27th Ordinary Sunday (Year B)
First Reading: Genesis 2:18-24 Second Reading: Hebrews 2:9-11 Gospel Reading: Mark 10:2-16
“MAY THE LORD BLESS US AND PROTECT US ALL THE DAYS OF OUR LIFE!”
A Sunday school teacher was trying to demonstrate the difference between 'right' and 'wrong'. "All right children, let's take an example," she said. "If I were to go into a man's pocket and take his wallet with all his money, what would I be?" A child in the back answered, "You'd be his wife."
Well, the three Scripture Readings of today are all centered around the theme of ' family life' and not to mention that it has its foundation in marriage. In other words, it is with a marriage that a family's life begins.
The First Reading of today from the Book of Genesis takes us back to the first family and our first ancestors. God created man and woman as partners or helpmates to one another, and joined them together as husband & wife. And although the comedian Bill Cosby describes them as our first dysfunctional family, the biblical author highlights the common bond the entire human family has with one another.
Obviously, marriage is instituted by God Himself. Above all therefore, it demands that the spouses make room for God in their relationship. Part of the problem in marriage today is that it is seen by many people as a private arrangement. It's origin is from God as we heard in the first reading. In marriage two people – a man and a woman – promise God as well as each other to stay together as husband and wife “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health until death.” The moment God is removed from the marital relationship, the marriage begins to crumble and may finally fall apart. “May the Lord bless us and protect us all the days of our life!”
Now there is a cute love story told of a boy and a girl: The boy says to the girl - “Hey, I've got two words to say.” “What?” the girl asks. The boy says: “I love You!” “Huh... Isn't that three words?” the girl objects. “No,” replies the boy, “because, 'YOU' and 'I' are ONE.”
In the Gospel Reading of today from St. Mark, the Pharisees ask Jesus a question regarding divorce to test him - “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” And of course they believed they knew the answer. Divorce was permitted by Jewish Law. But Jesus surprised them. He referred to the original intention God had in creating men and women - “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.” It is goodness and love that are at the heart of creation, and marriages are built on them. On hearing today's gospel our minds may well start to focus on the issue of divorce and remarriage, but Jesus wants us to discover or rediscover how it was in the beginning, at creation, and to live and love accordingly. The central and sustaining image is that the two spouses become one indivisible flesh. So, we are not to put asunder what God has Joined. "May the Lord bless us and protect us all the days of our life."
There is a story told about two old friends who were catching up: One friend asked: “How is that you haven’t yet married?” “To be honest,” the second began, “I have spent years looking for the perfect woman. I met a very beautiful and highly intelligent woman and, for a brief time, I thought I had found the perfect woman. But soon I discovered that she was terribly self-centered. Then, I met a woman who was outgoing and generous, but soon I discovered that she was a spendthrift. I had just about given up on meeting the perfect woman until, one day, I met her. Beautiful, intelligent, kind, generous, a wonderful sense of humor. She was the perfect woman.” “So why didn’t you marry her?” his friend asked. Looking down at his glass, he replied, “Because she was looking for the perfect man.”
So often people are looking for the perfect this or that and forget that life is not perfect. Things often don’t work out quite the way we would like. And so too with marriage. Like most things in life, we have to work at a good relationship.
Yes, when we talk about marriage, it is always expected to be forever. In reality though, maintaining and strengthening it is difficult, but not impossible. When two people are united in the biggest commitment of their lives, they seek to complement each other through the boundless love they profess. It calls for commitment to one another despite the ups and downs of everyday life. It also calls for the need to develop a sense of the other, putting always the spouse first - For example, a businessman, he should never put his business before his wife and family. Similarly a professional or a mother, her priority should always be her husband and family.
Again, where there is love, there is admiration. One should always use words of praise for the partner. No matter the occasion, express what you admire about that person, and let him or her know how proud you feel to be his or her partner. Such words of love will be planted forever in your partner's heart, and therefore, self-esteem is strengthened and rewarded towards you the same way.
Moreover, marriage calls for time together to enjoy one another’s company. It requires good communication. Communication in all relevant areas between the couple, such as financial issues, bringing up children, if any, as well as feelings, is a lifeguard and not negotiable. This is the number one rule. If they learn to make this a habit in their relationship, the rest will fall in place even easier.
One may wonder about having in marriage – a sense of humor. But it is important. Someone has said that humor is a mixture of love and wit. We need good humor. Not always, of course, for we can’t take lightly the illness or death of loved ones. We do at times have to take ourselves seriously but not always. We have to be able to smile at our little and large eccentricities — from the way he may slurp his soup to the time she takes to do her hair – for life is full of contradictions. We have to expect the inconsistent in ourselves, in others, and we have to talk humorously about it and laugh lovingly with humor.
Also, like any relationship, marriage involves conflict, perhaps over money. For example, who controls it and how is it spent? Are you a tightwad or a spendthrift? Marriage demands that we always keep things in perspective, that we continually forgive and get on with our relationship despite arguments now and then. Sometimes it’s okay to say we agree to disagree. “May the Lord bless us and protect us all the days of our life!”
Finally, while talking about our human family (earthly family), let us not forget our spiritual family (heavenly family), about which the Author speaks in the Second Reading of today from the Letter to the Hebrews. God became en-fleshed in Jesus of Nazareth, the face of God among us. And through the death and resurrection and by the power of the Spirit, God gifts us with eternal life; and that gift of grace or God’s life makes us brothers and sisters to one another and sons and daughters of God. This is the Family of God and love, justice, peace, freedom, unity etc. are its values, and towards which all earthly families are ultimately directed into this one heavenly family.
During this Mass then let us pray - “MAY THE LORD BLESS US AND PROTECT US ALL THE DAYS OF OUR LIFE!” so that all of us may one day be members of the heavenly family – with God as our darling Father and we as his dear child.