27th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B
GN 2:18-24, PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6, 2 HEB 2:9-11, Gospel: MK 10:2-16
I want to warn everyone about the door that leads outside by the bath-rooms. It has a head-banger on it. There is one of those automatic door closers on the door and it hangs down about 6 inches - the perfect height to be just really smack your head against hard!
And when you do you double over in pain on the floor and sit there for a while, until the stars stop shining and a big knot forms on your forehead.
For me - this is a regular problem, and there are times when we think about what we can do to prevent ourselves from whacking our head any more.
Divorce is a similar type of experience. Six years ago I learned that I was getting a divorce - there was no option and no discussion. Not only a divorce, but an ugly divorce that divides my family to this day.
This means that the readings today are head-banger readings - they hit home in a particularly hard way - making this a difficult topic to preach on.
Please let us take a moment and pray - pray that God will give me the grace to respond to His Spirit and to proclaim his word.
It takes Courage...
It is a painful topic - many of us still have wounds from divorce
- our own divorces
- The divorces of our parents
- The divorces of our friends.
I Can't hear you because...
This causes us to be deaf to the readings today because
- They open old wounds
- They challenge our experience, they challenge the decisions that we have made.
- It is painful for us to discuss, for us to hear.
- Yet, we know that this is Christ who is speaking to us - we need to hear Him fully!
The readings today are Head-Banger readings.
Marriage in the World
When we look at the state of the world today there is a lot of confusion around the topic of marriage. For the world, the state Marriage is;
First of all, many people say "Why Bother" - We can just live together and avoid the commitment. This is disingenuous because we are living "as if" we were married without acknowledging the truth of our situation.
For those that do Bother, they might define marriage this way: Marriage is a Public Commitment of two people in a loving relationship.
Colorado Rules around Marriage
- You can't marry if you are already married
- You can't marry your children or parents.
- You can't marry your nephews, nieces, uncles or aunts.
What does it cost? $30.00
What is it worth? It is worthless.
Why is it worthless?
Look at the foundation
In order to understand why this relationship has lost its value we need to look at the philosophy of marriage that the world has.
Marriage is selfish - it is about my happiness.
To the extent that my spouse makes me happy, I will remain married. If you are not happy, then get out - you will be free, liberated and in control.
Marriage is lifeless - I want to be free of burdens
Children are a burden, they are expensive, and they are at most a badge of office showing that you are mature.
Marriage is Temporary - I can leave when I want
Under Colorado law anyone can choose to divorce at any time for any reason. I will be here as long as you make me happy, you stop doing that and I am leaving.
At its heart secular marriage is selfish, focuses on my own happiness, life-less (hence the view that children are a burden instead of a gift) and temporary.
Serial Monogamy leads us deeper into woundedness.
This attitude of heart leads to the practice of serial monogamy. We go from one failed relationship to another - becoming more isolated and crippled along the way.
Why is this practice painful?
In the first reading today God notes that "the two shall become one flesh" - if that is true then with each divorce we become more and more wounded because we are hurting ourselves by not living out our lives in the way that God intended.
These wounds rarely heal between the first and second and third relationship - instead of growing closer in love we become more and more broken and isolated.
Our Wounds Bind and Blind Us
It is hard to see our wounds - because then we have a lot of pain to face and loss to grieve. For that reason the habit of divorce becomes more and more difficult for us to face and deal with honestly, and we become trapped in attitudes and decisions which are not aligned with God.
The Original Plan - Christian Marriage
But what did God intend from the beginning?
Created for Complementarity
The first thing that jumps out to me is that God did not intend for us to be alone - we are created for communion. So, God created Eve from Adam, so that they might complement one another. There is a reason why Women complete Men and Men complete Women - it was Gods intention that we complete one another physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. Modern thinking rejects this reality.
God created us for one another because he created us for selfless love. True love is witnessed to by our ability to sacrifice ourselves for the good of the other. In this way we imitate the love of Christ.
Love is fruitful!
God created our love relationships to be open to be fertile - open to life. The psalm today speaks of children as a blessing - not a burden. That God would honor our love for one another with new life - that can share in our relationship of love - that will exist for all of time - what an honor and a gift.
Fidelity is the gateway to freedom
Fidelity is the prerequisite to love because it gives the other the gift to be themselves freely. When you are secure in the knowledge and experience of my love then you are free to become who God created you to be - because you know that no matter what, I will still love you and forgive you and give myself for you. This is why fidelity is at the heart of Christian Marriage.
How is Christian Marriage Good?
In Christian marriage selfless love is the motivator.
The primary principal for Christian marriage is that my love for you gives me the strength to change me.
Selfless love is self-reflective.
Selfless love leads me to examine my own actions. The goal of this examination is to learn where my selfish actions have hurt my marriage, or injured our friendship. If we can see that then we can have the power to change our behaviors.
Seeing faults leads to forgiveness
When we see how we have hurt one another we should ask for forgiveness in humility. And when another asks for forgiveness we should pray for the grace to forgive and then rely on the grace that we receive.
Hard Hearts - the obstacle to God's vision for Marriage
The most startling words of the Gospel today are the reason why Moses permitted divorce - it was because of the hardness of your hearts!
When we have a hard heart it is because we are wounded, proud and unable to see our own faults. It is because we are selfish rather than self-less. This is the wake-up call from the readings today.
- Where am I unforgiving of my spouse?
- Where am I stubborn in my behavior?
- Where have I hurt my spouse?
- Where do I need to apologize?
Examine your marriage
I want to challenge all of the couples here today at this mass to examine our hearts this week, and then to go on a date. Take the time to sit across the table from your spouse and apologize for your selfish behavior.
This is the way that we soften our hearts to Christ - so that he can enter and heal our wounds.