Sunday, October 4, 2009

What God Has Joined, No Human Being Must Separate

Today's First Reading is taken from the Book of Genesis (2:18-24)

God saw that the man he had created needed a helper. A helper is not a servant or a slave, but someone who will work together with another person so that they both can accomplish a task that the first person cannot complete alone.

God had already created all sorts of animals: beasts of the fields and birds of the air. God did not give names to the animals, but allowed the man to do that. Yet none of the animals was a suitable helper to the man, because they lack one quality that human beings possess. God made man as an image of himself. Man has an immortal spirit, but animals do not. That is why man rules over the domestic animals, and uses them to make his work easier. They are the servants of man, but they are not the helpers that man needs.

So God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, God took one of the man’s ribs, and closed up the place with flesh. The God made a woman from the rib he had taken from the man, and brought her to him.
When the man saw the woman, he said:
“This is bone of my bones,
and flesh of my flesh:
she will be called ‘woman’
since she has been taken out of her man.”

This is why a man leaves his father and mother, and joins with his wife, and the two become one flesh.

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Today’s Second Reading is taken from the Letter to the Hebrews (2:9-11):

God’s promise for humanity, which we have seen in the First Reading, was not yet complete, until Jesus, the Son of God, took human form and flesh, and so “became lower than the angels for a little while.” His purpose in doing so was “to taste death for everyone” – to die a human death so that we might gain eternal life. By his death on the Cross, Jesus brings us into the family of God, making us the sons and daughters of His Heavenly Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call even the weakest and most sinful of us his brothers and sisters. As Augustine says, “God created us to forgive us”, and He sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that through him all the people of the world might be saved, and have eternal life.
(cf. John 3:17)

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Today’s Gospel is taken from the Gospel according to Mark (10:2-12):

The Pharisees came to Jesus and tested him with this question: “Does the Law allow a man to divorce his wife?” The question was not only a test, but a trap. If he said that divorce was wrong, they could say that he was contradicting the Law (Deuteronomy 24:1). But Jesus countered their question with another question: “What command did Moses give you?” They answered, “Moses allowed a man to write an official letter of divorce, and then he could send her away”, which is the text of that same verse of the Law of Moses.

Then Jesus said, “Moses gave you this commandment because of the hardness of your hearts. But that was not God’s purpose.” He then cited the text of Genesis 1:27: “From the beginning, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined with his wife.’ Then the two shall become one flesh.”

When they got back to the house, the disciples again questioned Jesus about this subject. Jesus told them, “If a man divorces his wife and marries someone else, he is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries someone else, she also is guilty of adultery.” Then he concluded his teaching: “What God has joined together, no one must set asunder.”

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“It is not good for the man to be alone.”
“If there were such as thing as loneliness which could no longer be penetrated and transformed by the word of another … then we would have real, total loneliness and frightfulness, what theology calls ‘Hell.’”. (Pope Benedict XVI).
“What God has joined, no human being must separate.”

The Sacrament of Marriage is Christ’s answer to Hell. If we have experienced a companionship that has moved our hearts to an otherwise impossible union with Jesus Christ, then our first task is to remain faithful to it with the same tenacity that little children cling to their parents.

MAGNIFICAT -- Introduction to the Mass for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Sarah in the tent said...

I think the uniqueness and specialness of Eve's creation points to the unique creation of Mary in the immaculate conception. Also, the sleep of Adam (who wakes to find himself 'married' to Eve) reminds me of the sleep of Abraham (who wakes to find himself in a covenant with God).

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Putting aside abusive marriages (which probably were NOT put together by God), it seems that promises today (such as the promise to remain faithful to each other) don't carry the same weight, or perhaps the ease of getting a divorce and the lack of any social stigma (in fact, it's almost a badge of honor these days) makes divorce the answer to difficulties when other answers might suffice better. My husband and I will celebrate 40 years in just a few months. It does not seem possible that so much time has passed. We have raised together 4 children, two of are seriously handicapped (one physically and multiply and one both physically and mentally), taken in three children belonging to other people (including a physically handicapped boy), and provided support to our son and daughter-in-law, who are now coping with two handicapped children of their own. I cannot tell you how many times we talked about divorce when the pressure was really high, but it never was the best answer -- and there was always that promise of "until death do we part." In reality, neither of us could have handled that set of children alone, but I have seen the birth of a handicapped child totally tear apart a marriage. I am proud of our son and daughter-in-law who are now raising two difficult children (one with a correctable birth defect and extremely gifted and one who is, as far as we know, one of only two children alive with her complex of defects). I know the stress on the marriage, but having a "helper" is also very, very important. As for the children, neither of our parents ever divorced, which set a good example for us, and the fact that we have stayed together through thick and thin sets a good example, I hope, for those three of our children who have married (two for 6 years and one for 11 eleven years). I would urge more people to ride those waves of emotional ups and downs and not ditch the surf board when the surf hits because being on top of the waves together is better than floundering around in the water alone! (Bad metaphor, but you get the picture...)

Oops! Long comment! Cut it if you like.

Fr. John L. Sullivan said...

Elizabeth, after reading your comment, I considered editing it for length. But the more I read, the more I knew that your story deserved to be told in full.

I've been a priest for only a couple of years less than you've been married, and a member of the Diocesan Tribunal for more than 30 years. I agree with your comment that more couples today than in the past choose the "easy way out" of the problems in their marriages: They choose divorce, rather than consulting clergy members, marriage counselors, and joining support groups, to seek solutions that would help them to better fulfill the commitments they made "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part."