Do not make complaints against one another, brothers, so as not to be brought to judgement yourselves; the Judge is already to be seen waiting at the gates. For your example, brothers, in submitting with patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord; remember it is those who had endurance that we say are the blessed ones. You have heard of the patience of Job, and understood the Lord’s purpose, realising that the Lord is kind and compassionate.
Above all, my brothers, do not swear by heaven or by the earth, or use any oaths at all. If you mean ‘yes’, you must say ‘yes’; if you mean ‘no’, say ‘no.’ Otherwise you make yourselves liable to judgement.
Jesus came to the district of Judaea and the far side of the Jordan. And again crowds gathered round him, and again he taught them, as his custom was. Some Pharisees approached him 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.’
It was because you were so unteachable
When I read the Gospel today, I immediately thought of my mum. And a part of me began to soften. My dad left home when I was about two years old. And a divorce quickly followed. I began living alone with Mum while Dad would regularly visit. But rarely would the two of them be present in the same room at the same time. They did try initially, but quarrels would ensue. Then, somehow along the way, my parents managed to put the broken pieces aside and an amicable relationship grew. Even when my dad remarried and eventually had his own kids, Mum never stopped them from visiting or from becoming part of the family. She also never remarried, even to this day. Bygones became bygones, and all that matters to them now is their relationship with me as parents.
Yet from time to time, the past will quietly resurface again. For instance, just the other day, my dad quietly commented out of the blue that he couldn’t imagine how he had just walked out of the house and left. It sounded as if he was questioning his younger self as to why he had chosen to do that. We were eating dinner after a movie ( our regular monthly activity) – just him, my half-brother and I – at a cafe when he suddenly said this. I could see him lost in his thoughts and mentally questioning himself for it. I can only guess that, upon looking back, the older version of him probably would not have done what the younger one had.
As I read today’s Gospel, I ponder upon the words of Jesus and I can’t help but wonder if I am teachable enough for marriage? Being engaged, there are a lot of unknowns that lie ahead of me. What if my hotheadedness of youth, and my volatile emotions, leads me to rashness that I’ll regret in my old age? Marriage, I believe, is like a venture that two people go into. It is a venture because a lot is invested with the hope of return – our time, our efforts and our youth. We may even decide to give up our careers, country, home, finances, or even dreams for the sake of being happy in our marriages. But when our returns seem bleak, and our sacrifices huge, we may start to re-evaluate our choices.
Jesus, however, reminds me today that marriage is not a venture, but a commitment that we make to embark on a lifetime journey with a person. It is meant to be a life changing process, filled with challenges. Rather than thinking what we can get out of marriage, the focus is actually more on the journey. Like life, the route of marriage is a dynamic one. We can choose how we want to respond in it. The choices we make affect the way it grows – like our bodies. The beauty of marriage I think is that we, as humans, have the ability to grow. We can learn from our mistakes – especially in the way we treat each other – and grow from the challenges we encounter . And we have God to guide us in it. When we grow, our marriage grows.
The key question, however, is whether we are willing to allow the Holy Spirit into our marriage? Are we willing to turn to Him, and to give each other the time and space that we need to grow (as the Holy Spirit slowly transforms us) on this journey together? Are we willing to learn how to love someone who is essentially an entirely different individual from us? Sometimes this may mean learning new ways of relating to our spouse or changing old patterns of thinking. It may also mean realizing that our way may not always be the best way of doing things. And even if we still think that it is, love may also mean going along with our spouse’s preferred way of doing things, and respecting them as individuals for it. Marriage is essentially still a journey made by two people and each has something to learn from it. Are we willing to accompany each other on this journey of faith and growth together?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
Prayer: Lord, grant us the humility to remain teachable in love.
Thanksgiving: Lord, we thank you for blessing us with our parents, children and spouses