Fr.PatHeppeSpringtime brings to our parish churches an increase in the number of weddings. These ceremonies are wonderful celebrations of love and, hopefully, strong faith. Do couples really remember the ceremony? Have they invested in it? I have a great “witness” from a former parish where it really made a difference.

In October 1985 I was asked to submit to the Catholic Herald a “pastoral reflection” on the Gospel, which for that occasion was Mark 12: 28-34. I doubt if the thought was original, but my reflection centered on the use of an “onion” as an image for love.

I was then asked to re-work it and use it as a wedding homily. The article from Oct. 31, 1985 is as follows: “Onions cry love.”

Behold, the onion! Behold the spherical, agricultural mass of growth with the potential to do great things for salads, meats, vegetables, even pizza. Yes, the onion is certainly worthwhile, but who ever heard of using the onion to unlock some of the secrets of love?

The concept of love is used to describe scores of things totally unrelated to love. We speak of loving food, clothes, places, animals and all sorts of things which cannot possibly be truly loved. So, then, why be concerned at using an onion to describe love?

Behold the onion! How did it get to be the way it is? Some parent onion gave its seed to give life to the onion. The seed was nurtured and cared for by others and slowly it grew. It was watered, fertilized, cultivated and it grew large and strong. Isn’t that love?

Behold the onion! Onions are smooth and round. There’s no beginning and no end.

They’re a constant sphere. Isn’t that love? Shouldn’t that be love?

Behold the onion! Onions can be used in so many different ways. They can be sliced, diced, minced, stewed, broiled and fried, just to mention a few. So many people enter our lives and each relationship radiates a unique form of love. Each relationship is so different.

Each relationship is valuable. Each relationship is important. What potential love has. Isn’t that like an onion?

Behold the onion! We’re actually afraid of it. We stand clear when it’s being cut to prevent eye irritations and tears. Let someone else break it open. Let someone else do the dirty work. Let someone else be uncomfortable. But it must be broken open. Someone must take the risk. It must be distributed and shared or it won’t be any good for anyone. Isn’t it love?

Love that’s kept selfishly and stored, love that’s not shared, love that’s not used is love that’s no good. Love that’s kept selfishly inside is irritating and repulsive. It loses its reason to exist. Isn’t that like an onion?

When a couple gets married, love is seen and experienced in a fresh and unspoiled way.

Love brings out good things in people. The love the man has for his wife brings out good things from her. The love the woman has for her husband brings out good things from him, but doesn’t stop there. True love spills over and touches all. Love continues to call forth good from family, friends, and others as well.

What is the problem? Why hasn’t the world improved more significantly? Look to the onion. Too many of us are determined to keep that love selfishly inside. It’s easier that way.

Jesus wasn’t the first to tell us that love needs to be shared. He wasn’t first and he won’t be the last. Look at chapter six of the book of Deuteronomy, read the love letters and poems written through the ages, look at sculpture, art, dance and music, look to your neighbors and family who try to love and find that love bound up in ways that slow down the process.

True love isn’t love unless it’s shared. True love brings out the best in others. True love makes the world a better place to be. Isn’t that like an onion? Isn’t that true love?

I’ve used the onion story a few times over the years. It’s always drawn good comments from people.

The groom who requested the “rework” of my Herald article used the onion numerous times through his marriage relationship. On anniversaries, his wife often received an onion or two artistically displayed in a gift bag or basket. When the relationship experienced a bit of “tension,” an onion appeared where the other spouse would see it, reminding him or her a conversation needed to occur. Sometimes an onion would appear for no reason except as a reminder that “I’m thinking about you and love you.”

From the heading of the 1985 article I can say, that’s onions “crying love.” They do cry love if you open your eyes and see the significance.

Taking a “homily image” and using it in a meaningful way warms the heart of a homilist. Have you heard any interesting homily images? Have you used them to connect faith and life? You can use them to speak words of faith for many years to come.