Genesis 2:13-24; Ps 128:1-6; Hebrew 2:9-11;Mark 10:2-16 Dear Holy Spirit, please give us Your wisdom on marriage.
Is it obvious that the theme this weekend is on the union of a man and a woman. If you do any shopping you still see a young man and woman together and sometimes holding hands. The natural attraction for a different partner is deeply ingrained in our nature, put there by our creator. If not we would not couple and the human race would end within a century. God had a plan and he put it into effect.
The first reading is from Genesis 2. Genesis was not the first book in the Bible to be written. It was written only 500 years before Jesus was born. Jews wanted to know their origins. Genesis 1 is the first creation story from a liturgical setting. God worked 6 days in creating everything from nothing. Adam was created on the sixth day. The seventh day was for rest for Jews and worship of God.
Chapter 2 gives us the second creation story. Mankind is the high point of that spiritual story. In this story God first created the universe and earth with its water. Then he created Adam from the dust of the earth and “breathed into him the breath of God’s life, which He did not put in lower creatures. After that God created the garden of Eden, with plants, trees and the animals. God then put Adam in the garden to name the animals. Yet they were not suitable companions for him. God said it was not good for Adam to be alone so God put Adam to sleep, took a rib from him and created a suitable companion. Adam said, “This is one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” And Adam named her woman. A caring and loving God wanted to share His love with the highest of His creation and have them productively share that love with each other. Our Jewish-Christian tradition calls this a marriage. Married couples share companionship and love, which produces offspring. Thus you have the two main purposes of marriage. God’s initial plan was and has been programmed into us at our creation. It is part of our human nature.
Divorce then and now
Jesus explains, in today’s section of Mark’s gospel, that Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of people’s hearts. We know from experience in our culture that is not the only reason why people separate. As a priest for many years, I know it can be very difficult for a man and woman to come from very different family backgrounds, marry and begin to create together a very different life together. It takes a lot of understanding, self-sacrifice, sharing of dreams and resources, and God’s grace. That is why Jesus gave us the sacrament of marriage in which the couple receives great help from God to share love, create God’s children and raise them to maturity in a loving and stable environment. We all know that the process is not easy. This loving union is God’s complementarily so this new couple can help each other and the children get to heaven.
Our church over time has developed various ways to help couples in discern and grow. We need to do a better job in helping young people in the dating and discernment process to discover God’s choice of a good companion for life. They also have Engaged Encounter as a big help among other programs. We need to form groups of families to help young marrieds adjust. The Marriage Encounter movement can help good marriages be better. The Retrouvaille movement is a weekend retreat to help troubled couples on the way to divorce. Stability is very important for the couple, and especially the children, to be safe and mentored into adulthood, which takes about 20 years.
There are ways of separating if it is impossible for a couple to live safely and peacefully together. A parish structure is like an extended and enlarged family with many resources to help us grow as good Catholics. We are not perfect but can help one another. Marriage and family are the basic building blocks of all societies. That is one major reason why St. Pope John Paul II established a “World Meeting of Families ” every three years in different parts of the world, to discuss and encourage families to have happier lives amidst many difficulties. Our church is a worldwide family in God’s love, to help one another, to improve our culture, country and world experience more of God’s love. October 4 through 24 is the Synod of Bishops in Rome to further discuss how we can be of more help for families in trouble to be fully a part of our Christian family.
Stand up for marriage
As Catholics, we have to state clearly God’s original plan for marriage. We have to stand against the lies and confusion that Christ’s enemies are perpetuating around the world. God’s plan is that marriage is to be a stable union of one man and one woman. Anything else is not a marriage. We can call it a union of same-sex couples but it is not a marriage, no matter what judges or the Supreme Court try to call it. Same sex “plumbing” doesn’t couple for reproduction. That is not God’s truth or plan. Those unions belong to satan’s kingdom. It will not lead anyone to eternal happiness in heaven. We are called to accept and love one another as God loves us. We must be faithful to the principles God laid down from the beginning if we are to enjoy the eternal joys of heaven. Obviously there is so much to say about all of this.
For all Franciscans this is our great feast of St. Francis of Assisi. As a Franciscan of 53 year I shall remember all of you in my prayers this October 4th. Let us continue to ask the Holy Trinity, Father, Jesus and their Holy Spirit, to enlighten us.
Peace and all good, was St. Francis’ greeting to all.
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2015 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)