Twenty-Seventh Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year B
October 3, 2021 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Genesis 2:18-24 | Psalm 129:1-6
Hebrews 2:9-11 | Mark 10:2-12

 +In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Throughout the world, in the past five decades between 1970 and 2020, the divorce rate has more than doubled.  The divorce rates for Northern Europe and Western Europe, including the Scandinavian countries are fairly high, ranging from 45% of all marriages to 60% of all marriages, with the exception of Ireland, which is at 6%, the lowest in Europe.

Divorce rates are lower in Southern European countries such as Italy and Slovenia.  And rates are low in Latin American and Caribbean countries, with the exception of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.

In the United States, almost 50% of all marriages will end in divorce or separation.

According to the American Psychological Association, healthy marriages are good for couples’ mental and physical health.  They are also good for children since a happy home protects them from many educational and social problems.

University of California sociologists Chen-Tong Lir Wang and Evan Schofer give several reasons for the difference between nations that have higher rates of divorce:

–they have a higher level of economic development.  In wealthier countries, a greater proportion of people get divorced.

–more of their women are in the workforce

–they are more highly educated

–they have lower proportions of Catholics.  Nations with greater proportions of Muslims also have lower divorce rates.

And this one is interesting!

–they are more likely to be part of international organizations, and treaties,  The authors believe that when nations sign onto international and governmental organizations, they are more prone to be influenced by global mores such as civil rights, equality, and anti-discrimination.

Pope Francis refers to the family as “the Factory of Hope” since it combines the love and affection between partners with the sustenance of humankind.

Both the first reading today from Genesis and the Gospel from Mark proclaim the sanctity of marriage.  We are all reminded that marriage is a gift from God and as such, must be treasured.  Marital problems need to be resolved as God would want with forgiveness and promise for change.  Too often, people tend to resolve their marital problems with divorce.

Too many people today view marriage as something to be achieved rather than as a Holy Sacrament.

Our second reading from Hebrews points out that we all are from God, and that men and women are equal even though they are different.  Both were created by God, who intended for them to marry if they so choose to do so.

As the University of California sociologists remind us, single life needs to lose its stigma and become a recognized and respectable option for all.  When this happens, people who want to be coupled won’t be in such a rush to get married and it will allow them to make better choices which will lead to less divorce.

So, what does Jesus have to say about marriage?  Today’s Gospel from Mark is at the heart of all Christian teaching on marriage and divorce.

And I quote:

“from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.  For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Jesus goes on to say, Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Jesus’ teaching on marriage is embedded in His divorce sayings in which the Pharisees were trying to “test” Jesus.

Jesus’ answer takes us “back to the beginning” or back to our first reading today from Genesis and the creation of male and female.

Theologian and scholar, Ben F. Meyer, believes that Jesus’ teaching in Matthew which offers similar teaching from Jesus as Mark, but adds that divorce is only allowed due to hardness of heart, but “from the beginning, it was not so”, is characteristic of “high eschatological idealism” meaning a lustful thought can be equated with adultery.

 The eschaton, or end of the world, is the context to which he feels we must understand Jesus’ teaching on marriage.

In Matthew, Jesus also said that marriage is not for everyone.  If you want to have a relationship that can be ended at will, live together, but don’t get married!  Marriage is for those who want to stay with their spouse forever.

Jesus proclaims the end of divorce since God’s kingdom will soon be here.

This eschatological concept regarding the teaching on marriage relies on the idea that people will be able to fulfill their vows since marriage will come to an end with the eschaton.

During a celebration of the golden wedding anniversary of a couple, the priest asked the man for the secret to their long and successful marriage.  The man said, “Just say yes all the time!  There will be no trouble.”

Marriage is a total 100% giving of self to each other and God at all times.

None of what I said today is intended in any way to devalue same-sex relationships.  Keep in mind that Jesus never had anything to say about same-sex relationships. God wants the same happiness for same-sex relationships as God does for those between members of the opposite sex. The principles I’ve enumerated today can be applied to same-sex as well as opposite-sex marriages.

Remember, God wants us all to have happy and peaceful lives.  When we turn away from God and the teachings of Jesus, trouble occurs.

Let us all focus on our families and God, now and forever. Amen.