The Gospel on this Sunday may evoke pain, anger, disappointment and condemnation, reassurance and commitment. Whatever the immediate reaction, everybody has a vested interest in the critical issue of the teaching of Jesus on marriage, divorce and remarriage. The most futile reaction to the Gospel would be one of blame. It is easy to blame. It is common to blame the media, parents, the church or even God Himself for the pain that arises from marriage breakdown. The real tragedy of our times is not so much that people separate, because unfortunately they find that they can no longer live together but that so many forces in modern society contribute to the disintegration of marriage as a permanent commitment.
The Christian response is to build on what is worthwhile rather than to indulge oneself with negative criticism that leads only to frustration. Jesus puts God’s plan clearly before us. It is that man and woman will be willing and able to commit themselves to one another for life. It is a plan that is worthy of our highest human calling. There is the possibility of great happiness in marriage, but marriage is also hard work. The divorce rate is one indication that the work is more effort than many are willing to expend, or that many marriages were entered in the first place without thoughtful consideration. A failed marriage is not just one that ends with a divorce recorded at a court house. A failed marriage is also a marriage where a couple failed to live together in their own house in the manner that God intended. Successful marriage is not just staying together, it is growing together in a relationship that honours God and honours each other.
The last sentence in the first reading from the Book of Genesis gives a blueprint for the home as God intended it from the beginning. God intended that happy marriages would be characterised by couples who leave their past, cleave to their partner and weave a new future together. Fr John