St. Paul answers the questions couples have in his letter to the Ephesians. Essentially, he is saying that marriage reflects the love of Christ, the groom, for His bride, the Church.
What is marriage exactly? A 6-year old boy named Eric tells us that “marriage is when you get to keep your girl and don't have to give her back to her parents." Robert Louis Stevenson says that “marriage is one long conversation,” while some people say it is a sentence, a life sentence.
Marriage is a sacrament for us, Catholics. As an institution where a family springs from it, the sacrament of matrimony is the single most indispensable foundation for happiness in all societies and in all our lives. If there is a single cause for most of the decay and defects in our society, it is the disintegration of marriage and families.
Marriage is an objective reality, and is not subjective. It is not a human invention, but a human discovery. It is God-made, not man made and therefore it can never be whatever we want it to be. Marriage is also a reality. It is like an elephant in a room—big, real and transparent. If two people choose to ride on this elephant, they must conform to its terms, which are unity, fidelity, indissolubility, commitment, sacramentality, among others.
God is love and He wants to share that same love with his own creation. There are many forms of love in human life, and all of them in some way reflect God. It is conjugal love alone, the love existing between a man and a woman, that has the dual privilege of totality and indissolubility.
When spouses commit themselves to each other, they say what Jesus says to you and me, "I give you my all!" God gave his all in Jesus. Jesus gave his all to us. The truest test of love is in the giving. The clearest sign of love is in the sacrifice.
When couples refuse to sacrifice, marriages fail. When couples fail the test of giving and the value of compromise, marriages break. Our lives can never escape the pain in sacrifice, but love brings back its meaning. There are always grounds for divorce in every marriage, but the secret lies in finding grounds for staying married.
Indissolubility is also necessary for society, for no society can endure without loyalty and promise-keeping. The marriage vow is the first and foundational promise. It is a promise that extends till death and even till eternity.
It takes three to get married, the bride, the groom and God. When marriages fail sometimes, it is because the Author of marriage himself was not included. Unless the good Lord is the boss in our lives, tensions will always happen between couples who continually ask ‘who’s the boss?’
Finally, there was a story about a wife who asked her husband why he was always carrying her photo in his wallet. He replied, “whenever I have a problem, no matter how great, I look at your picture and the problem disappears.' The wife was flattered and asked again, “you see how miraculous and powerful I am for you?' And the husband replied, “Yes! I see your picture and I ask myself what other problem can there be greater than this one?”
Married people and single people have their own problems, to say the least. Just like the priesthood, marriage is a calling and a vocation. And to echo the writings of St. Paul in today’s world, if we do not work at it, it will never work at all.
26 August 2012