(Audio recorded live, 3 October 2021)
Gn. 2:18-24; Ps. 128; Heb. 2:9-11; Mk. 10:2-12
Today’s Scriptures focus on the institution of Holy Matrimony. We hear in the Book of Genesis that from the very beginning, the Creator knew it was not good for the man to be alone. And yet, while the animals were created and entrusted to the man, none proved to be a suitable partner for the man. In such a relationship, of man and beast, it was inevitable that one was superior to the other and there could be no real sense of communion, however, when the Lord created the woman, the man says, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” In other words, the man, looking into the eyes of the woman, saw in her the same spirit that once breathed life into himself. And as they recognized this about each other they formed the first marriage of man and woman, which is why when future generations find that special mate, they no longer cling to their parents, but to one another.
Jesus is tested by the Pharisees about the permanence of this institution ordained by God. They ask if it is lawful for a husband to divorce his wife, which was permitted by Moses. The Pharisees are testing Jesus’ orthodoxy, but to appreciate the significance of this question, we need to consult Moses.
The Law of God, namely, the Ten Commandments, did not provide a commandment for divorce. It simply says: Thou shalt not commit adultery. But, out of the hardness of the people’s hearts, Moses allowed divorce as a concessionary law (lower case ‘l’). Is such a law a divine or human law? The Ten Commandments are clearly divine, however, this latter concession is something else. It is an exception to God’s Law (capital ‘L’).
Jesus offers a correct interpretation of God’s Law. He quotes the passage we heard from the Book of Genesis, then adds, “Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Jesus shows how the institution of matrimony is sacred, not only because of the man and woman bound together in love, but also because the love they share—that recognition of the divine spirit in each of them—is also an image of the love of God.
Jesus teaches us to let our ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’ and our ‘no’ mean ‘no.’ He shows us the importance of saying ‘yes’ to the love of God. In the Letter to the Hebrews, we heard of the extent to which God has gone to express his love for us. “He ‘for a little while’ was made ‘lower than the angels,’ that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” The sacrifice of Jesus, then, is the perfect sign of the Father’s love for the Son and the Son’s love for the Father. This sacrifice is whole and entire, from Jesus’ own Sacred Heart to the will of the Father. He therefore models for all the perfect sign of love in every relationship: A total gift of self.
Those living the vocation of Holy Matrimony participate, in their own way, in the sacrifice of Christ. They are completely given, one to the other, such that their love may be a sign of God’s love in the world. We see this in the way they love each other, support each other, serve one another. We see it also through the procreation and education of offspring. Their children are the fruit of their love and cooperation with God’s ongoing act of creation. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.
And so, today we celebrate the institution of Holy Matrimony, the many husbands and wives who show forth the love of God. We pray for them that they may enjoy the fruits of the love that brought them together, whether that be 1 year or more. As we prepare to celebrate the Eucharist, the marriage of the divine and the human in our Lord Jesus Christ, may we be strengthened by the bonds that keep us all united in the one faith, one baptism, one Lord of all.