Homily for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dearly Beloved, Is there a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary this week? How many celebrated last month or in this month? How many, for the months ahead? Friends, there is no doubt whatsoever that the theme for our reflection today is one of the most challenging and sensitive in our society today. Marriage! Friends, you know as well as I do, of the difficulty in speaking about the Christian idea of marriage today. Many cultures, including ours, no longer accept such definition. This notwithstanding, we should be able to speak clearly and yet not condemn anyone.
From the book of Genesis, our first reading reminds us not so much of the intention of creating the woman, but more importantly the relationship that exits between the man and the woman. Emphasis should not be placed so much on the details but the general truth, which is revealed. The truth is that man and woman are essentially of the same substance from the same Creator, within the same period of creation. Woman is not inferior to man because she’s created from man. No, the intent of this revelation is to show that they are both from God.
In the gospel from Mark, Jesus echoes the Creator’s original plan for the permanence of marriage. Contrary to the Pharisee’s insistence that Moses permitted divorce, Jesus maintains that divorce and other reasons of separation were never in the plan of the Creator. Disharmony in homes, cheating among couples, broken homes, those who are widowed, childlessness, singleness and the like which causes many to suffer in marriages were never the plan of God. But rather as a result of sin; Mankind’s decision to push God, the Lord of Life, aside and to have their own ways and what pleases them.
Some people suffer the destruction of their marriage or the inability to form a sacred and lasting union due to the effects of sin in the world, not necessarily they themselves being responsible. Couples should spend time in prayer together so they will withstand the distressing pressures on marriage. Many good people have been pulled away from the intention of the Creator by the forces of the world. The church will have to separate couples and at times annul marriage relationships, all because of sin.
In the same way, there are so many wonderful people even in our community who wish they could marry, but have not found and may never find, a person with whom they can make a lasting union. Perhaps they are not called to the sacrament of marriage. Perhaps, they also are innocent victims of evil in the world, victims of that evil that has destroyed their potential husbands and wives by convincing that supposed spouse out there to instead seek selfishness over sacrificial love. The single also need our love and support.
Jesus had cause to speak in defense against the popular practice of his time that were contrary to God’s original plan. This is very similar to the current culture we find ourselves. Marriage, procreation, family life are confronted daily. Divorce is widely accepted by many to the point that some are suggesting that there should not even be marriage. Rather an advocacy to allow people form relationships with anyone else and stay together until it no longer works!, then move on to another. At least you will not have to endure an unbearable partner. That will keep people happy all the time in a relationship. This notion of living together is devoid of sacrifice, which is at the core of sacramental marriage; that which compares marriage between a man and a woman to the love of Christ for his bride the church and so gave His life for her.
Dearly Beloved, the good news however is that there are many young people in our parish and elsewhere, who amidst the pressures from the culture they live in, are enthusiastically embracing sacramental marriage. They see marriage as a gift from God between a man and a woman. They equally view children as fruits in the celebration of their own obedience to the creator. For many of such people, I encourage you first to live the teachings of Jesus and the Church and then to speak fearlessly about God’s plan for marriage and children. We could even become martyrs for stating clearly the traditional teachings. Let us choose walking on the side of the Lord.
Those of you who genuinely have obstacles for which you cannot be blessed in the church, I pray that those obstacles are resolved. For those who have not given a great thought to having sacramental marriage, please do have a serious consideration about it.
In conclusion, I, on behalf of the singles, the celibates, the separated, the divorced, the widowed, exhort the married in these words: We know the many challenges you face each day. However, we need your light to see ahead of the tunnel. We encourage you to embrace and to live the ideals of marriage as intended by the creator. Let the world around you see the beauty of sacrificial love. We are proud of you. You have our support.