Catholic homily for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: The Dignity of Marriage
By: Fr. Chibuike Uwakwe
Homily for Sunday October 3 2021
In our society today, it seems that most cases of divorce are not championed by the spouses themselves but by relatives and friends of the spouses. A closer look at the present society will also reveal an increasing rate of divorce. As a matter of fact, the dignity and sacredness of marriage are fast washing away. This is because marriage has been regarded as a social or business contract that could begin or end whenever and anyhow one pleases.
This was perhaps the concept of marriage in the minds of the Pharisees who came to question Jesus in the gospel reading (Mark 10:2-16). It was a test because they wanted to know Jesus’ concept of marriage and know if it was in opposition to popular tradition or the Mosaic tradition. The popular tradition held that a Jewish husband could divorce his wife by pronouncing a divorce formula three times in the presence of two male witnesses (called the triple express system). But the Mosaic tradition held that the husband could only divorce his wife with a letter of divorce (writ of dismissal).
However, the Mosaic tradition was not in favour of divorce. The popular tradition permitted oral divorce which could be done hastily out of anger but the Mosaic tradition will require some time for the written letter to undergo some processes which will give the couple time to moderate their anger and reconsider their decision. It indeed saved a lot of marriages from divorce. As a response to their test, Jesus went on to reinterprete the law of Moses concerning marriage by bringing them to the Father’s will at creation.
Thus, in the first reading (2:18-24), we see God’s plan for humanity; “It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him a helpmate”. He made Eve from Adam’s ribs and the reading adds: “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body.” Just as a body is not separated from its members, marriage should not also be separated from its members. It is not easy for the whole body to be united under one head. The legs have to carry the whole body, the eyes have to see for the whole body, the hands have to work for the whole body, etc. Each part of the body suffers for the good of the whole.
Likewise in marriage, the husband has to suffer for the good of the wife and vice versa. For this reason, the second reading (Hebrews 2:9-11) presents us with the image of Christ who was made perfect through suffering. Perfection here does not mean the Greek philosophical understanding of being the ideal or excellent but the Hebrew understanding of being suitable for a purpose – redemption.
As Christ became suitable to redeem sufferers under the law by enduring suffering under the law, so should husband and wife become suitable for each other under the laws of marriage by enduring their differences. Besides, we have to uphold the dignity of marriage by ensuring that marriage is between one man and one woman and not between two men or two women. Let us shun popular cultures that contradict God’s plan for marriage.
In the case of abusive relationships, the partners could approach the marriage tribunal for assistance. The Church lacks the authority to dissolve a validly contracted marriage because the marriage bond is indissoluble.
However, a marriage found to be deceptive from the beginning could be declared null and void by the Church (annulment) given certain circumstances. For the preservation of lives and upbringing of the children, validly married couples may be permitted to live apart from each other while considering themselves still married. Intending couples must be sincere and open to each other and ensure they can build a Christian home before jumping into marriage in order to avoid future problems.
Therefore beloved friends, today’s message is relevant for couples and non-couples. Couples should be convinced of the dignity, sacredness and indissolubility of marriage by living in love and tolerance garnished with prayer while non-couples (relatives and friends) should learn to assist couples get over their differences amicably instead of championing a divorce for Christ says “What God has joined together let no man put asunder”. God loves you. Happy Sunday.
Fr. Chibuike Uwakwe