Readings (Year B):
Reflection: It takes a village
The scripture readings today give us much food for thought. The second creation story from Genesis and Jesus’ selective quote of this passage clarify the meaning of God’s plan for humankind. Man and woman become one unit, the two of them become one flesh and are coequal in the eyes of God. Jesus affirms the dignity and permanence of this union forged in the marriage bond and rejects the notion that somehow we are called to find reasons for divorce.
In our own day, in the face of real challenges, young couples still have high expectations. They value romantic love, equal sharing of duties, and care for children. They want to spend quality time with one another and still respect each other’s individual needs. Years ago when I worked with couples preparing for marriage, I found they all embraced those high ideals.
Successful couples know that it takes a lifetime to build relationships, to be faithful and considerate over the long haul. The church tries to help (perhaps not enough) to provide opportunities for engaged couples to meet the challenges they will face and develop patience and understanding in their relationships.
The church offers assistance with pre-Cana conferences in which older married couples offer their experiences of marriage and tell their own stories of success and failure. These generous couples don’t pretend to be perfect models but are willing to express the reality of how they have worked through their differences and still find hope and trust in one another. In telling their stories, the experienced couples encourage the engaged couples to be aware of creative ways to enrich their lives together.
People contemplating marriage today may well be tempted to ask, “Why get married at all?” In fact, the number of couples who choose to get married in the church has considerably diminished. When people consider the struggles married couples face and reflect on the complex world they live in, they may question whether they are willing to make a lifetime commitment. And yet, the church knows the need for the church and society to have this witness and continues to bless and affirm those who take on this awesome responsibility.
In his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (On Love in the Family), Pope Francis offers this reflection: “I thank God that many families, which are far from considering themselves perfect, live in love, fulfill their calling and keep moving forward, even if they fall many times along the way . . . there is no stereotype of the ideal family, but rather a challenging mosaic made up of many different realities, with all their joys, hopes and problems . . . the church is conscious of the need to offer a word of truth and hope . . . The great values of marriage and the Christian family correspond to a yearning that is part and parcel of human existence.”
We pray that with the support of church, family, and friends, every couple that wants to share their lives and love together in marriage will bring hope and trust to a struggling world by their faithful and loving commitment.