A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Friday, August 13, 2004

But from the beginning it was not so

The word of God is very often a word that challenges, and today’s readings are challenging in more way than one.

Both the first reading and the Gospel are complicated: packing many things together. Also, the imagery of the first reading is more vivid and earthy than we may be used to.

In the Gospel, our Lord speaks of what we know as the special grace of celibacy – speaking of those who “have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. (Whoever can accept this ought to accept it).”

And then, there is our Lord's teaching on divorce: a very challenging teaching in today’s world, especially for people who have experienced the breakup of a marriage.

“But from the beginning it was not so.”

There is a great temptation for us to tell people who have been divorced that it is okay, that people make mistakes, and that God loves them.

People certainly make mistakes, God certainly loves us, and we certainly should comfort those who suffer – including those who experience divorce.

“But from the beginning it was not so.”

As those who have been married and divorced can tell you, divorce is not “okay.” Even if their divorce was allegedly "amicable," if their marriage ever meant something to them, it does not feel “okay” to have lost it (and if the marriage never meant anything to them, that is not “okay” either).

“But from the beginning it was not so.”

As we strive to help people get their lives together, none of us – neither we nor they – should let go of our ideals, none of us should let go of the way things were meant to be. The union of man and woman in marriage is too wonderful a thing: a lifelong bond of love and grace, the foundation of society, and a symbol of the loving relationship between God and His people (which is what today’s first reading is all about).

Sometimes it does feel easier to diminish our ideals in the name of “compassion” but that hurts all of us in the long run – especially those for whom life has been less than ideal. Compassion is not real if it denies what is true and good.

Life in this world is not perfect, “but from the beginning it was not so” and all of us – married, divorced, celibate, single, or widowed – should strive, with God’s help, to work toward making things the way they were meant to be.