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Homily for October 8, 2012

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Genesis 2:18-25
Hebrews 2:9-11
Mark 10:2-16
October 7, 2012

It is not good for man to be alone.

These are the words that our God after he created the first man.  We are not created to be alone.  We are created to be loved, loved by God and loved by others.

Our love for others happens in many different ways from loving a stranger by caring about their needs to loving our friends and family. 

But ideally, human love reaches its deepest and most profound love in the love of a man and woman for each other as husband and wife.

Knowing man so well, God says that he will make a suitable partner for the man.  Then God creates the animals but none of them fit the bill.  Animals can make great companions but not in this way

Then, as the story continues, God took a rib from Adam and made Eve from the rib.  People have interpreted this to mean that there is one perfect match for each person that the man just needs to find the woman with his rib.

In reality what God is trying to tell us is that this ‘suitable partner’ needs to be of the same essence and compliment one another.  By complimenting, we mean how two work together.  One way of looking at it is ‘opposites attract.’  Then, in their different gifts make up for what is lacking.  But sometimes we find a best partner is the person with similar interests.

There is no magic answer to finding the ‘suitable partner’.  It takes effort.  And even when you find your ‘suitable partner’ it takes effort to make it work but when you find that person and put forth the effort to make it work, then the two become one flesh.

Of course, this is the ideal.  Then there is divorce.  Today there is a lot of it with about 50% of marriages ending in divorce.  In my own family there is more divorce than not.

The work to stop divorce begins before the marriage to ask oneself is this a person I want to spend the rest of my life with?  Am I willing, and will they be willing, to put effort in to make the marriage work.  Then, it takes a lot of effort after the wedding too.

Some people divorce because one or both parties aren’t willing to put the effort into the marriage.  Other times, there really are fundamental problems with the marriage.

Divorce is probably one of the great misunderstandings in today’s church.  For instance, some people think that if you are divorced, you can’t come up for Communion.  Divorce isn’t the problem (although depending on the reason for divorce, you might need to go to Confession).  Remarrying without getting an annulment is the point about Communion.

People think an annulment is just Catholic divorce.  That’s not true.  Divorce and an annulment operate from completely different premises.  

All that a divorce does is end a legal relationship.  It used to be you had to show some fault to get a divorce.  But today, if both parties agree to divorce, it’s over.  In some ways, it is no different that two owners of a business deciding to stop being partners.

But relationships aren’t that simple.  It isn’t just a contract to do things for each other.  

Jesus tells us that what God has joined together, no human being must separate.  Hearing Jesus words, the Church has no authority to end a marriage (separate).  An annulment does not end a marriage.

The wording is very difficult here.  What the church looks for in the annulment process is was the marriage a full marriage.  Even when an annulment is granted, the Church does not say the marriage never existed.  There was a marriage but there was something not “whole” about it.  It lacked the fullness of what a sacramental marriage is meant to be, two becoming one flesh.

The Church recognizes that there are reasons to divorce.  For instance, if you are facing real abuse, get out.  Patterns of adultery can be important here.

In cases like these, one divorces to protect themselves or their children.  But divorce is a legal process.  An annulment looks at what kept a marriage from being what it was meant to be.  

An annulment is not meant to be more hoops to jump through.  An annulment is an opportunity to talk about what was lacking.  If one looks beyond the ‘annulment process’ in a rules sense, it can be an opportunity for healing and understanding.  A divorce might be about blaming the other person.  An annulment looks at the relationship, what it was vs. what it was meant to be.  

The grounds for an annulment might be about the other person, it might not be.  It isn’t about blame.  It’s about finding God’s Will for the couple and moving forward.

May we always first pray that all marriages be full and valid marriages as God calls and when, in our humanness, that is lacking, may healing be found in God’s graces.

 

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