I’m not a runner. In fact, the closest I ever come to running is, well, walking in snappy new running shoes given to me by real runners. But fortunately, I have a lot of friends who run, so I exercise vicariously through them. Now, when I think of my friends who are serious runners, I see three characteristics that they all have in common: discipline; passion; and insanity. Our readings talk about these three qualities, and I see all of them in Julie and Chris, which gives me great confidence that they will have a long, happy marriage together. Allow me to explain.
All runners, and all of us who watch runners, know that serious running takes discipline. In our second reading, Saint Paul uses an analogy to running to encourage the Corinthians to be disciplined, to train themselves in the pursuit of true love in God. Love requires discipline. “Love as distinct from ‘being in love’ is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced (in Christian marriages) by the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God.” We have to work at love, especially in marriage. “[L]ots of couples forget that when they got married, they committed to run together. It is easy to get so involved in all of the individual activities that we run our own course. Marriage is about sharing, helping, and running together.” Marriage is about disciplined love.
We also have to remember that without God, we couldn't have love, because God is love. In our Gospel passage, Jesus practically begs us to remain in the joy of God’s love by keeping the Father’s commandments. He doesn't make us remain in God’s love; love can’t be forced. That’s why we’re given free will - so we can freely choose love. And that brings us to passion. Passion is that burning feeling that gives us the will and the drive to achieve our goals, to win the race, to obtain the imperishable crown by choosing love. “Relationships and running both start the same way, with that magic potion called passion. Both spark a thrill that inevitably wanes and takes ongoing effort to rekindle. The rekindling happens by deliberately trying new things, new routes, new challenges." Julie and Chris, whether you love each other through the most challenging times of your marriage will be your choice. As my high school gym teacher, Mr. Rotella, used to say, “You gotta wanna.” Marriage is about passionate love.
Insanity. You know, there’s a back-story to our first reading from the Book of Tobit that we don’t hear in today’s passage. Tobiah is Sarah’s eighth husband. Each of her previous seven husband’s died on their wedding night, and Tobiah knows this going into the marriage. Is he crazy? Yeah, crazy in love. Love means taking risks, stepping out of our comfort zone, becoming vulnerable. Just think about it, “[o]nce you say, ‘I love you,’ you stand foolish and exposed until the other says, ‘I love you too.’” I've already made clear that I think runners are crazy – you choose to push your bodies to extreme limits; you choose to run in traffic with people like me driving. Well, I assure you that married people are a little crazy, too – we choose to cede some of our independence to another person; we choose to wake up every morning with someone else’s bad breath blowing in our faces. Marriage can be crazy. So what should we do when the crazy gets a little too crazy? We should do what Tobiah and Sarah did - we should pray. Through prayer, we tap into God’s love for strength, for wisdom and for healing in the crazy times. And as crazy as it sounds, it worked for Tobiah (he lived). Marriage is about insane love.
 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco, Harper Collins, 1980) at 109.
 Josh Ketchum, “Running Together: A Marriage Analogy,” Life in the Kingdom Blog (July 26, 2013), http://www.joshketchum.com/running-together-a-marriage-analogy.
 Sarah Lavender Smith “Marriage: The Ulitmate Long Run,” The Runner’s Trip Blog (June 30, 2011), http://www.therunnerstrip.com/2011/06/marriage-the-ultimate-long-run.
 Richard Rohr, O.F.M.