Marriage and Divorce, not just of husbands and wives.
Who is there in your life whom you have let go of because his or her _____ is too overwhelming?
The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, "Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?"
They were testing him.
He said to them in reply, "What did Moses command you?"
They replied, "Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her."
But Jesus told them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. 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, no human being must separate."
In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this.
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."
Although this weekend might lend itself to having a married person to offer this homily, I would like to stand as a celibate priest to attest to the importance of marriage and the hope that committed married love brings to me.
It is unmistakable in the scriptures this weekend that God wants us to be able to experience faithfulness and love. Not the kind that comes and goes but the steadfast and unfailing love that looks and feels like God. In order for us to have that in our lives, there must be those among us who take the invitation to be one forever. Those faithful married persons become for all of us a constant reminder that God is faithful and true. We can read again and again that God has become flesh and dwells among us, but if we don't see that lived out then the word loses some of its power. Faithful and loving married persons bear the presence of God to all of us. They, in their free choice to love each other every day of their lives, put flesh and bones on the word of God. The accusatory verses of Mark's gospel might be able to scare some people into staying married but the true choice to live out love forever is made daily and forever by each party of the marriage. It has sacrifice and self-surrender as its foremost characteristic.
Can you picture the couple who has been the most Godlike for you? They are not perfect, are they? They do not always have their lives figured out, do they? They are not always together, are they? They each have their own faults and failings, don't they? What you probably remember are the times when you saw them stand strong for each other, especially when the other was weak. You probably remember how you saw them be generous even when times were tough for them. You remember the glimpses of love that you saw them exchange during the sign of peace or when they knew that their partner truly understood. You remember when they reminded you of God.
Lest we put all the weight on married people this weekend, the scriptures remind us again that those who are married lead the way for all of us in attesting to God's presence among. Even those of us who are ordained, those in religious profession, those of us who are single, widowed or divorced are called to put flesh and bones on the word of God. Although the bible tells us that a married couple embracing their sacrament is the closest thing we will see to God's love for the people, all of us, married or not, can mirror that love to each other and to the world. We have choices to be faithful or not. Our choices reflect the chastity of our hearts, whether we are married or not. Each of us can choose for or against our oneness with each other and with all of God's creation.
As God has said to us, and as a married couple says to each other and as all of us say to the world, We take each other for the rest of our lives, to have and to hold, from this day forward until death do us part. For richer and for poorer, for better or worse, in sickness and in health. Have we been faithful to each other as we ask married persons to be to each other?
Who is there in your life whom you have let go of because his or her poverty is too overwhelming? Is there anyone in your life, friend or stranger, who has so revolted you by their "worse" that you simply cannot love them anymore? Some people are really sick and act in really sick ways. Has anyone's sickness made it almost impossible for you to love them? Adultery and infidelity is that act of choosing against our oneness with each other. Thank you to the married couples among us who continue to remind us of what we are all constantly called to. We are one. Forever and Forever.Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 5, 2003
Homily Code: GG-8