For better or for worse
Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Oct. 7, 2012 (27B)
By Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS
Podcast of the Sunday Readings
Sunday Bible Study Questions
Lecturas y Comentarios
New American Bible
Prayer of the Hours
“Grant us, O Lord, to be one heart and one soul from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health until death do us part”
Do you think this prayer, which echoes the words of our Lord Jesus, still makes sense in modern nations and cultures where divorce is socially acceptable, even legal, and easy? I believe most of you are getting ready to debate with me on this one. For starters, let me say that in many aspects of our lives, and especially in marriage, we would rather prefer that God leave us alone.
Among Christians is the growing acceptance of the societal view of marriage as a social contract, governed by civil laws, rather than as a sacred covenant, witnessed and guaranteed by God Himself. Instead of promising each other faithfulness "till death do us part," many couples are instead pledging to remain together "as long as we both shall love."
The recent "no fault" divorce law makes the dissolution of marriage so easy that some lawyers advertise divorce services for less than $100.00: "All legal fees and services included in one low price." What a sad commentary on the cheapness of marriage today! What God has united, many will put asunder for less than the price of a good pair of shoes.
Recently, a popular book came out, entitled “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. The author opines that so different are men and women in the way they think and act that they must be from different planets. He speaks in hyperbole, of course, but his convictions are rather clear. The author of Genesis tells a different story. In fact, it could be titled “Men and Women from Eden.” They are created to be partners in a complimentary fashion to live in a state of blessed mutuality. “They are no longer two, but one body.”
Sadly, when sin enters the equation this mutuality is less apparent and is much more difficult to sustain. Divorce and espousal abuse are the perfect reminders of the effects of sin. God’s plan for men and women laid out in Genesis is recalled and reaffirmed by the Lord Jesus who elevates matrimony to the level of a sacrament. By His grace can men and women find in Holy Matrimony a covenant life-giving love.
The sin is explained by Jesus in His response to the Pharisees who said that “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce,” saying, this was because of your stubbornness (hardheartedness). We do not realize the true hardness of the human heart. Nobody’s heart harden as result of one thought or deed. The hardening of the human heart is a process. Hardheartedness is a self-induced condition.
Relationships need maintenance to avoid this. In the midst of emotional meltdowns, plain mistakes, misunderstandings, we need the openness to recovering, recuperating and reconnectting. A sage once said the Lord gave us two ears and one mouth. That ratio should remind us the importance of listening. Openness to listen can be difficult because in situations where it is needed most, we are usually focused on what we are going to say next.
"To keep a marriage brimming with love in the cup…When you are wrong, admit it and when you are right, shut up!"
“Do not criticize the weaknesses of your husband/wife. Remember that because of his/her weaknesses,he/she could not choose a better spouse."
The great killer of trust is contempt, and like cancer, very toxic/fatal in any relationship. It is the belief that the other person is worthless and deserves scorn. Contempt degrades the very people you are suppose to love. It is an effort to make you big and someone else small. It will appear in your tone, eyes, body language, words. Contempt can be conveyed in myriads in many ways, and whenever it shows up, it cripples intimacy.
Contempt is the modus operandi of evil; the name Satan means “accuser.” Accusations are generally not invitations or explorations; they are intended to humiliate, disempower, and make others vulnerable to manipulation. Contempt’s goal is to discredit and steal dignity so the victor remain in control.
At the heart of marital relationship is the call to Intimacy. This is that fuel that turns new love into deeper love. It provides a level of closeness that love’s infatuations alone cannot deliver. Intimacy is not a single isolated act. It is connecting and sharing who are with one another – talking, thinking together, touching and togetherness.
These reflections are meant to show that relationships can either bring out the best in us or the worst in us. A Marriage is, after all, for better or for worse. There are those who readily opt “for the easy way out.”