Daily Reflection
June 27th, 2001
Maria Teresa Gaston
Center for Service & Justice
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Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Psalms 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9
Matthew 7:15-20

“You can tell a tree by its fruit.” 

Matthew 7:20

The readings today lead me to reflect on my marriage, center stage in my prayer lately as our 20th anniversary nears.  They tell me it's time to examine the vitality of our faithfulness to our covenant before God.  So I go to the shelf in our bedroom and get the smooth stones upon which I penned our vows twenty years ago and to which we have turned every anniversary.  

I see that, like Abram in the first reading, we truly ‘put our faith in the Lord’ when we wrote those.  (No way did we know what we were in for!)  We didn’t split animals in two and walk between them to show our seriousness, believing that we would invoke a similar death if we violated our covenant (Jerome Biblical Commentary, p.23), but we approached this step with all the solemnity our 20-something years permitted.  We prayed together at a retreat house and carefully searched our hearts and minds for the right words to express what we were being called to commit to.  

This is what we wrote and proclaimed back in ’81: 

Before Yahweh, and before all of you from whom I have first experienced love,
I, Maria Teresa, come here freely and wholeheartedly 
To give myself in the covenant of marriage to you, John Thomas,  
To reverence you and care for you all the days of my life.
To accept children generously 
and to grow with you toward the fullness of love,
Freely witnessing to the presence of God in this world.
I, Maria Teresa, choose you, John Thomas, for life, as my spouse.
I promise to be faithful in freeing you to respond to the Spirit deep within you,
For our good and the good of the human family.

John, accept and wear this ring as a sign of the simplicity and wholeness we are called to
And as a sign of my everlasting love for you.

I am humbled by a sense of God’s presence with us over all these years…guarding us, drawing us close in the midst of pain and joy, risk, frustration, groping and wonder.

In today’s Gospel, Matthew is near the end of his presentation of Jesus’ ‘program of the new kingdom.’  Jesus warns us to be on our guard against false prophets.  Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P. (in Biblical Meditations for Ordinary Time p.51) comments that the danger is not that we will stray all at once from our faithfulness and fruitful living, but “little by little, in the face of daily temptations.” 

It is in the sacredness of deeds done out of love in all the nitty-gritty of daily life, parenting and work that we renew our promises.

I pray for time together this summer, in the confusion and confidence of these mid-life days, to cultivate and fertilize our ‘tree of marriage.’  Give us the grace to examine where we have strayed, receive forgiveness and strengthening, celebrate our vitality and discern how we are being called to bear fruit in the next twenty years of this covenant in your love.

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