Nurturing Vows

Homily for Saturday, September 30, 2017
Celebration of Marriage
Juan Angel Castañeda-Merced and Paul Steven Henry

California_Pinot_noirIn the 2004 movie Sideways, Mile and Maya (played by Paul Giamatti and Virginia Madsen are sharing a quiet moment and a glass of Pinot Noir.  Maya asks Miles:

So why are you so into Pinots?  They’re like a thing with you.

Miles reflects for a moment and then responds:

It’s a hard grape to grow, as you know. It’s thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early.  It’s not a survivor like Cabernet that can grow anywhere and thrive even when it’s neglected.  Pinot needs constant care and attention, you know?  And in fact it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world.  And, and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression.

rings on pageWe like to think of vows as something strong – vows are permanent; they are to last a lifetime.  But vows are fragile.  Like Pinot Noir, vows can be “think-skinned, temperamental.”  They need “constant care and attention,” and “only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it.”

Those who are married, while you may not be Pinot drinkers, if you’ve been married for any length of time, you know what I’m talking about.  You know from experience how fragile vows can be, how “thin-skinned and temperamental” they are.  You know that vows are not like Cabernet which “can grow anywhere and thrive even when neglected.”  You know how much care and attention marriage they need.

Juan and Paul, I hope that, in the coming months and years, you will give your vows the care and attention they need.  I hope you will be “patient and nurturing growers” of your marriage.  I hope that you will be men who take the time to understand the other, to listen, to love, to forgive, to cherish.  For as you persevere in these vows, patiently caring and nurturing, only then might you coax each other, as individuals and yourselves as a couple, into your “fullest expression,” the men God created you to be.


Photograph: Craig Orsini

To aid Juan and Paul in their endeavor, and to aid all here who have made vows, God has given us a sacrament of grapes.  Here in the Eucharist, wine is for us the blood of Christ, which he lovingly gives us, and which for centuries has nurtured the Church, patiently coaxing her into fuller expression.  I hope that the Eucharist today—and a faithful reception of the Eucharist in the years to come—will continue to sustain and nurture you, Juan and Paul, and will sustain and nurture all who have made vows.  Which are not strong, but fragile.  “Thin-skinned, temperamental,” “needing constant care and attention.”  For God loves us, and in these vows and in this sacrament—if we let him—God can deepen our sense of his love for us, and can use us to make his love known to each other.


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