The beginnings and conclusions of Saint Paul’s letters include texts that are accessible, all-purpose, and naturally popular in content. It also “helps” when the Lectionary framers cherry-pick a section for good ideas and present it as a continuous whole. Read the last of the three selections from Paul’s letter to the Romans and see:
Brothers and sisters:
We ought to put up with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves;
let each of us please our neighbor for the good,
for building up.
For Christ did not please himself.
My quibble with this “cherry-pick” is this hanging thought at verse 3a.
May the God of endurance and encouragement
grant you to think in harmony with one another,
in keeping with Christ Jesus,
that with one accord you may with one voice
glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you,
for the glory of God.
This passage is an addition to the latest Lectionary for Marriage and may not be in older editions of your parish’s preparation booklets. Lectionary revisionists obviously took a general/generic passage of encouragement and assumed a homilist or engaged couple could or would make the connection of applying these virtues of living in community to living in the married state.
What is distinctive about this passage? When a couple “thinks in harmony,” it does mean think in unison, thinking the same things, or approaching life in continuity.
Musically speaking, harmony is a principle in which two (or more) parts act separately, and sometimes seemingly independently, but together they create a whole that is more than the sum of parts. Individual musical lines remain, but a collective expression of sound is added that does not appear when each part plays alone.
Does the engaged couple see themselves as retaining a degree of independence, of creativity, or bringing unique gifts? Do they see their relationship as one in which at different times, one member or the other might come to the fore with leadership or guidance or comfort or some other quality? Do they understand they are stronger together even if they don’t do the same thing, wear matching clothes, or express their love in total congruent behavior and preferences? If so, this is a good reading if you’re picking up on that quality of strong relationships.
Or you may just be atttracted to this prayer of Romans 15:13:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
And that’s okay too.