Tonight I had an opportunity to go to Mass, which was the anticipation Mass for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. This Sunday the readings at Mass are those most commonly heard at Nuptial Masses or Christian marriage services. The first reading is Genesis 2:18-24, which ends with the famous verse:
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother
and clings to his wife,
and the two of them become one flesh.”
The Gospel is Mark 10: 2-16, which includes the following:
“But Jesus told them,
“… from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
So they are no longer two but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together,
no human being must separate.”
The priest celebrating Mass tonight was visiting the parish. He didn’t deliver a warm and fuzzy sermon on marriage. Instead, he issued a challenge for couples to wake up and work on strengthening their marriage bond.
He urged couples to forgive each other, to sit down and discuss issues, to pray together daily. He urged us to look to Jesus on the cross whenever we find it hard to forgive, because Jesus died to forgive us of all our sins. “And if you cannot forgive your spouse after that, then the crucifix has lost its meaning in your home.”
(Conceding, of course, that you have a crucifix–or even a cross–in your home, because if you don’t, well, there’s a problem right there.)
“You were joined by God on your wedding day,” he said, “the two of you became one flesh. The moment you start thinking of yourselves as two separate people, the devil can enter into the marriage and break it apart. While you remain one, you are united, and you are strong and Our Lady will be protecting you.”
I am not doing his sermon justice by a long shot, but believe me, it was the best I’d heard in quite a while. He concluded by asking us to pray tonight for married couples to persevere in their vows and work on strengthening the bond of their marriage. It makes you wonder now, how many family problems would be solved if the spouses stopped to remember that they are no longer two, but one?