Readings: Genesis 2:18-24; Hebrews 2:9-11; Mark 10:2-16
This is perhaps not the sort of Gospel that a monk should presume to speak about to married people. You would likely be much better suited to share your thoughts with each other at home. I will do better to speak to my brothers this morning about what can apply to us as monks in these words of the Lord. There is always something that the Holy Spirit has to offer for everyone in God’s Word.
We have a principle here in what Jesus points out to theses Pharisees who are trying to set a trap for him: What God has joined together, no human being should try to separate. As far as setting a trap with the Word of God, we remember Satan tried it first in the temptation of Jesus in the desert. Today it happens still–things never really change.
But returning to what Jesus said to his accusers about God’s divine purpose for human beings: What God has joined together, no human being should try to separate. Are only husbands and wives in their married life those for whom these words apply? Or are not all of us expected by God to embrace what he intends for us in our lives–his purpose and destiny for each of us, not to disregard what God has proposed? Remember how Jesus responded to Peter when he innocently rebuked Jesus for talking about his coming sacrifice of his life: Get behind me, you Satan! That was a shocker for poor Peter.
Marriage is intended by God to be a partnership, to offer mutual strength and consolation to the couple and find shared happiness together. Here is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, Adam says. And Jesus declares: That is why a man leaves his father and mother [and a woman her mother and father] and he clings to his wife [and she clings to her husband] and two of them become one flesh. The Church blesses this bond a man and woman make to each other. For Saint Paul says they are a sign together of Christ’s bond with the Church.
There are others as well who Jesus says are called to celibate life for God, which is also a strength and a consolation for those who are given that vocation. They too serve as a sign, a sign of our life to come in the Kingdom of Heaven, to which all are destined by God. So where is the problem with what God has disposed for his children?
The problem is that life is no picnic. People suffer. Regardless of what initial joy we may feel in committing ourselves to our chosen vocation in life, everyone must deepen ands mature in his or her calling in life. And that can never come about, if we should only know consolations–much as we personally would prefer that. People need to grow strong in their life. And strength comes from all the efforts we have to make and our perseverance in the trials and sorrows that befall us. Note what the Apostle says in the Epistle of today’s Mass: it was fitting that [God] make the leader of their salvation perfect through suffering. We have a glib saying, “no pain, no gain.” No one likes to think about whatever suffering lies ahead of us in our lives. We’d prefer to focus on the hoped-for joys. But everyone knows there is no avoiding hardship. What the Apostle is saying is that Jesus also knew these hardships and suffering. His own example shows us how to handle it when it comes, and for us to understand how important it is for us to accept the trials and suffering as a necessary part of our human growth.
Not very popular words for today’s world. But true wisdom comes in finding that there is meaning and benefit for us in accepting with a trusting heart what God calls us to suffer. God is no sadistic monster. He is a loving and merciful Father to every one of us, his children. He intends for us to share his joy. Am I able to trust that the way to grow in God is to follow the way that Jesus himself walked?