Sunday, July 1, 2018

Do Justice, Love Goodness, Walk Modestly

Saturday night, I officiated Paige and Zach’s wedding ceremony at the Balcony Ballroom, in Metairie, Louisiana. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I began by introducing myself as a rabbi, and hopefully by this point in the ceremony, I have backed up this claim. What if I told, though, that one of the other people standing here could have ended up in my place? No joke; listen to what Zach says: “As a boy, my Judaism was a large part of my life. I went to Hebrew school on Saturdays, Judaica [classes] on Wednesdays and I sang Hebrew around the house for fun... My family… thought that I was going to be a Rabbi!” Now, many kids barely last through their Bar Mitzvah, but Zach continued through Confirmation, and attended weekly Hebrew High School classes for his entire time in high school.

Paige was no slouch either. She says: “Both my sisters and I went to catholic school from kindergarten until senior year of high school. During this time, I was taught all about the Catholic religion… in school and during my daily life. I received the sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, Holy Communion, and Confirmation.”

Now, you might wonder why I am emphasizing these parts of Paige and Zach’s biographies. I’ll tell you why. Because for Paige and Zach it didn’t stop there. They understood the message of their upbringing, that the ritual aspects of their faiths were a starting point, not an end point. They absorbed the underlying imperative of our faiths, so beautifully stated by Pope Francis, “Many think differently, feel differently, seeking God or meeting God in different ways. In this crowd, in this range of religions, there is only one certainty that we have for all: We are all children of God, we believe in love.”

Paige and Zach understand that this is not just a statement of faith; it is a call to action. What action? The prophet Micah told us 2,700 years ago. The people ask him: “With what shall I approach the Lord, do homage to God on high? Shall I approach Him with burnt offerings… Shall I give my first-born?” And Micah simply answers, “He has told you… what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do justice, and to love goodness, and to walk modestly with your God.”

The values of justice and goodness and modesty are what Paige and Zach absorbed, as they grew and matured spiritually, and this is what they brought to each other and to their relationship. This is why Zach says, “I feel she makes me a genuinely better person… I am so happy when I am with her.” This is what causes Paige to say, “I love this man and I count myself lucky to have him… He is everything I… ever wanted… I look forward to the coming years together.”