Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 3, 2021 — Year B
Readings: Gn 2:18-24 / Ps 128 / Heb 2:9-11 / Mk 10:2-16
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
Someone once said that, when a person gets into deep trouble, he or she is surrounded by close friends and family. And he continued by saying, “If you don’t believe this, just take a look at your wedding pictures.”
Brothers and sisters, from time to time, we tell jokes about married couples, but that is not at all to belittle the sanctity and permanence of marriage. In today’s gospel, Jesus is very clear and emphatic: “Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Marriage is forever and for always.
In ancient times, Jewish law allowed a husband to divorce his wife, even for superficial reasons. For example, a husband could divorce his wife if her cooking was not good, or if she opposed her father-in-law, or if she no longer pleased him. In fact, the law even allowed a husband to evict his wife if he chose a more beautiful woman. It sounds odd, but that was the practice during Jesus’ time.
For Jesus, this law was not in harmony with God’s will, not only because women were being mistreated, but because marriage was created by the Lord to be lasting.
The dignity of marriage is something basic, not only for married couples, but also for families, children, and above all, for society itself. Because of this, it is very important for us to know the person who will be our spouse for the rest of our lives. Many people think that divorce is the way to patch up their lives, and they justify this by thinking to themselves, “I have a right to begin my life anew.” But divorce is not a solution for Catholics. It is true that our Church does permit separation of spouses, if married life has reached the point that living together has become impossible. But marriage itself remains sacred.
God Himself, at the beginning of all creation, created marriage, and when Jesus came, He elevated it to the dignity of a sacrament. Notice that after His words on the permanence and sanctity of marriage, Jesus turns His attention to the children. He puts his arms around them, lays His hands on them, and gives them His blessing. That is because it is the children who suffer if a marriage is just a “you-and-I” that matters, and God is left out of the picture altogether.
As adults, we were somehow able to deal with the difficulties and suffering brought about by the pandemic. Imagine if we adults were not there to protect the little ones who are helpless and vulnerable. Also in life, children have a need to feel that their parents provide security and protection, and such a need is met especially when there is harmony, stability, and permanence in marriage.
Yes, none of us is perfect. We all fall short of the ideal of living as Jesus lived. Jesus is patient, kind, and quick to forgive. We can become impatient, selfish, and easily get discouraged. We say no to God and to one another, but with Christ, it is never yes or no. It is always yes.
Today, as we recall God’s great gift of Christian marriage, think over your marriage promises, your vows. On your wedding day, you made a covenant that is a three-way partnership. It is not just a woman and a man. It is a man and a woman and Jesus Christ. Christ, the one who is always loving, is always faithful, is always there for each of you, will fill up what is lacking in each of you, will heal what is hurt and broken, will strengthen what is weak. He gives married people the sacramental graces they need to live faithfully and happily. The couple no longer needs to rely on each other; they can turn to Jesus in their needs. He’s the one who can help people today beat the odds and have a successful and happy marriage.
Perhaps there are some of our brothers and sisters here who are suffering the pain of a failed relationship. Please know that the Church is here to help you to heal the pain, and has many resources at its disposal which might benefit you. If you or someone you care about is in this situation, please do not hesitate to ask for assistance in dealing with this difficult problem. Allow Christ to touch you with healing, consolation, and forgiveness through the ministry of the Church. And those of you who are widows and widowers, the Church joins you in your pain, but also in your gratitude for the sacramental sign you found in your spouse.
So, my brothers and sisters, whether you are newly married, or your Golden Jubilee was some years ago, in all the events of your married life, call upon Jesus for help. Keep Him at the center of your married life, and actively look for ways to make that happen. Rely on the Christian community to support you in your commitment, and spend time in prayer together, even briefly, every day. Let Him nourish us with His word, and through His holy presence in the Blessed Sacrament.
Let us conclude by offering a prayer for all married people who are here today, and for all married couples, including those who pray with us online. May you find true happiness as you walk this journey together. May you recognize the face of Jesus in each other. May you find the forgiveness of Jesus in one another. May you experience the self-sacrificing love of Jesus in one another. May you grow every day in your knowledge and love of God and one another. May you help one another to become more holy day by day, now and always. May Jesus Christ be praised.