To get to the heart of today’s gospel, we must go back to the first century church of Mark. Marriage was not about two people in love, romance , the wedding day, or even about the couple. A marriage was arraigned by the parents as a way to unite two families. One commentator put it this way: no one chooses their parents but God, God chooses the spouse through the parents. The union of the families was for a variety of reasons, never love. A divorce was seen as shame to both families, in particular, the bride’s family. For her to be rejected by her husband was an affront to her father, brothers, etc. In a society that often devalued a woman, we see one way in which she was honored. To be rejected by her husband, her family would avenge the shame, often though blood feuds.
So how does this apply to our lives today? The answer is found in Genesis in the creation of man and woman. God created woman from the side of man….as his equal. In the nuptial blessing of the wedding Mass, this is part of the prayer we could miss…”May her husband entrust his heart to her, so that acknowledging her as his equal and joint heir to the life of grace”. The relationship of two people living in marriage is not about one having more power; the type of power that abuses…emotionally, physically, psychologically, in fact, this is so against what marriage is to be, that the abused woman or man should leave that marriage because it is so against what God intends. Sometimes the two people are not able to make it work and the love dies. The relationship of two people in marriage is a reflection of God’s love for us, His people. This best definition of Christian love is found in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient and kind, etc. If a marital relationship is not reflecting this, then the marriage is in trouble, in the Christian sense.
A Christian couple is called by God, the Father of all, to witness to all people the love that the Father has for each us. At this Eucharist today, let us pray for all those who live in marriage that God will bless their union with his grace and peace. Let us pray for all those are contemplating Christian marriage that they will be blessed in their life together. Let us also prayer for those marriages in difficulty that they will experience healing. Finally, may we remember all woman and men who have been or are in domestic violence situations. For their healing and peace of mind and for the strength to find a way out of the abuse.