October 1, 2023

After 50 years, the lovely couple heard once again the wedding yell, “Kiss the bride!” Maria Condesa was still daring to kiss her husband in public and it aroused the loudest applause from the congregation, especially their family who were all in golden motif.
Another miracle happened inside the church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Sagada, Mountain Province on Nov. 9. Maria Condesa and Joseph Lingbanan renewed their marriage vows with the big family of 13 children and their respective families.
The gospel reading of the Holy Eucharist was the wedding at Cana. The homily revolved on the line of Mama Mary to the servers, “Do whatever He tells you.” The couple, Maria and Joseph reminded me of the Holy Family of Jesus. The couple listened to the Word and obeyed it.
Fifty years of loving and faithful relationship is rare nowadays. Lakay Joseph and baket Maria are concrete examples of faithful wife and diligent mother and a responsible father and a faithful husband.
Joseph was 19 and Maria was 18. Fifty years after, they celebrated the fruits of what they promised.
Baket Maria Condesa and lakay Joseph planned to build a big family, not a big concrete house. Indeed, they were able to bring forth 14 children. Unfortunately, one left the world to meet with his Creator.
Most of the 13 children are married with their respective families and children to officially turn baket Maria and lakay Joseph certified grandparents.
We read from Unitatis Redintegratio about marriage in God’s plan. # 1602 “Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a vision of the wedding feast of the Lamb.” [Rev 19:7, 9; Gen 1:26-27] Scripture speaks throughout of marriage and its “mystery,” its institution and the meaning God has given it, its origin and its end, its various realizations throughout the history of salvation, the difficulties arising from sin and its renewal “in the Lord” in the New Covenant of Christ and the Church. [1 Cor 7:39; cf. Eph 5:31-32]”

1603 The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution. # 1604 “God who created man out of love also calls him to love the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love.” [Gen 1:27; 1 Jn 4:8, 16] “And God blessed them, and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it’.” [Gen 1:28; cf. 1:31] “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” [Mt 19:6]

The Lingbanan couple’s golden wedding anniversary that was celebrated in a renewal of vows is the third couple I presided over this year. The common ground of strength is their faithfulness to God that made them faithful to one another as spouses.
They proved that the law of divorce is simply irrelevant even in today’s contemporary world. The lawmakers must listen and learn from these lovely and beautiful couples. True and faithful love will fulfill its vow, “In sickness and in health, in richer and in poorer, until death do us part.”
The couples did what they were told: “Do whatever he tells.” Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” They filled the jars with water and Jesus did his first miracle, the changing of water into best wine. Note that the miracle was the first miracle and it happened in a wedding banquet. It happened even without the knowledge of the couple who were about to be publicly be embarrassed or even insulted by the cultural and social norm.
This is a clear message for all couples, be faithful to the Lord and miracles will always be at home. Selfless generosity and selfless service will always be the door to welcome God’s providence at home. Selfishness will close the doors and windows of God’s miracles to happen at home.
The family of lakay Edward and baket Inocencia Litilit (diamond wedding anniversary) and lakay Joseph and baket Maria Lingbanan are proofs too that a big family is always a happy family. I connect with their testimony because my family too is a big family of 13 children. I attest that a big family is a happy family.
To the advocates of “one child policy,” abortion, and divorce, may your minds be opened by the testimonies of these Christian couples who made your man-made and destructive laws irrelevant. Listen to the will of God and not of man.
I was impressed by the thanksgiving message of Eldon Lingbanan, the last child of the family. I am sharing it again for more people to read. Feel his message and learn from it.
“Warm greetings to my beloved parents and to everyone present here to celebrate and make our parents’ golden anniversary special.
First, I would like to congratulate my parents for reaching their 50th wedding anniversary. There is no way to measure how much I love you,ma and pa. I really don’t know how to express what I hold in my heart for both of you. Ma and pa, you have both taught and disciplined me and my siblings to make us better versions of ourselves and loving us unconditionally.
Life after wedding changes both the status and the person as they have to make certain adjustments and compromises for a relationship to work. I may not have personally witnessed the first years of your marriage but from what I experienced, from birth until now, I can say that both of you showed equal effort every day to raise us and have seen you deal with every problem that came your way. You have given to each other enormous trust and unconditional love to make your marriage work.
For 50 years of being married, you have gone through a lot but you never left each other, especially during hard times of life, for 50 years of being committed to one person with all your heart and soul. You have proven to us millennials that we can find our forever.
Lastly, you both have become an inspiration to me and to everyone. Thank you, ma and pa, for giving life to me and my siblings, for laboring night and day to nourish us with your unconditional love and care. Without you both, we could have not reached our dreams now and we could have failed to understand the meaning and importance of love and family. You have taught us how to build a house and make it a home where everyone is welcome to rest and for me is a safe heaven.”
The message of Eldon naturally instructed all the listeners to ponder more and appreciate the gift of life in the sacrament of marriage.
I thank the ever thoughtful and generous couple, Sir James and Rita Lingbanan for the invitation to be part of their family golden celebration. They indeed sacrificed to visit me for several times in Barangay Kilong to arrange for their happy surprise celebration. They surprised their parents with a happy and priceless gift.
The Holy Mass was the highest gift that culminated the grateful hearts and the family celebration was punctuated by folk country songs by my humble self and by Sir Rod Peleo until the day was over. Lively gong beating and dancing were performed by the family that enticed everybody to participate. The family prepared a sumptuous lunch, which we all shared with contentment.
It was no longer a “Kiss the bride!” but “Kiss the wife!” and they will live happily ever after.
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