October 7, 2012 – Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Listening to and reflecting on today’s scripture readings, many people are transported to their wedding day. They remember listening to these readings, or others similar to them, as they sat dazed in thoughts of love and marital bliss. As the reader proclaimed, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife” (first reading), their hearts sang in joyful anticipation of a life lived together with their best friend, of the good times they would have, the children they would bear, the memories they would make together.
The priest proclaimed, “Therefore, what God has joined, no human being must separate” (gospel), and the couple gazed into each other’s eyes, so sure of how wonderful marriage would be.
And then their life together as husband and wife began.
For most married couples, life together has not been as easy or as blissful as they dreamed it would be the day they wed. Living together and truly loving each other even when things get hard (and for some, things get really, really hard), dealing with sicknesses, financial problems, or even just constant disagreements, both big and little, make marriage a difficult vocation for most to live out. Yet Christ calls us to this sometimes seemingly impossible vocation for life, insisting that “What God has joined together no human being must separate” (gospel).
Living married life is only possible with God’s grace. So, we must allow ourselves to be open to His grace. He pours Himself out for us, offering us a participation in His life, offering us the strength we need to keep going, but it is up to us to keep our hearts opened and disposed to receiving that grace – through constant prayer and reception of the sacraments, etc.
What’s more, living the married vocation requires a great deal of love and self-sacrifice. In order for marriage to be truly lived out, both spouses must give of themselves on a daily basis, committing to love one another unconditionally – not just when it feels good, not just when it’s easy, but all the time. Such love is one that extends beyond the mushy feelings. It is much deeper than that. It is a love of self-gift – living for one another – to bring one another closer to Christ.
And it’s not just married people who are called to live this way. All of us – married or single, clergy or layperson – are called to live out of love for one another, giving of ourselves on a daily basis in order to lead one another to Christ. That is the call of the Christian disciple. It is a life-long vocation only possible with God’s grace, and it is the vocation to which every one of us has been called.
No matter what our state in life, we, therefore, need to open ourselves to the grace God pours out on us – spending time with God in prayer every day and receiving the sacraments as often as possible. Then, we can go out into the world, armed with God’s help, and truly live for others, just as He did, using the many gifts He has given us to lovingly serve one another for life.