27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Vinner)
CELEBRATING MARRIAGE AND FAMILY: “THE FACTORY OF HOPE”
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On this twenty seventh Sunday of the church’s ordinary time we rejoice in the wonderful gift and institution of both marriage and family. With just a couple of days away from the commencement of the Synod on the family (4-23 Oct, 2015), we are invited to reflect intimately on these very essential institutions. Both marriage and the family institution are founded on genuine love for the sustenance of humanity.
Unfortunately, in our time both are threatened by erring cultures to the detriment of continued human existence. It is important to note therefore that whatever threatens marriage and family life threatens love, unity and in fact human existence. While marriage plays the dual role of affection between couples and, the sustenance of humanity through procreation, the family is in the words of Pope Francis is “the Factory of hope.” So today we celebrate our belonging together as a family of God. Through love and sacrifice, Christ has made us his brothers and sisters. The love that we show for each other in our celebration will be largely dependent on the love and respect that exist in our own human families.
Today, both our first reading and the gospel strongly call us to uphold the sanctity of marriage. Both readings show us that marriage is a gift and act of God that must be cherished and protected. However, it is important to point out that it has its challenges which require the grace of God to overcome at times. Marital problems should be resolved mutually with godly intent and the readiness to forgive and change for good. Often times most couples think that the best way to resolve the problems associated with marriage is divorce. While this might seem good, it is important to point out that it is not the will of God for any marriage to be broken: “This is why a man must leave his father and mother, and join himself to his wife, and they become one body…So what God had united, man must not divide.”
Unfortunately most of those who succeed in getting a divorce do not get peace of mind. Also, some do not do better in their next marriage. This is why many can get married for up to four times and divorce for four times. This is simply to prove that divorce is not always the best solution to the problems of marriage. At the base of divorce is the inability for a couple to come to a compromise about how best to live which simply translates to lack of mercy, forgiveness, affection, tolerance, compassion, and mutual respect for each other. Also, there is selfishness Christ condemned in the Pharisees. Their greed and selfishness to exploit more women nourished their quest for divorce. Things are not different today.
However, it important to note that the increasing rate of divorce today is owing to the little value attached to marriage. When marriage is treated as a commodity rather than a Holy Sacrament of Love it is bound to fall. There is also, lack of maturity on the part of the intending couples. By maturity, one means spiritual, physical and psychological maturity that is required to enter this union. So it is important to realize that the relationship of marriage is quite different from a boy and girl friend relationship. When the foundation of marriage is not built on honesty, truthfulness, forgiveness, love and prayers, there is little chance that it will survive the great storm that usually blows in marriage.
Life messages: 1) The spouses need to work hard to create a good marriage: Marriage demands that they should become the right persons for each another. Marriage is a union based on committed sharing, and forgiving, sacrificial agape-love. It requires many mutual adjustments; much generosity and great good will to forgive and ask for forgiveness; sincere cooperation in training children and raising them as practising Catholic Christians; and daily strength from God obtained through personal and family prayers and punctual participation in the parish liturgy.
2) We need to reach out with Christian sympathy to the divorced and to troubled families. The parish community needs to accept them with respect, compassion, sensitivity, love and support, sharing the depth of their pain from a failed, or failing, marriage. The Church cannot sanction remarriage unless the previous marriage has been declared annulled by the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal. In the meantime, “…they should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to bring up their children in the Christian Faith”.
May God Bless us.
FR. S.Vinner HGN