Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we are all presented through what we have heard in the readings from the Sacred Scriptures the very clear proclamation of the Lord to all of us regarding the matter of the sacred bond of marriage, as we heard how marriage is a sacred bond decreed by the Lord for those who have chosen to be one and united, as husband and wife, and blessed by God as an indissoluble union. This is a sacred union that should be held sacred by all, and should not be broken easily, by any circumstances or reasons.
This is why the Church has been very strict with the laws and rules regulating the possibility of divorce or annulment, as both involves breaking the destruction of this sacred bond of marriage, which is a Sacramental Union, the Sacrament of the Holy Matrimony and not just a mere ceremony as many in our world today tend to see it. The Church has very strict conditions regarding the matter of annulment, through which only the matrimonial bond can cease to exist, not because they had been broken, but rather because of the special considerations and conditions, the marriage was held to have never occurred in the first place.
On the contrary, consistent to what we have heard from the Sacred Scriptures today, from the Divine Law, that divorce, especially when contracted against the advice and the rules of the Church, and God’s Law, is considered as a grave sin. That is why those who have divorced and then remarried again had committed an even greater sin, that is the sin of adultery, because once the man and woman had been united in the sacred union blessed by God, as the Lord Himself said, no one could and should break that bond, and for man to go specifically against the will of God by remarrying after divorce, is to commit a great sin before God and mankind alike.
This is what the Lord had put before us through the Scriptures to remind us to value and to treat our marriage life, our institution of Holy Matrimony with great importance, as truly, the Holy Matrimony is the origin of the Christian family, and if the institution of sacred marriage falls apart or is considered easily expendable as what many people in this world thought, then the Christian families themselves will come under great threat and eventually this will harm not only those who were directly involved in the divorce or remarriage after divorce, but also the entire Church.
For it was from our Christian families that more good Christians would come to be, as good Christian parents who lived through their marriage commitments faithfully will inevitably also likely to raise good and faithful young Christians from their children. Should families be broken by divorce and remarriage, as evidences from the past few decades up to now have shown us, many of the children and the other family members ended up being lost, fell into sinful ways and falling out from the Church, amidst other troubles that they encountered through the experience.
And not only that, but faithful and fruitful Christian marriage is what often led to blossoming in vocations to the priesthood and also to religious and consecrated life. Take for example St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus, whose feast we have just celebrated two days ago on the first day of October. This holy saint also had holy parents, namely St. Louis Martin and St. Marie-Azelie Guerin, who also were made saints because of their very devout and pious upbringing of their children in the faith, and as role model for other parents in their love for one another and their children. All their five surviving daughters, including St. Therese, all joined consecrated life as religious sisters.
In our Scripture readings today, the Lord therefore wanted to remind us all that marriage is a very fundamental and important part of our Church life and in our calling for many of us to build up good and faithful Christian families. From the first reading we heard from the Book of Genesis about the account of the creation of Man, of how God made us man and woman, as He made Adam the first man, and then made the first woman, Eve, bone from Adam’s bone, and flesh from Adam’s flesh. Through this, as the Lord Himself said, that man and woman have been made to be complementary to each other, distinct and yet complementing each other.
This is also a reminder that by God’s Law and natural law, mankind are meant to unite, man and woman, to be one body, but in a more perfect union than merely conjugal and sexual relationship, or reproductive relationship, God Himself declared that man and woman in their union are united by God, blessed by Him and no longer separate. This means that the union between man and woman are divine by nature, a union not just between man and woman, but a contract that is made between them and God. This is why marriage is sacred, and through marriage, those who have embraced married life are called to be responsible to each other and through their children to raise them to be faithful to God as they are.
In our Gospel passage today then we heard of the confrontation between the Lord and the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees who asked Him about the legality of divorces contracted through the laws and rules of Moses. The Mosaic law decreed that divorce could be done should the man and woman sought the authorities and made a certificate of dismissal. However, in its original intention, as the Lord mentioned, the Law of Moses was already modified as it was to accommodate the stubbornness of the people who continued to disobey God and sinned against Him.
And in its implementation and development over the centuries that passed since the Law was revealed, the practice and application of the Law had been further modified, eased and changed to suit the needs of man, such that by the time of the Lord Jesus, it was relatively easy for someone to divorce his spouse. It was even corrupted and wicked in nature considering that people could pay sums of money or make arrangements with the authorities to allow them to legally divorce their spouses and remarry again, essentially loosening the moral dimension and definition of marriage.
