Chapter 17 of John’s gospel contains a Last Supper prayer by Jesus to his Father. As a farewell address, one might question its place in the wedding Lectionary. Sure enough, it is not often chosen. I cannot think of a single instance in many dozens of weddings through the years.
Like many biblical readings, what is said about other people in other relationships may be applied to the union of woman and man in matrimony. Let’s read:
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
“I pray not only for my disciples,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me,
and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me.
I wish that where I am they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory that you gave me,
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,
but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
I made known to them your name and I will make it known,
that the love with which you loved me
may be in them and I in them.”
Very Johannine. Love finds its source in God. Human love finds inspiration from God and God’s self-definition as Love. Lovers participate in the very essence of God as they devote themselves to mutual caring and affection.
This reading is very dense with worthy ideas. Jesus prays for unity. Then he prays that his followers be brought to perfection. He then picks up on the notion of their closeness to him, their seeing the Truth, and experiencing it.
Why wouldn’t a couple choose this reading? I can’t think of a good reason. It speaks of love, explicitly. It connects the love and union of Father and Son and uses this to allude to the union and love of husband and wife. It underscores God’s love and loyalty for those who are faithful. All good reasons, I’d say. Wouldn’t you?