7 Oct. 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Gen 2:18-24. God made man and woman for each other, to bond in mutual support and fidelity so as to become one flesh.
Heb 2:9-11. Entering fully into human life, and experiencing the bitterness of death, Jesus became fully our brother and a saviour for all.
Mk 10:2-16. Jesus teaches that “what God has joined together, let no one separate” and “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”
The Challenge of Marriage
Even though modern society makes us tolerant of divorce following marital breakdown, Christ’s words in today’s Gospel invite us to reflect on the permanence of marriage and the dignity of the marriage commitment. His declaration about the indissolubility of marriage presents a difficult ideal for us in our times, who are so often influenced by a libertarian ideology that prizes personal fulfilment above all else.
Marriage as an institution is built upon basic, life-giving human instincts and is capable of surviving even in the present climate of social change. The intact families who have kept fidelity for many years demonstrate that it can weather the storms which even true love cannot avoid or evade. But the evidence of so much instability in our society, and the increasing number of marital separations, does need to be prayed about; and proper regard must be shown in the Church for people who are in new unions after their first union has broken up, for whatever reason. It is not enough for our Church to propose an ideal of marriage based on fidelity and determination alone. The problems of tense marriage relationships are not solved by vigorous preaching, no matter how well-meant. Conscious of this, our Church has agencies to help couples to prepare for marriage, and to cope with the conflicts that threaten the permanence of many marriages. Examples of the kind of marriage-counselling services available locally could feature in today’s homily.
One could also mention some of the common reasons for failure in married life. It can be that people who were not emotionally mature at the time of their marriage, nor fully, responsibly free in giving their marriage consent. People who were never made aware of the deeper, spiritual meaning of marriage, can later discover that their marriage was an unfortunate mistake.. In helping to prepare young couples for marriage, in fostering their growth in married love and even in declaring certain marriages null and void, those involved must try to combine their ideal of marriage with an appreciation of love between the sexes and with understanding and compassion for those who find difficulty in living up to the challenges of Christian marriage today.
by Jack McArdle
Jesus teaches about marriage, and goes on to speak powerfully about the place of children in his kingdom; this, of course, also includes those who have the heart of a child towards God as a Father. My friend Paddy was a countryman in the truest sense of that word. He kept his cards close to his chest, and he never gave much information when asked a question. Someone asked him one time how many brothers he had, and his answer, without intending to be funny, was: “I have two brothers dead; I have two brothers alive; and the other two are married!” He wasn’t sure which category they belonged to! Jesus is definite in today’s gospel
One suspects that there is an attitude out there today that would dismiss most of this gospel as something that does not apply to our times. I think it is important to distinguish between what is actually a rule or a law, and how that law is applied. The application of law in the past was often seen to be arbitrary and insensitive. Not all marriages work out. Of course, people make mistakes, and some people just don’t have what it takes to live in a healthy life-giving relationship. Nobody marries with the intention that this marriage will not work. A wedding is for a day, but marriage is for a lifetime.
On their wedding day, a couple set out on a journey, which will lead them into love. They may imagine that they love each other now, but that is not love. It is infatuation, which is important at this stage of their relationship. The word comes from the Latin ignus fatuous, which, literally means a false fire! It won’t last. It is based on feelings, and feelings, while being good, are uncontrollable. Love is a decision, not a feeling. While I cannot control a feeling, I can renew a decision each and every day. As a matter of fact, living today on the decision of today is the secret of keeping a marriage alive.
For a marriage to succeed requires constant, personal effort. It is a couple growing together. The relationship is dynamic, never static, in that, if it is not moving forward, it is surely going backwards. Most people don’t notice this until they have gone back too far. Growing in love with another means facing up to my own selfishness every single day. It means dying to myself in thousands of little ways, because “greater love than this no one has, that a person should lay down a life for a friend.” It is only those who die to themselves that are capable of giving life to others. Then, in turn, because of that, they are the ones who receive life.
First Reading: Book of Genesis 2:18-24
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner.
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.”
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Second Reading: Epistle to the Hebrews 2:9-11
We see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
Gospel: Mark 10:2-16 or, shorter version: Mark 10:2-12
Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery too.”
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.