or only to meet people’s expectations; in that case you will be too concerned about the suit, the shoes, the gown, the reception, the photographs, the video, etc. These are what cause confusion and unnecessary anxiety and apprehension and anger even after the wedding.
The Bishops of Jos Ecclesiastical Province prepared a statement on marriage, because we realized that marriage celebrations are getting terribly expensive. The bride prices are high, send-off parties lavish and wasteful, etc. In some cases the woman is expected to bring items such as TV, equip or furnish the rooms, etc. This is not a Catholic tradition. This makes marriage difficult and expensive, hence boys or girls dilly dally and don’t get married early or the alternative is “leather bag” marriage! I advise all intending couples to please take out the commercial, business and pagan aspects from Christian marriage.
Your spiritual preparation is a remedy to prevent any unhealthy pre-marriage anxiety. When your desire is to get married in the Lord, all you want is the Lord to bless your union, bless you with happiness and peace.
Andrew brought his brother Simon Peter to Jesus (cf. Jn 1:42). Andrew, I hope you will bring Jesus to your marriage and those you meet. Your name Rosemary has two parts. You are a rose – a rose looks nice and smells so sweet. Bring that niceness and fragrant smell into your home and like Mary be a loving wife and mother who ponders and prays in her heart.
I visited a man and his wife married for nearly 40 years and I was very impressed. They may have acted-up a little bit, but anyone could tell that there was real love between the man and his wife. I commend husbands who stay at home, not spending their free time out with their friends while expecting their wives to patiently wait their return at late nights. I commend wives who keep their husbands home by giving them good food and quality care, without nagging and making unnecessary demands.
In conclusion, I wish to advise our new couple to avoid the “Yayah Jammeh syndrome”. As President of Gambia he promised that he would hand over to the new man who won the presidential election, but remembering the comfort of power, he soon went back on his promise. If you had intimate friends before now, show them that something has changed in your life today. You have left father and mother, and joined as husband and wife, and the two of you have become one body; let none of those your friends separate what God has joined.” (Cf. Mt. 19:4-6). Be faithful to your marriage promises.
Our prayer and hope is that at God’s own time some day you will be inviting us for a naming ceremony. God be with you all the days of your life.