MARRIAGE: Entering into a Covenantal relationship with God
Bro. Azam Mansha
In the time of Jesus, the Pharisees were distinctly a large religious group compared to the Sadducees. Pharisees called themselves as the protector of the Mosaic traditions and oral law. In today’ Gospel, we can see that Pharisees came to ask Jesus a question while quoting a teaching of Moses about marriage and divorce (Deut. 24:1-4). Jesus - who is greater than Moses
(Heb 3:1-6); who is the fulfillment of the law (Mt 5:17) and who is the merciful face of the Father (Misericordiae vultus no. 1) - in response to Pharisees, highlights the spirit of the law. Jesus cites from the book of Genesis where it has been written that male and female are made for each other (2:24), rather than against each other. In their commitment to each other, a responsible and mutual act is needed. This union of male and female (marriage) is a solemn act of entering into a relationship with a sincere heart and commitment (CCC 1601). During his apostolic journey to Georgia and Azerbaijan, Pope Francis said, “Marriage is the most beautiful thing that God has created.” We can raise the questions HOW? and WHY?
In the Old Testament, the marriage metaphor is frequently used to highlight the intimate relationship between God and the Israelites in terms of love and covenant. We can see in the writings of Hosea (2:16-20), Isaiah (54:4ff) and Jeremiah (2:2 & 3:20). Now when a couple makes a solemn promise using the words “I do,” they enter into a covenantal relationship with God because man and woman are created on the image of God (Gen 1:27).
At present, the sacrament of marriage is facing many challenges. Many families and couples are going through difficult moments. They ask questions, ‘why is marriage important?’ Or ‘is there any need to receive the sacrament of marriage?’ I do appreciate their questions and indeed there are social challenges but we should never forget that in the celebration of the sacrament of marriage there are not only two persons (male and female) involved but there are three persons. Yes! The persons are: man, woman, and Jesus. Jesus is present there to celebrate and witness the beauty of the sacrament of marriage. Through this celebration man and woman creates a covenantal relationship with God through Jesus. A unique relationship has been built.
Therefore in response to the Pharisees, Jesus highlights that divorce is not only a separation from a beautiful relationship between man and woman but it is also a separation from the covenantal relationship. Jesus tells us to go by the spirit of the law rather than by the words of the law. By keeping the spirit of the law, the Psalmist indicates that we can receive many blessings in the family (Ps 128:2-5). Let’s remember the three secrets to a successful marriage life given by Pope Francis (2014, during an audience with married couples at the Vatican), that is: ‘permission’, ‘thanks’ and ‘forgiveness’: Permission to ask before taking any decision; thanks for the gift of presence of each other’s and do not hesitate to seek forgiveness when something goes wrong. Be ready to forgive and be open to receive forgiveness.
Whatever our state in life, May the Mother of Jesus, our Mother, help each of us to enter into a unique relationship with God through her Son: Jesus.