Toward the end of the long section in the Rite of Penance (RP 101-201) there is a reading which shares most of the verses with two suggested for weddings. It is from Jesus’ farewell supper with his disciples. What does a reading appropriate for a wedding have to do with the sacrament of Penance?
Quite a lot, actually. The core message is not so much keeping commandments, but having a deeper inspiration behind one’s commitment and obedience. Jesus reassures his disciples of God’s love, and his personal regard for and commitment to them:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
The quality of joy is mentioned. And yes, wholly appropriate for this sacrament and the experience of reconciliation. It works for the context of marriage, too.
“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
How do we lay down our lives for one another? The most glamorous was is the route of the hero–to die for someone. More difficult for sure is to maintain a sense of selflessness over years–the course of a marriage, or a parent-child relationship.
The simplest (but likely not the easiest) way within the context of a lifelong relationship is to apologize and admit fault. If we can tackle that hurdle, we can feel assured and affirmed to be numbered among the friends of God.