27th Sunday - Homily
Today’s Gospel is a tough Gospel. The Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus on the question of divorce. So, Jesus comes right out and boldly says that divorce is not from God, but from man’s hardness of heart. Many people have asked me over the years why the Church doesn’t recognize divorce. I quote this passage where Jesus says that if a married person gets a divorce and then marries again, he commits adultery. The Church does not recognize divorce God does not recognize divorce. Divorce is not part of God’s law and plan for married couples.
But, it is also a beautiful Gospel. Jesus raises marriage to the level of a sacrament. He says that “what God has joined together, no human being must separate”. It is significant that he also reiterates what the Book of Genesis tells us: that marriage has existed since the beginning of the world. He says that marriage is when a man and a woman become one flesh, and recognizes that this is what God brings about. It has always been God’s Plan for a husband and wife to become one in marriage, and that He has joined them together.
Whenever this happens…when a baptized man and baptized woman promise their love to each other…when they give their consent to love, honor, and serve the other in the presence of a priest or deacon and at least two witnesses in a Church…that is when they become one flesh in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. And, when they live out this marital love, they have a bond that cannot be broken. God has joined them together, and no court or state or human being can separate them. They now have a holy relationship. Their union is a sacred thing. Marriage is a sacred act; it is one of the most sacred institutions in the world.
Marriage, then, is a calling from God. It is a vocation. We have so many examples in our great parish of couples who have heard God’s Call to be married and continue to live it out every day with His help. Their love for each other has produced tremendous fruits; one of the greatest fruits of marital love is children. They not only bring new life into the world, but they bring their little ones to Christ as He commands in this Gospel. They give the example of how to treat marriage with great respect because it is such a sacred thing.
So, for our teens and young adults whom God is calling to marriage, your preparation starts now. God has someone very special in store for you in the future. He and the person want you to save yourself for them… and to treat that big day with great respect. It will be awesome if you do! I saw an example of this last weekend at a wedding of a young couple. They treated marriage and their wedding day with respect and reverence, and they were so happy that they did it the right way. It was awesome! God’s Plan is for most of you to enjoy that same happiness in the sacrament of marriage.
There are many similarities between the Sacrament of Marriage and the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament. When we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, we become one flesh with Him as a husband and wife become one flesh. Jesus says ‘this is my body’. The man essentially says to the woman, ‘this is my body…this is my life…this is my love…given for you’. And, the woman says the same to him. Also, the Eucharist is a preview to the great wedding feast in the Kingdom of Heaven where we will be one with God for all eternity.
In a very real way, then, we become one with Christ in the Eucharist. We become one with his love, his life, his peace, his joy. Then, we take his love to those we meet. He has such a great love for each one of us…an intense love…a burning love. May each of you know his love this week.