Liturgical Colour : Green or White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today Christ told us about the importance and sanctity of marriage, as something not merely a legal thing, nor it is merely a thing of this world, because marriage is a bond between man and woman, united and sealed by God Himself, and no man can divide or break this bond. That is because this bond is holy, and indeed, is one of the Seven Sacraments in the Church, that is the Sacrament of Marriage.
God made man from dust, and that was Adam, the first man. From his own flesh, bone, and blood, God created woman, Eve, the first woman. Because of that, man naturally needs woman, and God gave man to woman and vice versa. When man and woman come together, they become perfect, because in the beginning they share one another’s flesh and blood. God who created this world and all of us, had joined man and woman, in the sacred bond that made them perfect in one another, and allow them to multiply with the gift of children, to fill the earth and be prosperous, as God had commanded man to do after He created him. They are supposed to live in perfect happiness and joy for eternity, with God, in the presence of God forever.
But when mankind disobeyed the Lord and sinned against Him, they were torn away from the Lord. They were torn away because of their disobedience. And because of our sins, we should have deserved death and destruction. We have been corrupted and made unworthy of the Lord. The Lord our God loves us, and He did not want us to suffer destruction because of our faults. That was why He chose to intervene from time to time in order to bring us back to Him.
Through sin and evil, the purity of our relationship with one another had been made impure. We had been infected with the sin of lust, greed, and discord. These had corrupted the original intent the Lord had for us. We lust for pleasure and turn ourselves from the path of righteousness. In our lust and greed, we forgot the holiness and sanctity in which the bond we have between us, specifically the bonds between husband and their wives had been forged, that no man or woman should divide or ever come in between the two whom the Lord had sealed in holy matrimony.
The Lord therefore sent His help to us, to His people, through the leaders and prophets He had sent them throughout the ages past. And finally, He sent His own Son, our Lord Jesus, the Son of God, to be with us and become the source of our salvation, and also our purification and sanctification. Yes, brethren, for the Lord had become one of us, in flesh and blood, that through His incarnation, we are bound to Him in the holy bond much like the holy bond of matrimony between husband and wife as I had mentioned earlier on.
Yes, we belong to Christ and Christ belong to us, and through that same bond He had forged with us, He channeled all of our faults, our sins, and our defilements towards Him, that He may bear all of them, with great faith and courage, during His Passion, His suffering and path to the completion of His mission of salvation. He died on the cross, so that we who are bound to Christ, may also die to ourselves, to our old and sinful selves, and be reborn into a new life, a life of new beginnings, and a life in which holiness can emerge, from the old self of sin.
Through Christ’s resurrection from the dead, we too are all promised and offered the new life in Christ, not just any life, but eternal life in happiness in the presence of God. He has offered us this, and if we accept it, we will be saved. Yes, brethren, our Lord truly loves us and cares for us, that He gave us His only Son, Jesus, not only as our Saviour, but also as our Teacher, the One who reminds all of us of the need to love God and follow His will and His words.
Yes, in the Gospel today, Christ reminds the people the importance and sanctity of marriage, of the holy union between man and woman, that He reiterates the divine and holy nature of such union, that no power in heaven or on earth may disturb or dissolve. However, it is sad indeed that throughout history, too many times the people of God had disobeyed this ordinance, and hence sinned against the Lord and faced condemnation for their adulterous behaviour.
If we ask then, why do so many people commit adultery, by dissolving that holy union and marrying again after divorce? That is because, we do not commit our hundred percent attention and effort into maintaining the health and viability of the holy union, and therefore, when temptation comes, our union, that lacks strong and true love maintaining it, easily dissolves, by the wickedness of our own minds and our hearts, poisoned by lust and our love for worldly pleasures, especially dangerous nowadays, because such temptations are essentially everywhere around us.
Today, brothers and sisters in Christ, we commemorate the feast of a saint, one who played a great role in the salvation of many. Yes, that is because this saint is none other than St. Stephen of Hungary, which history knew as King Stephen I Arpad, the first King of Hungary, who converted into the faith, and brought his entire people, his entire nation, into God’s holy Church. He is also well known as the Christian King, because of his dedication to the faith and the Church of God, in ensuring that the faith reached all the peoples within the four corners of his kingdom.
The people of Hungary were known once as the Magyars, the pagan and ferocious nomadic barbarians who raided much of central Europe in the ninth and tenth century, a century before the time of St. Stephen’s rule as King. St. Stephen united the people through his rule as king, and he brought his people before the Lord into their salvation. You see, brothers and sisters in Christ, just as the Lord is united to His people, and man in united with his wife, a king and a ruler is also bound to the land and to his people, in the same way as a shepherd is bound to his sheep. He brought Christ to his own nation and opened the door of salvation to his people.
St. Stephen did many works that become the foundation of both his nation of Hungary, and also the Church, whom he greatly strengthened during his reign by ceaseless attempts to bring God to those who still close their hearts against Him. His rule of Hungary as king was filled with justice and benevolence, and he ruled his people with the grace of God and with God’s wisdom. Truly, he is an example to all of us Christians, in his dedication to the faith, to God, and to the people he is bound to in a sacred bond of kingship.
And ultimately, we must not forget that indeed, Christ Himself mentioned about the role of a special group of people, that had been appointed and chosen by God as the shepherds of His people, a special role of complete and total dedication to God and His people. Yes, brethren, it is about the celibacy of our priests and those in the religious life. God had chosen them and taken them away from the world, and taken to be the brides of our Lord.
Yes, that is why our priests and our religious brothers and sisters do not marry, precisely because they are ‘married’ first to the Lord Himself, and secondly, to the people of God, all of us, whom they serve. And if anyone contest why our priests do not marry and seemingly contradict the Lord’s command that man and woman be united as one in sacred bond of matrimony, we can then say that, yes, they are married indeed, in a sacred bond with our God Himself, and with all of us, the sheep of the flock of God, and the priests as our shepherds, bonded to us in a sacred and inviolable bond of love, just as the Lord Himself belongs to us and we belong to the Lord.
They need our prayers, brothers and sisters in Christ, because their works and responsibilities are numerous and they have many room for errors. Remember that they are also humans like us. They need our prayer, our help, and our support. They have given up marriage with another in order to be in union with us and with God, serving a greater purpose. They have given up having families of their own, that they can now be with all of us in one big family of the Church.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, from today on, let us play our respective parts in the Church, to be good and responsible in all our dealings and actions, and to follow the Lord’s will and commandments at all times. Let those who are married, renew their commitments to one another, recalling the promise they made before the Lord, and maintain the holiness of their lives and their union at all times, building up love in their union, that their marriage will be truly blessed. And for our leaders who are ‘bonded’ with us their people, may they also realise the commitment they have to us, and the dedication that they need to put in into their service.
May the Lord bless all of us, all our priests as well today, that we all may remain committed in our own vocations in life, that we will always walk in the ways of the Lord and remain in His love. God be with all of us. Amen.