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The Sacrament of Marriage
Friday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
Opening Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, open my heart to accept your saving words. Bless me as I reflect upon your gift of marriage to the world.
- Jesus Protects the Sacrament: Christ himself instituted each of the seven sacraments, and here we have a biblical example that shows Jesus elevating marriage to a sacrament. Marriage is important and sacred. In the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, a man and a woman choose to love, honor, and cherish their beloved spouse in order to grow in holiness and love together. In this passage, Jesus indicated the importance of the sacrament by placing clear boundaries around the marriage vows, the sacred words of the sacrament. These vows are the form of the sacrament which the man and the woman promise to each other. In fact, the ministers of Holy Matrimony are the man and the woman, not the priest or deacon, who instead act as a witness to the marriage. The Catechism teaches “that the spouses, as ministers of Christ’s grace, mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church” (CCC 1623).
- Marriage, A Sturdy Boat: Marriage between a man and a woman reflects the covenantal relationship between Christ and his Church. The exclusive, faithful love between a man and a woman is a sign to the world of the love that God has for his Church. Marriage is a vocation, and therefore a path to holiness. In a recent letter to married couples, Pope Francis wrote these encouraging words to married couples: “Marriage, as a vocation, calls you to steer a tiny boat–wave-tossed yet sturdy, thanks to the reality of the sacrament–across a sometimes stormy sea. How often do you want to say, or better, cry out, like the Apostles: ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ (Mark 4:38). Let us never forget, though, that by virtue of the sacrament of Matrimony, Jesus is present in that boat; he is concerned for you and he remains at your side amid the tempest.”
- Indissoluble Bond of Love: Jesus, as the author of the sacrament, underscored the importance of the marriage vocation and rebuked the temptations to sin that can attack this shared vocation between man and woman. Adultery attacks the bond of love between the married couple. In fact, not just the physical act of adultery, but even the lust that proceeds the physical act attacks the bond. Divorce seeks to dissolve an indissoluble bond; it ignores the truth that marriage is for life. Later in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus makes this point even more strongly: “Some Pharisees came forward and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason whatsoever?’ He replied, ‘Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator “made them male and female” and said: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two become one flesh”? And so they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate’” (Matthew 19:3-6).
Conversing with Christ: Thank you, my Jesus, for instituting the sacrament of Marriage. Through it you have given married couples a path of holiness in their way of life. I am sorry for any sins I have committed that go against your plan for marriage. Help me to always protect the bond of married love. Make your holy presence known to all married couples, and strengthen them as they traverse the sometimes stormy seas of married life. Bless them with the virtues they need for their state in life.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray for a married couple who could use some extra prayers.
For Further Reflection: Read The Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to Married Couples for the “Amoris Laetitia Family” Year, 2021-2022.
Carey Boyzuck is a wife, mother, freelance writer, and lay member of Regnum Christi. She blogs at www.word-life-light.com.