Homily for Friday of the 3rd Week of Advent
Theme: PREGNANCY BEFORE MARRIAGE?
By: Fr. Benedict Agbo
Homily for Friday December 18 2020
* Jer 23 : 5 – 8, Matt 1 : 18 – 24.
Every sane society has a due process for marriage. Marriage is a sacred institution and it is the easiest way to build or to destroy a society. Every sane society therefore ensures that the processes of marriage entail meaningful rituals that encourage self control, respect for the woman, respect for her family, respect for order/ discipline in the society, etc. Pregnancy before marriage is therefore a misnomer for every sane society. It is one of the trending spates of madness evident in our contemporary society, especially among the so called Christian families.
Marriage has the following standard processes all over the world :
1. Acquaintance stage – You get to know yourselves.
2. Friendship stage – You get to relate together as ordinary friends.
3. Courtship stage – You begin to consider whether you are compatible as marriageable partners.
4. Betrothal stage – Proposal for marriage is expressed and accepted and both families are aware.
5. Final Marriage – the marriage ceremonies are completed.
In today’s gospel, Joseph and Mary were just at the 4th stage when he discovered that she was pregnant. He then resolved out of love and respect already developed for her, to spare her the embarrassment of disgrace and stoning as prescribed by Jewish culture, and send her away quietly.
There is the need to respect any woman we are about to marry and also respect her people. There is the need for restoration of the values of virginity, premarital chastity and marital fidelity. Many priests, against the backdrop of so many cases of premarital pregnancy, have adopted the administrative law of not allowing pregnant brides to wear white gown and veil on the wedding day. But before you know it, wearing of white wedding grown seizes to be fashionable and ipso facto, not wearing wedding growns becomes less of a punishment/ disciplinary measure for modern day couples. How shall we handle this generation as it gradually devalues the essential disciplines of marriage; premarital and post marital sexual continence and fidelity? You can all see that we have a problem in our hands.
However, we must learn from Joseph, the just man of the scriptures; instead of listening to the unhealthy pressures of the social order, he listened to his own conscience where the spirit of the just and merciful God normally speaks to us and decided to spare his spouse of disgrace. Vima Dasan teaches us that ‘Justice without generosity may easily become Shylock’s justice’.
May we continue to learn from the holy family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus as we mirror their virtues in our own lives. May we continue to teach our children, especially our daughters the value of premarital continence even in the midst of a society with a torpedoing of moral virtues.
May God bless you today!
FR BEN AGBO.