Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
In other years: Our Lady of the RosaryReadings of the DayRB: Ch 7:56-58Mass: Gn 2:18-24; Resp Ps 128; Heb 2:9-11; Mk 10:2-16
If we love one another, God remains in us and his love is brought to perfection in us.
Please bear with me as this professed monastic, never been married shares some reflections on the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. That said, there must be similarities in the loving union between a man and a woman and those committed to life in a monastic community, or at least we have something to learn from one another, for, as St Paul writes, 'as in the one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another' (Rm 12:4-5). A few words from St Benedict come to mind, surely ones relevant to both states of life: 'Listen … with the ear of your heart' (RB Prologue 1); 'ready to give up your own will' (RB Prologue 3); 'honor everyone' (RB 4:8); 'devote yourself often to prayer [together and alone]' (RB 4:56); 'if you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him or her before the sun goes down' (RB 4:73); and words which translate very nicely into the mutual consent expressed in a formula used during the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony--some of the most challenging while at the same time being most life-giving: 'They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other, supporting with greatest patience one another's weaknesses of body or behavior' (RB 72:4-5) and 'to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health'; and lastly, 'may Christ bring us all together to everlasting life' (RB 72:12) and 'till death do us part.'
A most beautiful sight to behold is in seeing a man and a woman who have been married 50, 60, or more years still in love with one another. I have had the privilege of witnessing this in more than one couple. Their love for one another is palpable: shared silence, holding hands, patience expressed in word and deed, serving and caring for one another, the husband still holding the door open for his wife!; a loving glance here and there, etc. The same holds true for seeing a newly married man and woman exhibiting the same signs but in different ways. Although I have never been in the physical presence of the newlyweds in the above picture, I venture to guess that they witness to this love of mutual respect and honor. It seems to me, however, that they would have much to absorb from the witness of both sets of their parents. This translates too to the monastic way of life in that we have before us the examples set by our seniors (see RB 7:55).
One way to summarize these random musings is in the words of Pope Francis, from a 2015 homily preached for the opening of that year's Synod of Bishops. Commenting on the Gospel and the Pharisees questioning Jesus (Mk 10:2), 'Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?' The Holy Father said: 'To a rhetorical question - probably asked as a trap to make Jesus unpopular with the crowd, which practiced divorce as an established and inviolable fact - Jesus responds in a straightforward and unexpected way. He brings everything back to the beginning, to the beginning of creation, to teach us that God blesses human love, that it is he who joins the hearts of two people who love one another, God who joins them in unity and indissolubility. This shows us that the goal of conjugal life is not simply to live together for life, but to love one another for life! In this way Jesus re-establishes the order which was present from the beginning.' Amen.It is for this that we come into the world - communion and self transcendence. We do not become fully human until we give ourselves to each other in love.
(Thomas Merton, 1915-1968)From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven, and when two souls that are destined to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together, and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being.
(Baal Shem Tov, 1698-1760)Holy and chaste, full of sweetness and delight, love utterly serene and true, mutual and deep, which joins two beings, not in one flesh but in one spirit, making them no longer two but one.
(Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153)