A reflection from Sunday, October 4th:
We hear the Scriptures open today with God’s creation of humanity, forming man from the dust of the ground, and then woman from the rib of man. On the surface we may just look at this story as simply what it is, the story of creation, however there is one underlying theme that really sums up what is to come to fruition in God’s plan and also connects it to our Gospel message today.
This theme is that man was created for intimacy, for a deeper union. This scripture from Genesis show us of this:
“After the man had given names to all the animals, there was still not found a helper as his partner, So God created woman, and the man proclaimed, ‘This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.’” And the verse goes on to say that, “…a man clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
This speaks of a deep intimacy, that 2 separate people would become one flesh.
This leads us in to the Gospel, as we hear the Pharisees testing Jesus by asking him if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife. We must not take Jesus’ words lightly, as he speaks of the gravity of divorce. He highlights how the Pharisees and many men of his time had rejected God’s fundamental teaching on marriage, “ascribing it to their hearts, that had become hardened by sin, lack of forgiveness, and rejection of God’s plan.”
Jesus announces a restoration, a return, to God’s original plan, “From the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh… Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” God’s plan is clear, leaving no room for misinterpretation.
“Marriage has a reality beyond what mere humans bring to it or say of it. Marriage is a work of God; it has a reality and an existence that flows from God’s work, not man’s. “And any attempts to redefine or alter marriage as God has set it forth separates us from Him and His reality. This is where I believe the gravity lies.
So let’s take our reflection a step further, reading between the lines per se, going back to the underlying theme; we are created for intimacy, and a deep union.
Marriage, in this life, is meant to foreshadow heaven where, for all eternity, we will celebrate the marriage of Christ and the Church. This is the deepest desire of the human heart; to live in the eternal bliss of communion with God himself. As wonderful as marriage, and marital intimacy, can be in this life it’s only a sign, a foretaste, and a sacrament of what is to come.
Using this spousal image as an analogy, we can say that God’s plan for all eternity is to “marry” us.
Christ left his Father in heaven. He left the home of his mother on earth to give up his body for his bride, so that we might become “one flesh” with him and be taken up into the life of the Trinity for all eternity.
So if we look back now at Jesus rebuttal and seriousness towards the Pharisees and his disciples we can hopefully see his perspective; God has made us for union and intimacy ultimately with Himself, has revealed his intimate love for us by sending us His Son, and has foreshadowed it by the sacrament and the union of marriage.
So when we look at divorce it is, on a similar level, a denying of the sacredness of this greater union which we were eternally made for. Indeed many have tried and failed, while others have succeeded, to attain the vision of marriage that the Lord teaches. So as we reflect on these profound truths let us be reminded, and strengthened, by the closing verse of the Gospel today. Whatever our own failures are or have been. However we have fallen short or felt short-changed, or been left feeling broken and empty, we need to come to the Lord with a child-like trust, to seek His help.
His plan and his truth remain, and we must announce it and celebrate it, no matter what. God is calling us to himself, to an eternal intimacy, by the visible and tangible sign of marriage. Are we open to Him, as little children, “for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.”
Scripture readings for reflection:
Genesis 2.7, 15, 18-24