October 3, 2021 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
This weekend’s readings remind us that God has a wonderful plan for the human race and at the very heart of that plan are two things: love, and all is a gift.
First Reading from Genesis
Our first reading from Genesis takes us back to the very beginning of creation.
- Creation is new and pristine.
- It radiates the beauty that has come from the creative mind of a God who loves.
- All of creation exists as an explosion or overflowing of his love.
The author of Genesis then speaks to us of original innocence.
- It is an innocence that was intended from the beginning by God for humanity.
- Men and women are created by a loving God.
- God creates woman as a partner for man, equal, but different.
- Their sexuality is a gift from God.
- He intends that they be complementary and work with each other.
- Furthermore, the union of husband and wife is a part of the divine plan.
- That is why Jesus quotes this passage in the gospel, “for this reason a man shall leave his mother and father and cling to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.”
Jesus’ statement of the gospel is not without controversy.
- The religious leaders ask him, “is it permissible for a man to divorce his wife?”
- Of course at that time according to Jewish practice a man could write up a bill of divorce for just about anything and divorce his wife.
- It was not the case for the wife however.
- Jesus goes back to the original innocence of creation.
- He speaks that it is the hardness of the human heart caused by a failure to love that divorce was permitted.
- God never intended it that way Jesus announces.
- The religious leaders find his words difficult to accept.
- Furthermore, his disciples question Jesus as well.
- Notice however, Jesus does not back down.
- He boldly proclaims the bond God has joined together no human being has the right to separate.
- Divorce was never meant to be a part of Gods plan.
Pain of divorce
However, I am aware that some who hear this message have experienced the suffering of a breakup of a marriage not through their own fault.
- I’m sensitive of the pain and difficulty that you may have gone through.
- You are not alone. Be assured, Jesus is with you.
Sacrament of Marriage
The faithful union of a husband and wife ensures the continuation of human life and the unfolding of Gods plan for the human race.
- The sacrament of marriage is the confirmation that what God has joined no one must divide.
- The bond of marriage is intended to be permanent, faithful and indissoluble.
- It speaks to us of the love of God and the faithfulness that God shows to each of us.
- The sacrament of marriage remains the enduring sign of God‘s love for his people. It is always a faithful and creative love.
- Similarly, the love of a husband and wife is a faithful and creative love that brings new life.
- That love is a gift and participates in Gods overflowing love.
Witness to Love
Our diocese is about to embark on a new marriage program called “Witness to Love.”
The purpose of our marriage preparation is to enable couples to better communicate and to have the best marriage possible.
- There are two basic underlying ideas in this process.
- First it involves the entire parish preparing couples for marriage and enabling them to participate in parish life.
- Secondly, it’s an opportunity for evangelization.
- Disciples make disciples who witness to the presence of Jesus in their lives.
- The new diocesan pre-marriage program is a mentor-based marriage preparation that helps to prepare engaged couples not only for marriage but to help them transition into the parish and a community of faith after they are married.
The marriage preparation involves several components.
- First of all, couples meet with the priest and take a pre-marriage compatibility survey. T
- The purpose of this survey is to give couples a snapshot of their relationship.
- It gives them an idea of the strengths in their relationship as well as areas that need work.
As in the past, the engaged couple meets with the priest to review the results of the compatibility survey.
In addition to the compatibility survey, engaged couples will have the opportunity to meet with a mentoring couple.
- This will enable them to walk with a married couple in the months prior to their marriage.
- The mentoring couple and engaged couple will have a chance to meet six or seven times as part of the marriage preparation.
- At the heart of this is the understanding that disciples make disciples.
- In our faith journey we don’t walk alone but we walk together.
- This will enable engaged couples not to only to become familiar with married life, but also be absorbed into the life of the parish once they are married.
- This is a new component of the marriage preparation of engaged couples.
- I suspect most engaged couples will find this different but enriching over a period of time.
- Not only that, but mentoring couples will also grow in their own relationship as husband and wife.
Invitation to couples
Here is where I need your help. I need seven or eight married couples who would be willing to serve as mentoring couples.
The requirements are simple.
- First be married more than five years.
- Second be married in the Catholic Church by a priest and third have a healthy marriage.
We have many couples in our parish who have strong and beautiful marriages.
- You are witnesses to the faithfulness and the during quality of married life.
- Through your sacrifices and love you have preserved the union and vows that you graciously and generously spoke on your wedding day.
- We need your witness!
- Our diocese will help prepare you as a mentoring couple.
- It will be an enriching experience for you not only as a married couple, but also help you to grow in your own faith journey.
- You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have made a difference in the life of an engaged couple as they prepare for their marriage.
- Over the next couple of weeks, I will be contacting some couples.
- When you receive that invitation, be open to the workings of God‘s Holy Spirit.
- Open your hearts to the possibility that you will be involved in an important marriage ministry.
I ask you to consider this and respond with a generous heart.
Marriage preparation is really a ministry of the whole parish.
- We are a family that gathers weekly to praise the Lord.
- We are together in our own faith journey as Catholics.
- None of us does this alone. We are God’s people.
- Preparation for Baptism, preparation for First Holy Communion, preparation for Confirmation and preparation for Marriage is a part of the faith journey for all of us.
- We journey together.
- The Lord invites all of us to be bearers of the good news of his kingdom. His plan is one of love.
- Let us pray for all those who are preparing for marriage.
- Let us pray that the Lord will bless and strengthen the marriages in our parish.
- May those marriages be a sign of God’s faithful love for his people