Essentially, what the Lord Jesus was against and which He spoke out fervently against, was not those marriages that were truly invalid and could be annulled legally and rightfully, but rather the practices of the people in treating the marriage as a commodity and as something that is not sacred and to be protected. He spoke out against those who treat the relationship between man and woman as merely a physical satisfaction of the flesh, and which can be easily undone once they no longer satisfied each other. This is unfortunately the same thing that is also happening in our world today.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the world today is full of broken marriages and divorces, of broken families and even many more children who have been raised in families that were incomplete and bereft of true parental love. In the same manner, many people also treat marriage as no more than a convenience to suit themselves, to seek for wealth and pleasure, for physical appearances among other things. And once these no longer satisfied them, this is what resulted in infidelities in our married life, in adulterous relationships and improper moral behaviour amidst our communities.
This Sunday, as we listened to these words of the Scriptures, we are all called to reflect carefully on the matter of our Christian marriage, the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, that is now constantly under attack from those who seek to destroy the Church, that is none other than Satan and his fellow forces of evil. They tempt us with the temptations of worldly desires and pleasures, distorting the true meaning and importance of marriage and leading to infidelities and adultery that lead to breakups in marriages and families.
Those of us who have been called to the vocation of married life, let us all rediscover the sanctity of our marriages and the need for all of us to centre our married life and families in our focus towards God. We have to resist the many temptations of the evil ones who are actively trying to lead us astray into the path of sin. We have to control ourselves and understand that love is something that is sacred and blessed by God, and not lust or the fulfilment of the desire of the flesh. We have to sanctify our marriage, and the best way to do it is by praying together, and celebrating our faith together, through the celebration of the Sacraments in the Holy Mass.
If God is at the centre of our families and is present in our marriage, then it will be difficult for anyone to break up our union, as we allow God to strengthen us and our unity, and as long as we place our foundation, our family’s bedrock on Him, and live faithfully in obedience to His Law and commandments, while we may encounter difficulties and challenges as a married couple and family, we will be far more likely to succeed in resisting the pressures and temptations that can break our families apart.
We should also spend quality time with each other in our families, for no families can stay together unless they grow in their relationships, which requires commitment of time and effort. This may be difficult to accomplish at times, due to our work commitments and other matters that often take up much of our time, but can we not at least put the effort to do this? Just as we need to spend some time with God to grow in our relationship with Him, the same applies to our families as well. A family whose members do not communicate with each other, or spend at least some time to do things together, will not end up well and may easily be broken apart, as many evidences all around us have shown.
And to all of us who are contemplating marriage, let us all carefully discern our path towards marriage, and realise that marriage is not something that is trivial, but rather one that requires proper discernment and careful considerations, as well as proper journey and development, so that we will not end up like the millions of broken marriages and families out there, many of which happened because of impulsive decisions that those involved would come to realise only much too late afterwards. We have to communicate and build dialogues, and allow relationships to develop carefully and properly, and not rush to decisions unlike what many have done out there and failed.
Let us all protect the sanctity of our marriage, our Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, and realise that as Christians, those of us who have responded to God’s call for us to build these sacred unions from which loving Christian families can be formed, we have the sacred duty to build up enduring, loving and faithful Christian families, in raising our children properly in the faith, and in living our faith together that we may inspire each other and also become inspirations to other families out there, on what our Christian marriages and families ought to be like.
Remember, brothers and sisters, that our families are the bedrock and pillars of the Church, as our community is based on our Christian families and their success. We have to resist the attacks of the evil ones who are trying to undermine the Church by attacking our family values and by striking at the sanctity and indissolubility of our sacred unions. Let us not be deceived and let us entrust our families and our marriages to God, and ask Him to strengthen each and every one of us so that we may ever persevere in faith, as loving Christian couples, as husbands and wives, as parents and as members of God’s Holy Church.
May God bless our families and our sacred bond of the Holy Matrimony, and may He guide us in our journey of love and faith, that each and every one of us, especially those who have married and built up families, may be role models to one another, in how we live our Christian lives with true and genuine faith, now and always. Amen.