Genesis 2: 18 – 24, Mark 10: 2 – 16
The reading from Genesis is one of the more popular readings that couples select for their wedding ceremony. Even if the parents of the bride and/or groom are divorced, couples preparing for marriage often times opt for this reading from Genesis. I think it is the intention and hope of everyone entering into marriage that it will truly last until death does its part. Even though the reality of our time is that many marriages do end in divorce, couples approach the altar with the firm belief that theirs will last. The readings from Genesis and of the Gospel speak of the beauty of the love that unites a man and woman in marriage, and the commitment that is necessary for a true and lasting marriage. The readings challenge us to look upon marriage as a divinely ordained institution.
Because marriage between a man and woman was initiated by God and is important to look at it in the context of not only the couple entering into marriage, but also God’s presence in that relationship. We hear throughout the scriptures, in homilies, and we read on prayer cards and bumper stickers that God loves us. In the writings of John; the Gospel, his epistles and even in revelation the main message is the love of God. It is a pure and perfect love that is poured out on us, an unconditional love. We are not accustomed to a love that is unconditional; we oftentimes experience so-called love that includes some conditions. Conditional loves is that someone does the right thing, they will be loved, or if they do the wrong thing love will be withdrawn. Conditional love is not true love; true love is given and received without conditions. This is the love God has for us, and the love we are called to have for God.
Other than our relationship with God, where do we experience unconditional love? We do so in marriage. When a couple exchange vows the various forms all say the same thing; that they promise love each other in good times and in bad, in richness or poorness, in sickness and health, all the days of their lives. They promise to love each other without conditions. Marriage is the best human example we have of the love God has for us. It mirrors the unconditional love of God and brings it down to earth for us.
When a man and woman enter into marriage it is with God who sanctifies their union and is very much present in their marriage. His love is the gift that enables the husband and wife to love each other and to share in creation with him through the gift of children. What a beautiful and precious gift children are in marriage. Children are the fruit of the unconditional love that binds the husband and wife to each other and to God. The new born baby is received with awe and love by the parents.
Unfortunately, just as every marriage does not last until the death of a spouse, every gift of conception is not respected and revered. Abortion is a tragedy that we should never lose sight of, nor cease to pray for its end. “Every Life is Worth Living” is the theme for Respect Life Sunday and focuses on the value of human life. We are called to value and respect life from the moment of conception until natural death. Today, and throughout the month of October, let us pray for married couples, their children, and all people who are vulnerable to mistreatment and unnatural death.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.