Peace be with you and greetings on this our celebration of the Mass for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. You know, I was talking to a friend the other day who works at Kroger and he told me an interesting story. One Sunday afternoon he was working the checkout line and he had just finished ringing up a lady’s groceries and asked her if she wanted to pay with cash, check, or charge. As she was digging through her purse for her wallet he happened to notice a TV remote control and couldn’t help asking, “Do you always carry your TV remote in your purse?” “No” she said with a big smile. “I asked my husband to come with me to help with the shopping but he said he had to stay home and watch a football game so I figured this was the most wicked thing I could do that was still legal.” So – here we are today, having just listened to that beautiful story from Genesis 2 about the creation of the first man and the first woman and the story continues, doesn’t it?
You know, I heard another homily in the not too distant past, where the Priest suggested this very Creation Story from Genesis 2 we just heard, actually lays out the fundamentals for human anthropology. Specifically, from the very beginning the Bible tells us we are all created to be social creatures. Now I know that may not track with what our Western society teaches today about how important our personal individualism is, but like it or not fellow Christians, the Bible tells us we are all created to be social by nature. Listen one more time to what we just heard from God in Genesis, “It is not good for the man to be alone I will make him a suitable partner.” With his uniquely human rationality and capacity to love, Adam needs someone coequal, a soul mate, someone to share his life. That good old heathen Aristotle even said, “We can only be friends with someone who is our equal.” “A friend” he said, “is a second self.” And this relationship between man and woman presented in Genesis is meant to be the deepest form of friendship. The Bible tells us, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.”
Wow, now that’s a very sensual sounding verse from the Bible isn’t it? Well again interestingly, in our modern American society, we Catholics are often criticized for being overly puritanical or actually opposed to human sensuality as though it is something evil. My sisters and brothers, there certainly couldn’t be anything further from the truth. Follow me here for a minute. I once read an article by Dr. Scott Hahn where he says Satan is probably a greater theologian than anyone alive. He says Satan could probably quote the Bible or any other religious text better than any human on earth. Dr. Hahn points out that every single demon Jesus ever drove out in the Bible knew exactly who Jesus was, the Holy One, the Son of God. Now how did they know that – because those nasty old demons had faith? Oh come on Scott, how can that be, demons with faith? You see faith in and of itself, without love, collapses in on itself and of course; Satan and his demons have no love. Everything in the Christian world must be related to love and just like faith, that includes human sexuality. God is love and as Thomas Aquinas said, “love is willing the good of the other.” So, the casual Playboy philosophy where sensuality is good in and of itself, as pleasure or simply recreation, independent of love and commitment, will eventually collapse in on itself and create pain, hurt, and suffering. Remember, love is willing the good of the other and it must be elemental in every Christian’s life. With love human sexuality is a beautiful gift from God.
Why is love elemental for our human existence, the Bible emphasizes it, especially in the New Testament; all people are called to holiness and if God is love holiness and love must be codependent. With this specific emphasis that all people are called to holiness, Vatican II articulated this about marriage, marriage is every bit as much a vocation or spiritual calling as the Priesthood or religious life. My friends, marriage is a vocation from God. When two people are married they are actually mirroring what God is, because God is a loving relationship. The Father and the Son are equal and their love of each other as the Holy Spirit is also equal. The Biblical image is clear. Marriage is not simply some secular or social arrangement. It is part of God’s plan for God’s purposes. Marriage is a symbolic sign of God’s very way of being. Now meditate on that for a while folks. Marriage is a symbolic sign of God’s very way of being.
Now we have the Gospel reading for today and along with it, we have an elephant in the room no one wants to talk about, divorce. Because of everything going on in our national and local governing systems now a days concerning marriage, I’ve stopped referring to what we do here in the Church during a wedding as simply marriage, I now call it Sacramental Marriage. You can have a marriage in a courthouse, on the beach, or on a mountaintop, performed by your best friend if you want, as long as he or she goes on line and orders the right certificate for ten bucks or so. If you want a Catholic Sacramental Marriage however, a Priest or a Deacon must do it in the Church. Now I certainly don’t want to correct the Evangelist Mark but I would like to qualify for the purposes of this homily, we are talking about Sacramental Marriage in the Gospel reading.
Jesus himself quoted Genesis 2 before he said, “Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Friends, God doesn’t make mistakes. If God caused you to say yes He cannot cause you later to say no and that’s what Sacramental Marriage is all about. Consequently, in the Catholic Church we have this process, which very few understand called Annulment. That’s Catholic divorce right? Wrong!!! It is a process that proves, a Sacramental Marriage did or did not take place and there are many, many reasons why the authentic truth might say it did not.
In our Church Marriage is and always will be sacred and sacramental but wherever you may be in your life remember God is love. And remember what Paul says at the end of Romans 8; “Neither height, nor depth, nor anything in all of creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”