Pope Francis offered Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on September 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and presided over the marriages of 20 couples from his diocese.
It is unusual for a Roman Pontiff to preside at a wedding. Pope Francis added yet another unusual element by including couples who had been living together before marriage, as well as single mother and a divorced man (who had received an annulment).
The Pope recalled that in their journey through the desert, the people of Israel “became impatient on the way” (Num. 21:4). “They are tired, water supplies are low and all they have for food is manna, which, although plentiful and sent by God, seems far too meagee in a time of crisis,” he preached. “And so they complain and protest against God and against Moses … They are tempted to turn back and abandon the journey.”
Pope Francis continued:
Here our thoughts turn to married couples who “become impatient on the way,” the way of conjugal and family life. The hardship of the journey causes them to experience interior weariness; they lose the flavor of matrimony and they cease to draw water from the well of the Sacrament. Daily life becomes burdensome, and often, even “nauseating.”
During such moments of disorientation – the Bible says – poisonous serpents come and bite the people, and many die. This causes the people to repent and to turn to Moses for forgiveness, asking him to beseech the Lord so that he will cast out the snakes. Moses prays to the Lord, and the Lord offers a remedy: a bronze serpent set on a pole; whoever looks at it will be saved from the deadly poison of the vipers.
What is the meaning of this symbol? God does not destroy the serpents, but rather offers an “antidote”: by means of the bronze serpent fashioned by Moses, God transmits his healing strength, namely his mercy, which is more potent than the Tempter’s poison … The cure which God offers the people applies also, in a particular way, to spouses who “have become impatient on the way” and who succumb to the dangerous temptation of discouragement, infidelity, weakness, abandonment. To them too, God the Father gives his Son Jesus, not to condemn them, but to save them: if they entrust themselves to him, he will bring them healing by the merciful love which pours forth from the Cross, with the strength of his grace that renews and sets married couples and families once again on the right path.
Pope Francis also emphasized the complementarity of the sexes within marriage.
“This is what marriage is all about: man and woman walking together, wherein the husband helps his wife to become ever more a woman, and wherein the woman has the task of helping her husband to become ever more a man,” he said. “This is the task that you both share. ‘I love you, and for this love I help you to become ever more a woman’; ‘I love you, and for this love I help you to become ever more a man.’”
“Here we see the reciprocity of differences,” he continued. “The path is not always a smooth one, free of disagreements, otherwise it would not be human. It is a demanding journey, at times difficult, and at times turbulent, but such is life!”
With thanks to http://www.catholicculture.org/