Friday of the 19th Week in Ordinary Time Year 2
(Ez 16:1-15, 60,63; Mt 19:3-12)
Mark Link related this story: A young mother of several small children wrote Ann Landers. Her husband had done something stupid, and she had separated from him. Ann wrote back, “Don’t be stubborn and proud. Take him back. I promise you won’t regret it.” Years later another woman wrote to Ann Landers. She had just buried her husband. Eight years earlier she was separated from him, but she went back to him because of Ann’s letter to the young mother. She thanked Ann for her advice, saying their last eight years together were the happiest of their married life. (taken from “Illustrated Daily Homilies” by Mark Link, p. 82). Marriage is primarily a relationship. Yet Israel is illustrated as an unfaithful wife who has to win back God’s favor to her when she seeks forgiveness. God’s benevolence is manifested when the unfaithful wife seeks forgiveness and mercy. The prophet Ezekiel was a remarkable prophet during Israel’s exile in Babylon. He was called in 593 B.C. when Israel unfaithful to the covenant and to the Temple. He was like Jeremiah who was both a priest and a prophet and was concerned with Israel’s return to the Lord after serving years of exile. In like manner, Jesus brings about the problem regarding the issue of divorce. It has something to do with infidelity and disobedience. Let us look into the readings today that provide insights and points for our consideration.
1. Divorce as an issue of infidelity- before divorce is spoken of and proposed or acted upon, there was already an existing sin of infidelity. Divorce becomes the immediate result of the sin of unfaithfulness. Pope Francis says that the presence of pain, evil and violence result to the breaking up of families and marriage. For good reason Christ’s teaching on marriage (cf. Mt 19:3-9) is inserted within a dispute about divorce. The word of God constantly testifies to that sombre dimension already present at the beginning, when, through sin, the relationship of love and purity between man and woman turns into domination: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Gen 3:16). (Amoris Laetitia 19)
2. Divorce as a result of stubborness of heart- divorce is the result of the breaking away from a more important relationship which is vertical in nature: the communion between God and man. A crisis of communion with God leads to the deeper crisis of the family and society. A crisis in a couple’s relationship destabilizes the family and may lead, through separation and divorce, to serious consequences for adults, children and society as a whole, weakening its individual and social bonds”. (Amoris Laetitia 41) Thus, in order for one not to experience the pain of brokenness in the world, Jesus said that relationship, vocation and the future of man should be freely chosen by him without coercion. Jesus said that “Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.” He continued “whoever can accept this ought to accept it.” The stubbornness of one’s heart may be the result of the lack of freedom of choice and the mature exercise of responsibility.
3. Divorce as an issue of the lack of sense of sin- Divorce is the by product of constant and consistent changes in the society. The factors that contribute to the weakening of faith have weakened also the sense of the person. Sin is manifested in the failure to show respect on the other. The lack of the sense of sin becomes then the result of the lack of the sense of the good. If one has to solve the problem of divorce, he has to go to the bottom of it- he should be able find a greater cause of the problem which is the lack of the sense of God. It is a moral problem at the heart of any form of separation and disintegration and John Paul II said “this sense is rooted in man’s moral conscience and is as it were its thermometer. It is linked to the sense of God, since it derives from man’s conscious relationship with God as his Creator, Lord and Father.” (RP 18) Divorce is just one of the forms of the broken relationships human beings and families experience. Yet forms of human disintegration find their root and source in a vertical broken relationship which just led to the horizontal dimension. The Prophet Ezekiel illustrates that a broken relationship can be healed through the compassion of God. God spoke through the Prophet Ezekiel that the Israelites will be able to remember the mercy and benevolence of God. He said “No one looked on you with pity or compassion to do any of these things for you.”
Second World Day of the Poor
(November 18, 2018)
Pope Francis says that there three verbs in Psalm 34 that describe the poor’s relationship with God:
1. “To Cry”- In the midst of poverty, the poor man feel the pain of having less and even none. He cries and his cry “becomes a cry that rises to heaven and reaches God. To hear their voice and their cry, “what we need is the silence of people who are prepared to listen.”
2. “To Answer”- A compassionate and loving God does not only listens to the cry of the poor but He answers. “God’s answer to the poor is always a saving act that heals wounds of body and soul, restores justice and helps to live life anew in dignity.”
3. “To Free”- True freedom is found in God’s intervention. The poor seek the intervention of God because they feel in themselves deep helplessness. “Poverty is not something that anyone desires, but is caused by selfishness, pride, greed and injustice. These are evils as old as the human race itself, but also sins in which the innocent are caught up.”