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27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings obviously speak about the permanency of marriage. At the wedding I had this past week the couple said they wanted to get married in Door County because it was their favorite place on Earth. They’re only in their 20’s so I’m guessing they are not world travelers and yet even with their limited knowledge of vacation spots around the world this is undoubted a place of beauty Another statement that impressed me is when they said they reflected on what marriage ought be like and told me they are striving to have a lasting, healthy, loving, faith-based marriage and that they believe it was God who brought them together and I’m thinking - they are off to a great start. They found the garden of Eden and they have a good understanding of - the sacrament of marriage.

The scriptures for this weekend and speak about the creation story, how God created the Garden of Eden, and man and woman and how the man and woman shall be united and become one flesh. Then comes the Gospel with the pharisees are asking Jesus if its lawful for a man to divorce his wife and I’m thinking this may be a little challenging, but Jesus takes them back to the creation story and tells them that from the time man and woman were created they were meant to  be united and that when a man is joined to his wife; they become one fleshno longer two but one flesh, therefore what God had joined no one can separate, the focus of the scriptures in on the importance of faithfulness and fidelity.  

This is not saying you are to stay in a relationship that is abusive, Jesus doesn’t want you with someone who puts you in harm’s way but he’s speaking about faithfulness Too often a spouse gets interested in someone else and leaves their lifelong partner. I remember my first priest mentor Fr orville Jansen asking a couple if they were willing to fight for their marriage when they fall in love a second time. I remember the groom asking - what are you talking about? 

He said I believe a day will come when life becomes very challenging or the children become the main focus or you’re not as complimentary to one another and you’re getting short with one another and then someone enters the picture who seems understanding and affirming and attractive and you start comparing them to your spouse and it’s tempting to want out but this when you’ve got to fight for it. You have to look back and think about the commitment you made when you said I will stay with you for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer in sickness and in health, until death. I try to share this with couples when I first meet with them.                                                                       

I try to emphasize the importance of communicating with one another. Just as we need to communicate well in the business world we need to communicate well in our personal lives. Communication is more than letting someone know where you are but its affirming one another and encouraging one another and putting our trust in one another and being trust worthy it’s also about forgiving one another. It’s going out of your way for one another. It’s about unconditional love So much can happen to a couple that’s unexpected so be sure to relay encounters with other people - to your spouse right away, so nothing’s misconstrued.

Before seminary I worked at riches bakery. I was helping on the frozen food line when a young lady working me began talking about all the people at the bakery getting married and what we thought the challenges of marriage were. We were both in our mid-twenties. She told me of a situation in her own life that reminded her to always be sure to tell her husband everything. Danny a friend of hers had broken up with his girlfriend and was having a very difficult time. He asked Kathy to go with him to country kitchen, we worked 3 pm -11 pm shift so it was late at night. She then told me they visited for a while and there were tears and they hugged. When she got home she told her husband she went to country kitchen with Danny as he was having a difficult time after his girlfriend, left him

Her husband then said he was glad she told him because people might read into that and she said that will never happen. A week later, someone came up her husband at work and said he thought his wife was seeing someone. Her husband told him she wasn’t. He then tells him he saw her at country kitchen with someone and they were embracing. He said he knew about it and that it was a friend of theirs who just broke up with his girlfriend. He then told his wife he was glad she told him even though he trusted her it saved him the embarrassment of not knowing she then said - I will never do that again. Communications so important for healthy marriages

I remind couples when they marry, they enter into a most sacred union because God established the sacrament of Marriage himself. He did so by giving mankind a share in his greatest work of creation, the work of the continuation of the human race. In this way he sanctified human love that enables man and woman to help each other live as children of God.  Because God himself is the author of marriage it is by its very nature - a holy institution requiring those who enter a complete and unreservedly - giving of themselves.   Christ added to the holiness of marriage an even deeper meaning. He referred to the love of marriage - to describe his own love - for the Churchyou and I are the church.

So as Christ gave his life for his church - he gave his life for us in doing so he gave Christians a new vision of what married life ought to be a life of self-sacrificing love.  Couples need to ask themselves how much they’re willing to go out of their way for each other. I was speaking to my nephew recently and he told me how he works from home and about the long hours he often puts in and he said if his wife didn’t bring his meals he would probably forget to eat and how grateful he was for her doing that she over heard us talking and kidding him said - yeah, as long you behave yourself. Self sacrificing love is looking out for each other. It’s to have each others back

St Paul refers to marriage as the Great Mysterion, or the great mystery because it images the union of Christ and his church, a union that is most serious because it binds you together to a future with its hopes and pleasures and joys along with its pain and sorrow that is now hidden from your eyes and yet not knowing what lies ahead as a couple, you still make a lifelong commitment to each other knowing what also comes with it - is a life of sacrifice

God’s dream for the world is one of an ultimate communion where both the covenant we made with God and the covenant we made with each other is kept faithfully. Whatever our vocation, whether we are single or married or religious, we strive to be in community. The way we live that out - depends on how serious we take our commitment - to one another and - to God.  

In today’s psalm blessings are clearly seen in the family gathered around the table where they strive to build healthy relationships and pursue a common goal and grow stronger in their faith. When you look at the wedding band you are reminded that your love is forever as the ring itself is unending. The symbol for God is also the Circle as God’s love is unending.

One of the things we also need to remember is that Love isn’t just a feeling it’s our willingness to be remain faithful in good times and in bad. I often try to use this same analogy when we speak about what we get out of church. We often hear people say I don’t get anything out of church - well maybe like marriage we need to ask ourselves - what are we putting into it  Love isn’t defined by a feeling love is defined by a way of life that shows ones commitment and sacrifice and faithfulness. The same is true with our relationship with God Jesus gave his life for us Jesus sacrificed for us Jesus died for us. Our relationship with God is our most important encounter in our lifetime, How we relate to God speaks about who we are as a person of Love. Our relationship with our spouse is our 2nd most important encounter in our lifetime, How we relate to our spouse speaks about who we are - as a person of love.   

How you love, how you sacrifice how you are willing to die to self defines who you are as a son or daughter of God as a spouse to you partner – as a friend to everyone you meet Love is following in the footsteps of Christ – loving as Jesus loved – is giving of yourself completely - as Jesus gave of himself for us  

This Sunday is respect life Sunday, how we respect our spouse is respecting life how we respect those around us is respecting life but most importantly – how we respect the Author of life – who is Jesus the Christ - defines how much we respect ourselves - as he is the one who offers us eternal life - life that lasts forever  


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