OCTOBER 4th 2015. TWENTY SEVENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
Gospel: Mark 10:2-16
Gospel: Mark 10:2-16
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio
Some Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, ‘Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?’ They were testing him. He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ ‘Moses allowed us’ they said ‘to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.’ Back in the house the disciples questioned him again about this, and he said to them, ‘The man who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is guilty of adultery too.’
People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them. The disciples turned them away, but when Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ Then he put his arms round them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessings.
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ
Kieran’s summary . . . Sunday's Gospel speaks of the indissolubility of married love. Is this an impossible demand in our modern world? Nowadays people are reluctant to love if the personal cost is too great. Instead of watering down this statement of Jesus, Don Fabio asks us to reflect on the indissoluble nature of all human relationships. Jesus, by loving us to the end and dying on the Cross, shows how enduring love is possible despite personal cost. Marital breakdown can give rise to an enormous inner barrier to faith in the eternal love of God. For if Mum and Dad are not capable of loving each other, if they are not capable of dying for the other, if they are not capable of loving to the end, then it is difficult for their children to believe in the existence of eternal love. All relationships (paternal, fraternal, etc.,) are called to be permeated by the fidelity, indissolubility, and eternity that derives from the event of the resurrection. In all of our relationships we are called to lose ourselves, and give ourselves to the other even when the other is not easy to love. If I love the other only to the extent that it is convenient or pleasant for me, then I do nothing more than use the other person for my own ends. Our greatness begins once we start to lose ourselves; when, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ - and it is him who started us on this road - and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we begin to love in an enduring way even when it is no longer convenient for me to do so. Thus the indissolubility and self-renunciation that is part and parcel of the marital bond is a model for the indissolubility and self-renunciation that should be the mark of all relationships.
We are inclined to think that lifelong marriages are an impossibility, but all genuine relationships are by their very nature indissoluble
In the Gospel passage this Sunday, the Lord Jesus presents us with the notion of indissolubility, the principle that man cannot divide what God has united. This principle has become more and more unacceptable to the contemporary way of thinking. There is a feeling abroad that the principle is impractical and is only directed at a select few Christians of the heroic variety. But the sayings of Jesus are never absurd in any age, and Jesus' statement in this passage touches on the very heart of love itself. The bond between a man and a woman is often treated as if it were something transitory, something that has validity only for as long as it suits the persons involved. But any genuine relationship - and we are not only talking about that between a man and a woman - is indissoluble by its very nature. True friendship is indissoluble by its nature. Fatherhood is indissoluble by its nature. Parents who refuses to recognize their children are going against a fundamental statute written in the depths of their hearts. As Jesus says, one would have to have a heart of stone, a heart that is hardened against the true reality of love. To conceive of relationships as something that can be dissolved is to have a very superficial and poorly developed conception of the human being.
The nature of human relationships cannot be understood by looking at their failures. Human beings can only be understood in the light of their divine origin.
All around us we see failures in human relationships, and we conclude that indissoluble relationships are impossible. The human being, however, is not to be understood simply in terms of his failures but in the light of his divine origins. The true nature of man, his eternity and dignity, are not unveiled and understood except in that light. Human relationships, therefore, should not be defined in terms of human desires that are transitory and can be "dissolved" at a moment's notice, nor in terms of humanity's fickle search for material wellbeing.
Moses had to bow before the hardness of the human heart and permit marriages to be dissolved. Jesus, by loving us to the end on the Cross, showed the true and eternal potential of human relationships.
To understand human relationships we must view them in the light of the deepest and most intimate truths of human nature. In the end, it is only God who brings us face to face with ourselves. It is only God who brings us to fruition. Jesus shatters the veil of deceit that obscures the reality of human nature and achieves something that Moses couldn't accomplish. Moses had to kneel before the hardness of the human heart and accept that human beings were not capable of relationships that endure. Moses brought external adherence to the law, but only Jesus is capable of bringing us the Holy Spirit. Jesus brings us the divine life which allows us to be fully ourselves, capable of an indissoluble love that conquers all. It is Christianity that brings us the indissolubility of marriage. This did not exist in Roman or Jewish culture, nor in the Hellenistic world. Jesus, crucified on the cross, inaugurated the practice of loving right to the end, accepting the limitations of the one who is loved. Jesus made possible the establishment of indissoluble fraternal relations, and of binding oneself to another forever in marriage.
The failure of parents to love each other to the end creates a barrier in the hearts of children to faith in the eternal love of God
Life springs from the encounter between man and woman, and it springs from no other form of relationship. He who denies the nature of this form of encounter denies life itself. But life in its sacredness and its beauty requires contact with God. God is eternal and gives a transcendental form to the nature of our relationships. What a paradox we are! We live in constant fear for our self-preservation, but we are still called to love eternally. The denial of this call is a cause of great sadness in the world. Today an incredible sadness is being sown in the hearts of many children and young people - the sadness of never having seen at first hand the practice of indissoluble love. This can give rise to an enormous inner barrier to faith in the eternal love of God. For if Mum and Dad are not capable of loving each other, if they are not capable of dying for the other, if they are not capable of loving to the end, then it is difficult for their children to believe in the existence of eternal love.
If I love the other only for as long as it is pleasant, then I am simply using the other for my own ends. True human greatness begins when we love in an enduring way and forget ourselves
Sunday's Gospel is not just directed at married relationships but at all relationships. There is no relationship that is not called to be permeated by the event of the resurrection. In all of our relationships we are called to lose ourselves, and give ourselves to the other even when the other is not easy to love. If I love the other only to the extent that it is convenient or pleasant for me, then I do nothing more than use the other person for my own ends. Our greatness begins once we start to lose ourselves. Our greatness begins when, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ - and it is him who started us on this road - and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we begin to love in an enduring way even when it is no longer convenient for me to do so.
Adultery is not only a betrayal of our spouse, but a betrayal of the divine loving nature of our own hearts
"He who divorces his spouse and marries another commits adultery". Who is the adultery committed against? Against the spouse, of course, but also against the eternal plan of God for each of us. True adultery and true betrayal involves the betrayal within ourselves of our choice to love. Friendships and marriages often die because the moment arrives in which one imperceptibly begins to kill the love they have in their hearts, begins to kill the choice to love, and to choose death instead. The decision to stop loving the other might appear to be a choice for a peaceful existence because it also brings to an end the conflict with the other. But being with others necessarily involve discomfort! Life itself involves discomfort! Life is a chaos out of which God brings forth a wonderful creation. To enter into a relationship is to enter into something that cannot be controlled or governed. When we withdraw ourselves from this situation, things become much more orderly and comfortable. There is much more silence when others are not around, but there is also isolation and solitude.