Sunday, October 4, 2015

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Sanctity of Marriage

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 Today's readings touch upon the family; specifically marriage, divorce and children.

In the first reading, we read from the account of creation found in Genesis.  God sees that man or Adam is alone and has no suitable partner. Adam is a unique creation. All living creatures come "out of the ground" which fits with the theory of evolution well (Genesis 1:1, Genesis 3:19). Adam comes from the same matter the Earth, plants and non-human animals come from, but he has something different.  This is the breath of God (ruah), the soul (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Matthew 10:28, Genesis 2:7). This soul makes man sentient, capable of intelligence, morality, emotions and so forth. He is like a "god" but not like God (Psalm 8:5). Genesis makes it clear that God is the creator and man cooperates with God by naming the creatures in creation and caring from them. However, man despite being an "animal" as well is not compatible with other non-human animals (Leviticus 18:23). God creates a partner for man while he is in a deep sleep. I see this "deep sleep" as man setting aside himself to accept God's will via the love and partnership of his partner; this sleep is God preparing man (Isaiah 29:10).  This partner God creates comes from a rib.  Now this is of course allegorical language. The "rib" is meant to convey the message that Adam and his partner are equal and love since the rib is close to the heart (Proverbs 22:2, Acts 17:26, Romans 2:11, Galatians 3:28). They stand rib cage by rib care or side by side.  The use of a rib also shows that both Adam and his partner are ONE; of one flesh. This partner is called "woman." God made this woman and named her Eve.  There was no Adam or Steve, no Eve and Eva, only Adam and Eve.  Two distinct genders of the same species. This union of Adam and Eve, man and woman constitutes a union blessed by God.  The two become one flesh that cannot be separated.  This brings us to the Psalm which asks God to bless us all the days of our lives.

We must ask God to bless us every day, especially if we are in a married situation (Psalm 67).  I will explain this in my section on the Gospel reading. As the responsorial Psalm states, we must always walk in God's ways (Deuteronomy 5:33).  Our ways are paths full of cracked sidewalks, sinkholes and quicksand that stifle us, so to speak (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25). With God's blessing, we will have our harvests, growing and united families.  As Blessed Mother Teresa used to say constantly, "The family that prays together, stays together." This is why asking God to bless us is important. Prayer reminds us that we need of God (James 4:10). We cannot live life alone without God.  Despite our abilities, we are still "lower than the angels" as the second reading describes.

In the second reading, we read of Jesus who was made "for a little while, lower than the angels."  What does this mean?  Is Jesus some weak demi-god like the mythological being Hercules?  Not at all.  Here the passage is referring to Jesus' human nature. Remember, Jesus has one personhood and two natures: divine & human.  Despite being God, Jesus' body was truly human in all things except sin (Philippians 2, Hebrews 4:12).  It got old, it grew, it got dirty, it got hurt, it got cold and hot.  Jesus did everything we do today whether it is eating, drinking, walking, taking baths and yes, using the bathroom.  He was one of us!  This is why He is described as being "lower than the angels."  How lower?  Well, due to our capacity to expire or die. We all die. This is part of being human and possibly the main thing that distinguishes us from angels. Angels are pure spirits, they do not die.  Our souls are also spirit and do not die, but they are not angelic (Matthew 10:28, 1 Corinthians 15:53). When we die physically, we do not become angels.  I know some parents like to tell this to kids, but it is erroneous.  The fact that humans are "lower than angels" does not mean they do not have value. Jesus died for humans, not angels.  This shows that humans are God's favorite creatures.  Then when you add the fact that God has angels protect us like body guards, you get the point as to how much he values humanity.  Jesus became one of us to elevate us to the Father.  Because of this, Jesus has become our brother as well.  This shows us how much God also values the family.

Finally in the Gospel, there are two versions,a longer and shorter one.  Jesus is asked by the Pharisees, "Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?"  They did this do test Him. Jesus came across as a reformer of sorts.  The Pharisees were the "conservatives" of the day who saw Jesus as some progressive liberal who was changing everything.  This of course was not so.  Jesus was neither liberal nor conservative.  Today Pope Francis faces the same criticism for changing the approach of the Papacy upon the world.  Anyhow, Jesus asks the Pharisees "What did Moses command you?"  They answered him, "Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her."  These words are significant because they show the problem we see today.  The "law" verse "the heart."  Jesus tells the Pharisees that their hearts are hardened (Isaiah 6:10, Jeremiah 16:12). They have become so legalistic that they forgot what God said about marriage (Mark 2:23-27).  Jesus continues, "But 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. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together,no human being must separate." In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this. He said to them,"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."

So here, Jesus repeats what we read from the book of Genesis in the first reading.  God made man and woman, male and female.  Both are of one flesh and joined by God.  Man cannot separate this union.  Jesus then makes it clear that divorce is sinful and that anyone who "divorces" his or her partner via the law of men and marries another commits adultery.  God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).  Divorce is a big problem in society.  Studies show that people divorce within the first 4 months of marriage.  Many young people today are even opting out of marrying and are just moving in together.  Because of this, the sacred institution of marriage has been weakened.  Marriage has become just something that we do, a social ritual that has no significant meaning or value.  Furthermore, today we are now allowing marriages that do not reflect that union between one man and one woman.  So-called "same-sex marriage" is now the "law of the land" in America.  There is a confusion in the culture of what love really is and what constitutes a natural marriage.  A marriage with a male and female is complementary.  This union brings forth new life in the form of children. Anything else is artificial and unnatural (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27).  It is destructive and irrational.

Unions without a mother and father are hurtful to children whom Jesus said to come to Him.  This is why we must pray for the family and for all marriages.  It is in the union of one man and one woman where the love between the three persons of the Blessed Trinity are reflected to the world.  This is why Satan hates marriage and has been focusing his attack against humanity via marriage.  Remember, it was the serpent to brought Adam and Eve to argue as to whether or not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3).  It was this serpent who instigated the fall of humanity by attacking this union of man and woman, the one flesh. This is why the attacks on marriage today whether via divorce or other strange unions is demonic in nature (Ephesians 6:12).  We must continue to pray and push forth legislation that will protect marriage between one man and one woman.  The Supreme Court is NOT the Supreme Being.  As the bishops gather for the Synod in Rome now, we must pray for them.  There are many forces at work in the Vatican that are trying to accomplish the work of the Serpent.  May God bless us all, and send St. Michael to guard over the Church during these difficult times.  



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