[27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B,October 4, 2015 / Gen 2:18-24 / Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6 / Heb 2:9-11 / Mark 10:2-16]
A husband was talking to his wife. He said, “After putting up with you all these years I should be proclaimed a Saint.” “And I, a martyr!” responded his wife.
Today’s readings talk about the beautiful institution of marriage, where God deigned that “the two become one flesh” or as one modern author noted, bearing in mind that the usual fruit of love is life, “the two shall become one to become three.” And more than three. The fruit of love is life — that is where no artificial blocks are placed between love and life. Bonding usually results in babies except in a world where contraception means we want a bonding without babies and InVitroFertilization gives us babies without bonding.
In general, “it is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). After God had made woman, man made that famous exclamation of admiration and beauty: “This one is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” Maybe for the modern fan of Barbara Cartland, this does not sound too romantic. But it is the Hebrew equivalent of saying “Wow, she is gorgeous and the one for me!” Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh means someone who is intimately related to me, literally a part of my very being who I want to be with me as long as I am in existence. This introduces us into the notion of the marriage bond and covenant where the man and woman leave their mother and father and become one flesh.
Nowadays it seems quite easy to become one flesh with whomsoever you fancy. What a sad situation when what is presented as “normal” is in fact rather abnormal. Sex is sold as a commodity, precocious sexuality is encouraged – dear oh dear where are we going? Sexuality is a precious gift but also quite a powerful one. It is like a strong flowing river. If the river is directed in the right way it can generate much life, giving oxygen to fish and aquatic life, nourishing plants and trees served by it and providing invaluable water for local residents to drink or bathe with. When our sexuality is well-oriented it generates much life. However when the banks of the river break chaos ensues.
Here in Metro Manila the banks of the Marikina River burst. The river which previously gave life turned into a killer. Houses, cars and even human lives were swept away like leaves. Human sexuality, when it is disordered and not used according to its ultimate purpose, destroys lives. You only have to listen to those who have engaged in adultery to discover the chaos they have caused and the brokenness they feel.
The sacramental bond of marriage gives strength to the union between man and woman. Some do not believe in the sacrament anymore. Perhaps they have lost faith in love itself. But the sacramental bond gives strength and unity to the marriage. How beautiful the testimony of fruitful married love when it is correctly understood and lived out. As Jesus said, “Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Mutual respect, dialogue and of course forgiveness help so much. To be able to say “I am sorry.” Only three words… but not so easy to say sometimes.
Faithful married love is a concrete sign of God’s faithful love for the world of today. Faithful love is always fruitful. Even infertility is not a barrier to fruitfulness. True love will bear fruit in front of all obstacles. Like a couple I know who could not have children of their own but their love bears the fruit of joy in all they meet. Even the physical infertility could not stop them bearing fruit in the form of adopting a beautiful child. Truly it is selfishness and pride that often makes love sterile.
And children themselves can do much to help the environment in the household. Before when I was working as a doctor I would give material goods to my family as a sign of my love for them. But now as a missionary priest I have no money! They have to help me and they are so kind and generous. But what I give my family now is the love of Christ. This is a gift that is not just for Christmas but for the whole of eternity!
We close by praying for all the families in the world of today. I pray that all families can live out their wonderful mission to bring God’s life and love to the world. I know one family here in Manila and the whole family is dedicated to this mission. The dad is thinking how to bring more people to know Christ through golf and business, the mum helps out preaching the Word of God and their children are not merely concerned with the usual college student worries but are trying to reach out to many youth who are a bit lost. Hurray for the great Christian example of this family and may they inspire many more to do the same. Amen.