1 March 2019
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.’
So they are no longer two but one flesh.
One of my favourite things to do when I’m on my own, is to sit and watch old married couples interact with each other. Whether at airports, in cafes, at the grocery store or in crowded restaurants, the miracle of an enduring marriage is something I think about a lot. What lives must they have led, to get to this point where they’re at peace with themselves and content just to be in each other’s company? What struggles and arguments must they have endured to know and love each other so much now? You can always tell the ones who are uneasily yoked – someone is usually rolling their eyes or making some backhanded remark. Granted, it is not easy to live with the same person for so many years. Why then, do some marriages grow strong with age, while others wither and die out?
It takes divine grace to go the distance, to build something that endures. Our first reading talks about how one is to discern one’s friends. Those same qualities apply to our life partner as well. Are they compassionate and trustworthy? Do they have our backs? Can they be found when we’re laid low? These are not the things that we consider in the first blush of romance. Rather, more weight is given to whether they ‘make us happy’, as if happiness were something to be traded and acquired.
I was very nearly married once, before I met my current husband. We were so young. He was someone who ticked all the ‘right boxes’, someone who on paper fulfilled the ‘requirements’ I thought would make for a happy life – the right pedigree, the right education, the right career path. No thought was given to whether or not we might be good companions for the long haul. We never made it to the altar. He and I faltered at the first hurdle, planning the wedding, and were exposed for the frauds that we were. You’re not ready to be married until you’re ready to sacrifice. And neither he nor I were prepared to yield even one inch for the other.
The enduring marriage is a miracle of God. It is a triumph of patience and sacrifice, a testament to love that puts the other ahead of itself. “God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”– no longer the wants of their individual selves, but rather the shared hopes and dreams of both together. At the heart of it, the enduring marriage is a three-pronged relationship – husband, wife and God, all bound together by those beautiful wedding vows. “Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate”. God bless all of our long-suffering husbands and wives.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for all who are about to take their marriage vows. We pray that God helps them to discern carefully, to understand the gravity of the decision they are about to make.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for our husbands and our wives; for their patience, their humour, their love and the sacrifice they make daily, when they put us before themselves. We give thanks that we met them. We give thanks for the brightness that they bring to our lives.