27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - B
There is an ancient Mediterranean legend that says in the beginning man and woman were actually one person who shared one body. According to this legend after they sinned, God punished them by dividing their body into two, one half for the man and the other half for the woman. They would only again be complete once they were united as one body. The only way this could happen was through marriage.
Jesus in our gospel this Sunday teaches the meaning and purpose of marriage: it is a covenant between a man and woman which is ordered toward the goodness of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring. The teaching took place when the Pharisees asked Jesus a question about divorce.
God being the author of marriage intended it as a vocation which is intrinsic to the very nature of humanity. Because it is a vocation, it is fundamentally centered on love. This mutual love between a man and a woman is a reflection of God’s absolute and unfailing love for humanity. The book of Genesis in the first reading attests to the indissolubility of marriage from the very beginning of time: that man leaves his mother and father and becomes attached to his wife and the two become one flesh. Jesus affirms it when he said: "What God has united, human beings must not divide." Because of the permanence of marriage, Jesus in the gospel took a strong stand against divorce. It is not just based on a legalistic approach when the children suffer and it then jeopardizes their future happiness nor on the presence of a law that forbids or allows divorce. Rather as the author of marriage, God intended marriage to be a permanent and lasting relationship between a man and a woman.
God saw in the beginning that man was not complete so He created the woman. It is through this marital union that one complements the other thereby completing each other’s incompleteness. In marital sex, one gives himself/herself to the other completely, exclusively and forever. When this happens they really become one flesh. Because of human failure, certain situations are far from ideal like re-marriage after separation and divorce which the Church deals with compassionately.
From this union based on love comes the secondary purpose of marriage which is the procreation and education of offspring. It is the fruit of love when given unselfishly. To safeguard this purpose, the Church is against the deliberate obstruction of life through artificial birth control and direct abortion which are contrary to the moral law. Children are not an intrusion on married life but rather the completion of its mission which is expressed in joy. For married couples who are unable to have children, their witness of love to each other can also be profoundly life-giving to the Church and to the community.
Because marriage is a sacrament, it is geared towards the sanctification of man and woman through their married life. It is a life that is centered in God; in reality it is God who completes and blesses the union. That is why it is imperative that a man and a woman who love each other should be united by a sacred bond that can only be given through the Church. With this blessing, they will form a family, be it naturally or through adoption. This family is called the domestic church because it is the miniature version of the whole Church
Let us safeguard the unity and sanctity of marriage as God intended it to be.