1st Reading: Genesis 2:18-24; 2nd Reading: Hebrews 2:9-11; Gospel: Mark 10:2-16
THEME: CHILDLIKE ATTITUDE IN MARRIAGE: A GATEWAY TO GOD’S KINGDOM!
Some of the prevalent problems confronting our contemporary societies, mostly accrue from marital issues, of which; pride, selfishness, unforgiving spirit, discontentment, insincerity, comparison, communication gap, discord etc., are invariably the main causative factors. Many spouses are living in regrets, or under the yoke of a vow they wished they had never taken. Unfortunately, they feel the best option for peace to reign is to divorce each other; which has become commonplace in our society. However, this is contrary to God’s intention about marriage from the beginning.
Meanwhile, the FIRST READING of today deals with the institution of marriage, which is a divine and sacred institution, an indissoluble bond that has stood the test of time. As the scripture says, “… a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh (Gen. 2:24).” For God willed that husband and wife should be one in every sense; and by creating the duo, He called them to an intimate communion of life and of love in marriage. Undoubtedly, this shows the equality of woman with man – one complementing the other, and their lifelong union in a monogamous marriage are historical truths.
However, due to the proud, selfish, unforgiving and insincere attitudes of some Jews, as well as their hardness of hearts, they compelled Moses to allow them issue a woman a certificate of divorce, which became widely practiced among them ever since the time of Moses. But, this was a violation of God’s law, as is clearly revealed in the first reading. Consequently, with the same mentality, the Pharisees cunningly questioned Jesus Christ on the issue of divorce in today’s GOSPEL, so as to know if He would contradict the Law of Moses, as indeed he did, and thereby to formulate a charge of heresy against Him. But in response to them, Jesus Christ, not only reaffirmed the original plan of God concerning marriage bond (Gen. 2), but upholds its sanctity by raising it to the dignity of a sacrament, giving spouses a special grace to live out their marriage as a symbol of Christ’s love for His bride – the Church.
He further added that, “…what God has joined together let not man separate.” This implies that conjugal union is indissoluble, and whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another, commits adultery (Lk.16:18). Meanwhile, the affirmation of marriage has long been a concern of the Church. Having steadfastly defended the indissolubility of the marriage bond through the centuries. Thus, in one of his encyclicals, Pope Pius XI averred that: “it is an immutable and inviolable fundamental doctrine that marriage was not instituted or restored by man but by God; …hence these laws cannot be subject to any human decrees or to any contrary pact even of the spouses themselves (Casti Connubii, 31st Dec. 1930, no. 5).”
Moreover, according to the teachings of the Church, for a marriage to be valid, Consent has to be established between persons who are legally capable of marriage (viz. psychologically mature, baptismal status, degree of relationship, potency, etc.). Matrimonial Consent here means, an act of will by which a man and a woman, by an irrevocable covenant, mutually give and receive one another for the purpose of establishing a marriage (Can. 1057). Meanwhile, the consent needs to be both true and lawfully manifested, which involves each spouse actually intending what he or she says. But if someone deliberately consents to marriage, but in reality denies his or her internal consent to marriage, in that case, excluding the marriage itself or some essential part of it, that consent is said to be Simulated or a Pretense, and the marriage is invalid, because of the grave defect of consent. So if the consent is not valid, no marriage is created and the consent is null and void (Can. 1095-1103), otherwise every valid marriage is indissoluble.
Unfortunately, due to the little value some people attach to marriage in our contemporary world, many couples today often resort to divorce on any slightest provocation or little challenges, even when some of them know the implications. So, when couples fail to resolve their marital issues in a healthy and constructive manner, their children may be influenced negatively.
Interestingly, Jesus Christ gave us the antidotes to marital issues in the Gospel. That, “anyone who does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child, shall not enter it.” This implies that couples should develop childlike attitudes for peace to always prevail in their marriages. This is because Children (not corrupt ones) are innocent and simple, they do not hate, discriminate or argue unnecessarily, but love sincerely from their hearts; they forgive easily and would be quick to say I am sorry without holding grudges against anyone. Their hearts are very clean, and can easily tell you their minds without reservations. No wonder, in the Beatitudes, Christ said to His disciples, “Blessed are the pure in heart, they shall see God” (Matt.5:8).
Furthermore, in time of trouble, children easily trust their parents, and are full of hopes. Christ also emphasized this in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 5:3).” To be poor in spirit means, to put your trust, not in your own ability, but in God Almighty for His guidance and assistance. Proverbs 3:5 puts it clearer and says, “Trust wholeheartedly in God and do not rely on what you think you know, acknowledge Him in all you do…” This is God’s intention for creating human beings in His own image and likeness, so that they would reflect His attributes on earth like children.
In the SECOND READING, we are called to emulate Jesus Christ, our Master, who in spite of all the suffering He passed through, yet persevered and brought us salvation.
Therefore, couples should always note the following:
- Everyone partner has a dark history: No one is an angel, therefore, avoid digging one’s past. What really matters is the present life of your partner, so focus on the present and the future. Always forgive and be tolerant.
- Marriage is not a bed of roses: Every shining marriage has gone through its own test of hot and excruciating fire. True love is proved in time of challenges. Always be patient.
- Do not compare your marriage with another: People can never be equal. Be contented, work hard and with time, your marriage dreams shall come true.
- There is no perfect marriage: Every marriage is imbue with plethora of challenges. It is like a Computer or Vehicle with a hard disk or engine, respectively. If these parts are not properly maintained, they will crash or breakdown.
- Always Pray together: A family that prays together, stays together peacefully.
Finally, marriage is a divine and sacred institution, which is indissoluble. Therefore, couples, or prospective couples should always pray very hard and make serious inquires before entering into this life time bond. To be happy in marriage is not to have a life without troubles, but to find strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, and love in discord, always bearing with each other. It is not only to enjoy the smiles, but also to reflect on the sadness; not only to celebrate the successes, but to learn lessons from the failures. It is confidence in the face of criticism, even when unjustified; courage to always say I am sorry, and the ability to always say I love you. When one partner makes mistakes, he or she should humbly admit them, apologize and start all over again. Instead of opting for divorce in difficult times, couples would later discover that to be happy is not to have a perfect married life. But, to use their tears to irrigate tolerance, and their losses to train patience.
Therefore, I pray that your marriage or family may be sustained by the Power of the Holy Spirt, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!!!
Peace of Christ be with you…
Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.