Unfortunately, some of us who are divorced and/or separated—even widowed—might hear these readings this weekend and walk away with a great pain. Thus, I’ve got to take this opportunity to comfort each one of us when we hear Christ’s stinging words this morning; so that we hear His challenge and His invitation.
We heard in our first reading the painful reality of the first man: he was alone, without a suitable helpmate. Even given all the other creatures God had made, this one man found no companion, no remedy to his isolation. And clearly, this made sense, did it not?
Even God himself is a communion of persons, is He not? The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in constant, loving, life-giving relationship. And because man is made in God’s image and likeness, he too is destined for such relationships of self-giving and receiving. And so he must—by his very nature—overcome his isolation and alone-ness. God sees this and responds: by taking this first man and making woman from his very being, the man begins what will be the human project for all of time: from his isolation he reaches outward to share himself with another; to give from his very life in order that another may have life. And from his so doing, God is then able to replicate, to duplicate, to propagate His own life of love and relationship in humankind.
It’s only from this understanding that we can now hear Christ’s words for what they truly are: a challenge and an invitation. In condemning divorce, Christ upholds the divine value in giving oneself and receiving anothers self most completely and in the virtue of love: a love that knows no bounds, no end.
So, what is the invitation? To give of oneself so completely to another that we actually mirror the divine love shared within the Trinity. As the Father and Spirit give the Son to us, they share everything of themselves so that the Son can share everything of Himself for our sake. As the Son awaits new life—as He sleeps in death (remember He descended into death for 3 days)—it is the Father and the Spirit who raise Him to new life in the resurrection. They fully give and fully receive each other in their unity, in their friendship, in their life and in their love. That’s our vocation as well: simply do everything you can to uphold such a beautiful life. Yours may not be perfect, but it can be perfected: do everything in your power to live in love and live in God.
So, what’s the challenge? Isn’t it built into the invitation? Isn’t it true that such a love is difficult, is painful, is sometimes “less than rewarding”? The challenge then, is to keep at it. For it is in the determination, in the grit, in the growing out of despair, out of loneliness, out of turmoil that such a love is perfected and reborn.
May God be gracious to each of us this day and in the week to come: may he strengthen you who are married; may he console those who are widowed; and may He encourage and be compassionate to those who are separated or divorced. Only in His life is found our true calling…and His life is filled to overflowing with love, mercy, compassion and peace.