October 3, 2009

In the Beginning

27th Sunday in Ordinary Times
Mark 10: 2-16 “What God has joined together, no human being must separate”

The sunset in Manila Bay is a beauty to behold; but the sight of an old couple holding each others’ hand as they watch the sunset is more consoling and uplifting to behold!

Our gospel for today is a foretaste of what’s happening now. More and more people are questioning the indissolubility of Catholic marriage vows. They don’t see the practicality and wisdom of couple staying together until death when marriage turns sour. They want a quick fix and divorce is the ultimate remedy to all marital problems. Fast, simple and easy.

But our gospel for today reminds us of God’s grand plan. His intention from the very beginning is a permanent union: “The two shall become one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” (Mark 10:8-9). Jesus even scolded the Pharisees and the Jews when he said that Moses was forced to allow divorce because of hardness of their hearts. They did not want to obey God’s plan.

One of the things that struck me: How come some couples who are happily married for many years will suddenly want a divorce or legal separation? What went wrong? Who are to blame, when at the beginning of their married life, they mutually agreed to live together for better or for worse? Somewhere along the way, they lost their selfless love to one another. When misunderstanding, open-ended argument, unexpressed resentment, and unresolved issues start to creep in, the foundation of married life “one flesh” is severely shaken. When I don’t see the “I in You” and the “You in Me,” selfishness creeps in. And when selfishness creeps in, I start to disengage from my vows of being in “one flesh” with my partner.

Marriage for God means undivided and unconditional loyalty and union of hearts at all times, for better or for worst. Marriage is not a question of "What's in it for me?" But Jesus wants a married couple to ask each other, "What's in it for us?"

Some marriages failed not because they married the wrong persons, but because they allowed their love to die a natural death because of distrust, hatred and non-forgiveness. Soon enough, they lost their desire to save it. They simply break their promise “to be one heart and one soul from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

Hardness of heart and selfishness are the main culprit for marriage break-up. If only they treat each other the way they treat themselves, their marriages will become more attractively beautiful, life-giving and emotionally stable.

Each time I preside a marriage rite, I take extra effort to remind the couple to remember their marriage day, especially when they have misgivings, to remind themselves of their “in the beginning” moments - where they genuinely and freely expressed their love to each other and promised to live together “for better or for worse, till death do us part.” To file a divorce or seek legal separation without exhausting all possible solutions to fix your marriage is to implicitly tell everybody that your vows is nothing but a big joke. In the beginning, you know it was not a joke. In the beginning, when you and your partner genuinely fell in love and mutually agreed to tie the knots, you know its forever.

In marriage, both husband and wife must say "I will do more than belong, I will participate. I will do more than care, I will help. I will do more than believe, I will practice. I will do more than be fair, I will be kind. I will do more than be friendly, I will be a friend. I will do more than forgive, I will love." - Annonymous

- Wilfredo M. Samson,SJ / St.Joseph Chapel, Zamboanga City/ October 4, 2009

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