Sunday, 7 October 2018 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s readings from the Scripture, we are reminded of the gift of blessings from God, in the form of holy matrimony, which God had decreed from the moment that He created us mankind, man and woman, to complement each other and to be united with one another in a holy union blessed by God. This union was mentioned in the first reading we have today, in the Book of Genesis.

The Lord created mankind first with a man, Adam, who was all alone among his race, while God created all creatures male and female, according to their natures. And that was why, God created a woman, Eve, who was taken from the man, in a very symbolic act of taking the bone and the flesh from Adam when he was in a deep sleep, and God made woman out of man. Regardless whether it was how God actually created us mankind, the truth and reality remains that God made us man and woman.

And the act of taking the bone and the flesh from Adam is in fact God’s reminder for us that we were created to be for one another, to share the love that God has given us, and to complement each other. And our relationship and union, in the sacred bond of matrimony, between a man and a woman, is in fact a reflection and imitation of God’s own perfect union of love, which is present in the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

Through the sacred bond of matrimony, God also blesses us with children, as His gifts of love for us, to be fruitful and bountiful just as He has commanded us man at the beginning of creation, and to multiply and to fill the earth with our kind. This was the foundation of families and the foundation of our human communities, and indeed, the foundation of our faith and our Church.

For all of us have been born into this world as a small, little baby, each one of us, growing up in a family, where God’s love was given to us through our fathers and our mothers. And it is in the family that all of us learn what it truly means to be human beings, to be those whom the Lord has given intellect, wisdom and the ability to survive in this world. Without our families, then our human society will eventually perish and be destroyed.

Similarly, the family is the foundation and the core part of our Church and faith, as it is through the family that the faith, which has been preserved by the Church, is imparted at the beginning to the small children, baptised and raised in good faith by their parents. If the children were not raised well by their parents, ultimately, not only that they will likely lose faith, but they will also grow to be people who are without love in their hearts, capable of committing all sorts of wickedness and atrocities.

Unfortunately, brothers and sisters in Christ, the reality is such that, the foundation of our family and marriage life has always been shaken very badly right from the beginning of time. Throughout the Bible, in the Old Testament and even in the New Testament, there had been cases when the people who have agreed to be joined in blessed union of matrimony, sought instead to break that bond for various reasons, that is divorce.

First of all, we must understand that the Church does allow for certain exceptional cases where the marriage was not consummated and with various other valid considerations and conditions where the Church decided that the couple can be granted an annulment. An annulment is different from the case of divorce, in that the marriage was considered to have never taken place at all in the eyes of God and the Church.

However, what the Lord Jesus was referring to, in our Gospel passage today, when the Pharisees looked for Him and tried to test Him on the matter of marriage and divorce, was that of validly contracted marriages and unions which were deliberately sought to be broken by the desires of man. And the Pharisees argued that they were allowed to divorce as according to the Law of Moses, as long as settlement has been made and documents have been signed and agreed on, the marriage can be dissolved easily.

But God made it very clear to the people, that the matter of marriage is in fact not just a formality, which can be easily overwritten and overridden by the statutes of human laws, customs and practices. Instead, as mentioned, the bond of marriage is a matter of divine law, a divine union blessed by none other than God, Who has decreed that a man and a woman are united in the same love that unites the Holy Trinity together, and what He has united, no man should divide.

This, in truth, is the foundation of our marriages and families, and why we should indeed put a lot of attention to them. The devil knows this as well, and that is why, he is always on the offensive, trying to strike at us, God’s children, in our marriage and family life, that by destroying this important unit and foundation of our Church and faith, he can lure more souls into the damnation in hell.

In many cases of divorce, it was caused by our human frailty and inability to resist the temptation of the pleasures of the flesh, as well as other desires. Many people fell into adultery because of their inability to resist the temptations of their flesh, which are constantly persuading them to turn away from the Lord’s path and into the path of debauchery and unfaithfulness. Many have not been faithful to their respective spouses, and this resulted in the breaking away of families.

And when we become divided, we end up losing our faith, and the children are also badly and negatively affected. The devil then has a great time trying to pull us into ever deeper trap of his temptations and false promises of pleasure, of glory, of material goods and other things that have become thorns in the body of our family and marriage. We find it hard to restrain the temptation to sexual pleasures, to materialism and many more things that made us to desire separation and ending of the sacred bond of matrimony.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, at the same time, we need to realise that there are just a lot of things that each one of us as Christians can contribute to help all those who are troubled in their family and marriage life. Even there may be those who are in our midst, and among those whom we know, that are currently suffering in their family and marriage. Are we then going to ignore them should they come to us seeking help, advice or assistance? Or are we going to lend them a listening ear and to extend our hands to help wherever possible?

Today, all of us also celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, on the seventh day of October every year. This feast was once also known as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, commemorated after the great victory of the Christian army and forces at the Battle of Lepanto against the enemies of Christ and His Church. At that time, the enemies of the Lord and His Church mustered a massive and overwhelmingly powerful forces, that threatened the very existence of Christendom, but through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, the Christian forces managed to obtain a decisive victory.

The significance of that event and this celebration then goes beyond just the historical importance of that victory to the survival of Christendom and the Christian faith as we know it. All of us must realise that we are in a constant battle, every single day and every single moments of our lives, against the devil and all of his evil forces seeking our downfall and damnation. He is the source of all of our troubles, including all the current forces and efforts aimed at the dismantling of our institution of sacred matrimony and the family.

That is why, at this moment, it is all the more important that we seek for necessary help in order to prevent us from falling into the temptations and into threat of eternal damnation. And the Lord has provided us a very good source of help, in His beloved mother, Mary, and through the rosary which she has introduced to us, through St. Dominic, and many other saints, through whom she revealed to us the rosary as a means by which we can come closer to God.

Why is that so? That is because the rosary is a series of prayers, which prominently involved the Hail Mary, a prayer invoking the prayers from Mary, the Blessed Mother of Our God, and also extolling the virtues of her life. Far from being a meaningless and repetitive prayer as many of its opponents and detractors often claimed, the rosary is a very effective weapon in our battle of life, against the forces of evil.

Many of us do not realise that we have often been lacking in our prayer life and in our spiritual development. And through the rosary, we are in fact reminded of the need to reorientate our lives to the Lord, by following the examples and the inspiration of Mary, the Mother of God, who is the perfect disciple and follower of God, in how she obeyed the Lord and put her trust in Him so completely, allowing God to do His wonderful works through her.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all keep the sanctity of both our married life and family life, by putting God at the centre of our lives, by devoting ourselves more to His mother, Mary, that in this month of October, month of the Holy Rosary, we should spend time to pray together, as a family, together between husband and wife, and the children, asking for the intercession of Mary, that she will continue to pray for our sake and ask her Son to help us in our battle against evil.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us sinners and help us that we may imitate your examples in faith, in your obedience and devotion to your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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