Homily for Twenty-Seventh Sunday B

God created man and said, it is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate. So, God created all kinds of animals, but man found no helpmate in any. So, the Lord God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh. The Lord God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man: In this woman, man found helpmate; and that became the origin of marriage, a man and a woman becoming one body.

In our gospel passage this morning, some Pharisees approached Jesus and asked if a man could divorce his wife, if man could separate what God has brought together. In response, Jesus made them understand that from the very beginning God made them male and female, they are no longer two but one. In good and in bad times they remain one until death do them part; no separation.

Not too long ago the Pope made the process of annulment much easier, and that generated some questions among Catholics and none Catholics. Has the Catholic Church now accepts divorce? They asked. The answer is certainly no, there is no divorce in the Catholic Church, the Pope has not granted divorce neither is he encouraging it. What he talked about was annulment, he only made the process of annulment a little bit easier than what it used to be. Annulment is not divorce. Divorce is the dissolution of a validly contracted marriage while annulment is the dissolution of an invalidly contracted marriage or a marriage that never technically existed. Divorce does not exist in the Catholic Church.

In today’s liturgy, the Church calls us to go back to the root, to the original plan of God for marriage. The Pharisees asked Jesus if divorce is permitted, or allowed. They asked this question not because they did not know the truth, they knew the truth, for they were teachers of the law. They only asked the question to test Jesus, to set a trap for him. But Jesus knowing their minds insist on the original plan of God for marriage, saying; But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide. Marriage is for better for worse, for richer or poorer, in health and in sickness till death do the couple part. No matter what happens, no matter what comes their way, they are together in it.

Marriage demands a lot of maturity, understanding, tolerance, sacrifice and above all faith in God. Married couples must remember that they are not married to Angels, the wife is not an Angel neither is the husband one. They are humans capable of failing each other and God; they may step on each other’s toes and misunderstand each other, but that is not the end of the road. There is nothing you face in marriage that many others have not gone through and handled with a sense of maturity; so, why blow yours out of proportion or make a show of it? The people you tell about your husband or wife may not have a better marriage. What you see out-side is completely different from what is inside; so, celebrate yourselves, celebrate your marriage in good and in bad times and do not give the devil the chance to ask you the deceptive question the Pharisees asked Jesus in our gospel reading this morning. Marriage is from God, ordained by him. It is not what we jump into simply because others are in it. We must be matured and ready for it.

There is no doubt that the institution of marriage and family life are under threat today for socio- economic reasons, for religious reasons and so many other reasons. In recent times, Pope Francis has laid emphasis on family life, same-sex union, sexual abuses, and society’s attitude towards marriage among many other things. Many of our young people today are scare of marriage because of what they see and hear about marriage, but marriage is a great institution instituted by God.

We must let Christ be the foundation of our marriages, If a marriage is not well rooted, the family becomes shaky. Today, dating and marriages are being arranged and executed over the internet making two strangers living together in the name of marriage. Dating and marriage have being reduced to mere social activities, the dignity and sanctity of marriage means nothing to the contemporary age. This attitude towards marriage and family is beginning to reflect or raise its ugly head in our liturgical celebration of the sacrament of matrimony. It is obvious today that people now appreciate the social celebration of marriage over and above the sacramental celebration. The attendance in the liturgical celebration of marriage is far less than what you see in the social aspect of the celebration. In most cases, even the few that attends the church wedding are carried away during the Mass by some other activities like posing for photos, make up, chewing gum, phone calls and unnecessary fashion parade.

Today, the Church reminds married couples that despite the difficulties, the challenging situations in their marriages, the failures and disappointments you find in each other as husbands and wives, you are brought together for companionship. In our first reading this morning, it is obvious that Adam did not find a suitable companion among the animals and other creatures except in his wife. Husbands and wives must therefore learn to find a companion in each other, despite the mistakes they may both make in their marriages. Learn to communicate, learn to talk about yourselves, about the successes, challenges of your marriages, and learn to resolves issues between your two selves. And above all, let your home be a home of prayer.

 

Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA

Joel Okojie is an ordained Catholic Priest in the Order of St. Augustine. He has been a Priest for over a decade. He served as pastor in two different parishes, he was one time Novice Master and a member of the Provincial Council of the province of St. Augustine of Nigeria, and he is currently on a mission in response to the needs of the Church in Canada.

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