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Praying for Marriages
Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.” They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” His disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted. 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. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, your teachings in this Gospel require my open-heartedness. Help me to listen prayerfully and absorb the lessons you have for me and those I love.
- One Flesh: Like men and women today, the Pharisees and the disciples of Jesus seemed to struggle with the difficulty that a commitment to marriage requires. Jesus reminded them that a married couple becomes “one flesh,” and then repeated it for emphasis: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” We would do well to reflect deeply on the beauty of marriage as a sacrament: “The Lord, wishing to bestow special gifts of grace and divine love on married love, has restored, perfected, and elevated it. A love like that, bringing together the human and the divine, leads the partners to a free and mutual self-giving, experienced in tenderness and action, and permeating their entire lives; this love is actually developed and increased by its generous exercise.” (Translation from Gaudium et Spes, n.49)
- Hard-Heartedness: Our Church teaches that marriage is a sacred vocation, yet divorce, cohabitation, and same-sex unions have subverted traditional marriage, becoming socially condoned options in our modern culture. Are we close-minded and therefore shut off from the graces sacramental marriage can convey to a couple striving to live as “one flesh”? “Marrying” outside the sacrament, or ignoring/rejecting the role of the third person in every marriage–God–can lead to painful breakups with lasting consequences. By bringing Jesus into a marriage, the burden can become light and the pathway sure. “Where one alone may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
- Martyrs for Marriage: Saint Maximilian Kolbe offered to take the place of a family man who had been condemned to starvation during World War II. He suffered with nine other men for more than two weeks at the Auschwitz concentration camp and, as the last survivor, was put to death by lethal injection. Pope John Paul II canonized him in 1982, naming Saint Maximilian. Kolbe the patron of families. Let us pray for marriage and families because, as Saint John Paul II said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.”
Conversing with Christ: Lord, marriage can be a difficult vocation, but by relying on the grace of the sacrament, it can also be so beautiful! Thank you for so many examples of long-lasting happy marriages and bless those in the married state so that they may be witnesses to the next generation of the inestimable value of marriage. Help me in my state in life to protect and promote the sanctity of marriage.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make a small sacrifice for marriages I know that are struggling.
For Further Reflection: Nine Things to Know about Maximilian Kolbe, by Word on Fire.
Written by Maribeth Harper.