for Sunday, October 4, 2015
It is Jesus Himself who calls us to reflect on the marriage and on the relationships between people. It is not an easy topic today when some countries have legalized many types of marriage and others have penalized the same types of marriage. For us Christians it is important to remember that what a civil state does never affects our own understanding of the Lord and His teachings. We follow the Lord Jesus, not the teachings of civil states.
The teaching of the Catholic Church at present is very clear and direct. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church it states: The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.
This understanding of marriage, of the Sacrament of Matrimony, now goes again the laws of the United States and of many countries, but is completely in accord with the laws of many other countries. This view of marriage is the one supported by the Scriptures—there is no doubt about that. There is no mention at all in the Scriptures of any other way of thinking of marriage. So let us reflect on what our readings today tell us.
The first reading is from the Book of Genesis and gives an account of the creation of woman. We all should know that there are two accounts in Scripture of the creation of woman. This one, in which the woman is taken from man, and the other one in which both are created equally in the image and likeness of God. In both cases, the two are complementary to one another and come together to form a union in the presence of the Lord who created them.
The Gospel of Mark today deals with the problem of divorce. Just as in the past, Moises allowed for divorce, there are some today who would also allow for divorce. This is a difficult challenge, especially in the light of the words of Jesus in the Gospel today.
These two readings, one from Genesis and one from the Gospel of Mark, put before us an ideal of marriage which has been taken for granted for centuries but which is always challenged at the level of practical experience. What are we to do about those who have divorced? What are we to do about those with same-sex attraction. The first question has been there through all of the centuries since the time of Christ. The second question became a strong focus more in our own time. Both are questions which challenge the Christian community.
Perhaps in the past both of these groups were shunned by Church members in some sort of righteous indignation and in a way that rarely reflected any Christian love. Today, many would want us to give an answer which would make each of these groups feel better about themselves. What seems to be needed, however, is for Christians to live the ideal, not preach about it and not condemn others who either cannot or will not work towards the ideal.
The basic call to follow Christ comes to others best by attraction. You and I can begin to follow the Lord in such a way that others are attracted to follow Him. So we need not spend time so much speaking about the ideal or in speaking about others who may not seek to live the idea. Rather, let us live in the Lord and radiate His love and in that way draw others to the Lord.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Genesis 2.7ab, 8b, 18-24
Second Reading: Hebrews 2.9-11
Gospel: Mark 10.2-16
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: