27 Sunday of the Year B
Gn 2:18-24; Dt 2:9-11; Mk 10:2-16
According to scripture, each relationship between God and his people is called a covenant. God initiated a covenant by expressing his love toward his people. God invited his people to respond to his love.
Not only God established the vertical covenant, the up and down relationship between God and his people, but also he established the horizontal covenants between people and people. The book of Genesis tells us God established the marriage covenant by calling Adam and Eve to be faithful in marriage: That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two of them become one body (Gn 2:24).
In the gospel, Jesus quotes the same verse of Genesis to speak of the indissolubility of marriage (Mk 10:7). When the Son of God came down to be born among us as man, he raised the marriage covenant to the sacrament of marriage. Therefore, the sacrament of marriage exists when two baptized persons pledge their love, fidelity and service to each other. The married fidelity is the reflection of Jesus’ fidelity to his Church.
Jesus affirms the inseparability of marriage: What God has joined, man must not divide (Mk 10:9). When some of the Pharisees questioned Jesus, why Moses allowed divorce, Jesus told them it was because of the hardness of their hearts that Moses permitted divorce. However, from the beginning of creation, God decreed that marriage be inseparable as best for the temporal and spiritual welfare of the couple and their children. Divorce would make children suffer losses: material, emotional, mental and spiritual. In the past, marriage was protected to the utmost it could be. Marriage was protected by family, religion and state. It was also protected by tradition and culture. Married life was encouraged and supported by parents, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors.
Living in our present and modern society, marriage is attacked by all forces: newspapers, magazines, movies, radios, televisions, and even internet. By allowing divorce, civil laws no longer protect marriage and family. Realizing that the wedding lasts only one day while marriage is for life, many dioceses in the United States these days require engaged couples to study and wait six months before their wedding.
During the six-month period, they are required to attend marriage instructions and continue to learn about each other, to find out if they are compatible and can share their life together for life. During this period of waiting and preparations, if they find themselves different fundamentally, they are expected to break off. Those engaged couples who are serious about preparations to enter the married life also encourage priests who would witness their marriage.
To love each other is to see in the same direction and follow the same goal in life. When two persons see in the same direction and follow the same goal, they can help each other by fulfilling their call to married life. In order for marriage to last for life, they need to discover the beauty of married love and life. They need to bring God into their married lives so that he can journey with them and take his sovereignty over their lives.
In the past, divorce was not allowed. Our grandparents and ancestors were together for life until death. They kept in mind that marriage was for life. Thus, they built up their relationship on the positive points of their partners instead of dwelling on the negative ones. The marriage relationship is the most rewarding experience of all human relationships because it is the closest relationship, bringing security and trust of a man and a woman. Perhaps husband and wife would find true love in married life if they try to find it in friendship.
In our time, people talk a lot about love and not enough about friendship. Friendship in marriage is very important for fidelity. If before marriage, a husband and wife were not friends, they should try to find ways to become friends. If friends do not want to separate, then friendship in marriage should help the couple to be together for life.
Jesus often used a married relationship to compare with the relationship between God and his people. In scripture, Jesus compares the relationship of himself and the church to the relationship between a husband and a wife. God is always faithful to his covenant with his people and God wants them to be faithful to their covenant with him and with one another. In our everyday life, if they keep in mind the life-long bond of matrimony and if they happen to offend one another in words or deeds, they would try to find ways to reconcile with one another so that they may live in peace.
Today let us pray that we may remain faithful to our calling - not only faithful to the married life - but also faithful to each covenant we have made with God through the sacraments we received: either the sacrament of baptism, the sacrament of matrimony or the sacrament of the order to the priesthood and religious life.
Prayer asking for fidelity in married life:
Oh Lord, God of the living!
You are always faithful to your covenant
you made with your people.
Teach us to be faithful to our covenants
we made through the sacraments we received.
Do not let us hear empty, whispering temptations
lest we break our promises with one another and with you. Amen.
John Tran Binh Trong