Marriage is for Children (#545, 27th Sunday)

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Ordinary Time, 27th Sunday. This Sunday kicks off the Synod on the Family. Prior to the Synod Pope Francis made some changes to the annulment process — not to make annulments easier, but just to simplify the process. It is clear that our Gospel is very timely. Jesus is not trying to judge people or make them uncomfortable. He is simply sharing the truth: Human beings were designed by God to mate for life. Divorce is an effect of sin; it wasn’t part of God’s original plan. Jesus is naming what we experience in divorce: being ripped in half, being cheated on.

Then Jesus welcomes children. Coincidence? Not at all. Marriage is for children: It creates a safe place for children and provides an incentive for the people who create human beings to stick around and raise them. Children hate divorce more than anyone.

Jesus is also calling us back to our childhood innocence. Adam and Eve were like children in that first marriage; they were naked but not ashamed, as innocent as little children. Clothes protect us from lust and frost. But they symbolize our fear of being used and our desire to put up walls to protect ourselves. For marriage to work the couple must both become child-like.

Jesus never stops loving like a child. He is willing to eat with anybody, even the “bad” children. He doesn’t use or calculate. He is not afraid to enter into our sinful brokenness; he is not afraid to call us “brothers” and “sisters.” He wants to lead us back to our childhood innocence.

The Gospel leaves us with this reminder: don’t run away from God, run towards Him. God wanted to forgive and heal Adam and Eve but they ran away. So many people respond that way with divorce and with family sin — they feel ashamed and so they leave. Every one of us is broken; we all struggle to love and be loved. Come to Jesus and let him embrace and bless you. Do not forbid others from coming to Him. Let Jesus lead us back to our innocence as children of God.

(4 Oct 2015)

Point to Ponder: When have you felt unconditional love from a child?

Point to Discuss: Gather with your family or friends and pray for the Synod on the Family. Perhaps you could use this prayer:

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendor of true love,
to you we turn with trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may the approaching Synod of Bishops
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer.


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