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Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (B) – Homily

Posted by frmac on October 1, 2009

Marriage and the Gospel – by Fr. Sean Shallow – Pastor of St. Raphael’s and St. Margaret of Scotland Parishes – Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall

Genesis 2: 18-24 Psalm 128 Hebrews 2: 9-11 Mark 10: 2-16

As I read this Sunday’s gospel, I wondered how divorced people who hear what Jesus is saying. Its no secret that all of our communities are made up of people who have for one reason or another, divorced or annulled their marriage. In many cases these people have remarried. I wondered if Jesus would sound harsh and unbending. Would what Jesus says stir up old memories or the guilt that some people feel about a marriage that fell apart. Some people may already feel inadequate or that they failed. Some of us in our arrogance may say, "marriage is hard but we stuck it out, why couldn’t they!?" It would be tempting to preach on something else this weekend or to change the gospel for this Sunday. Fortunately, I’m not allowed to and so we are challenged to dig deep into ourselves to receive the message Jesus is sending.
When we look at the marriage situation today it can seem a rather sad state of affairs. With a Canadian divorce rate of nearly half it would seem that marriages just aren’t working. We can see that more and more people are choosing to live together without making any formal commitment to each other. More and more babies are born out of wedlock and what we have understood to be the family unit has changed dramatically. The other day, I was talking with someone, and had to think really hard about how I was related to someone, because their connection to me was a maze of broken relationships. More and more people are choosing to "play house" unwilling to commit themselves to the responsibilities of married life.
So what do we do with all this? How can we find good news in what Jesus answers to the Pharisees?
Jesus place before us the ideal of a loving permanent relationship. He reminds us that we are called to take seriously the commitment that we make to each other. That marriage means joining ourselves to another person for life. Jesus uses the text from Genesis that we heard in our first reading to help make his point "God made them male and female…" " For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one." Jesus is challenging us to strive for the ideal. To know that we have been created to be with each other.
For those of you who are married, you know how difficult it can be. You know that sometimes the hardest thing to do is stay with your husband or wife. All married couples at one point or another realize that the ideal Jesus presents to us is really tough work. Work that can only be done with the help of others and the help we find from God here at Eucharist.
As we reflect on Jesus words in the gospel today, I think its important that we look at them alongside his other teachings. That we are called to be merciful and forgiving. I’m sure that Jesus realized the challenges people face staying committed to each other. I believe he presented the ideal so that couples realize the need for self practice sacrifice. I think, Jesus presents the ideal of a loving permanent relationship so that couples work harder to forgive each other. The ideal presented is meant to motivate us, not to harm those of us who unable to heal a broken relationship.
Last week you heard preach about the welcome of others, and I forgot to mention those were divorced and/or remarried. And so I ask us this week to consider how we welcome the divorced and remarried in our community. I ask us to consider how we can help the married couples we know. What more can we be doing to strengthen the commitment we’ve made to our husbands and wives.

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