28th Sunday in Ordinary Time–Year B
Wis 7:7-11; Ps 90:12-17; Heb 4:12-13; Mk 10:17-30
This week the homilies, like last week, are centered around the sacrament of holy matrimony, marriage. Last week we heard how marriage is a sacrament instituted by the love and design of God, and how we are called to enter this sacrament to be united to the love of God. As always one man and one woman. As a unitive, procreative, sacrament that draws the man and woman into greater holiness, union with God. This week we approach the question. Why does a Catholic have to get married in a Catholic Church?
Have we ever heard the term cafeteria Catholic? The term is meant to imply that we can fall into a way of practicing our faith, a way of being united to the church through picking and choosing, as one would in a cafeteria line, the gifts of the church that best suit us, and dismissing the ones that don’t appeal to us personally.
In today’s gospel we have a man who initially runs up to Jesus, and then at the end of his conversation with Jesus, goes away sad with his head down. The man was excited, maybe even proud to proclaim that he observed the teachings of the law from my youth, as he says. Then Jesus says to him, Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.
Well, as we know the man, couldn’t accept this teaching. It made no sense to him. How can I give my possessions to the poor? I am a good enough person. What difference does it make if I give my things to the poor? It makes no sense to me, so I will not follow it. I will observe other teachings, but not this one. I don’t think I have to. The man has chosen not to follow this teaching of Jesus. He can’t bring himself to enter into this particular part of the heart of Jesus.
To us, as present day followers of Jesus. Of course, we have accepted this teaching of Jesus to give to those who are less fortunate than us. But we can easily be swayed by some public opinions that try to convince us as Catholics, not to accept or observe certain teachings of the Church founded by Jesus through the Holy Spirit and the witness of the apostles.
My words today are meant to be an encouragement for us to accept all the gifts that Christ wishes to bestow upon his disciples. Just as with the man in today’s gospel, that Jesus desired to bestow the gift of concern and heart for the poor.
We have to see being married in the Church as a gift from, and united to, Jesus Christ. Once again, we have to know the truth, of being married in the Church, as a gift for and united to the heart of Christ.
First, for those of us thinking about getting married in the future, or know a Catholic who will be getting married in the future. A valid marriage, except in extreme circumstances, is only possible for a Catholic when it takes place in a Catholic church building. We don’t do destination weddings. Our destination is found right here. In this place. We don’t have to go elsewhere. We have to see union with God as more than him as Being, that provides a nice backdrop to my wedding.
Being married in a Catholic church is a public declaration of the truth of marriage being a sacrament united to Christ’s church. This action points to something the married couple and their children will become a part. Being present at Mass every Sunday, and living a life of faith united to Christ and His Church.
Jesus called the man in today’s gospel to enter more deeply into the heart of Christ, through a concern for the poor, and consequently into a deeper union with God. Marriage also calls man and wife into greater union to the heart of Christ through the life of His church.
Last week’s gospel, Jesus’ response to the Pharisees testing and questioning Jesus about divorce. In their question, they go back to Moses. But Jesus focuses first on marriage, and takes the discussion back to the book of Genesis, back to the love of the creators’ intention.
Jesus showed marriage as a gift fully united to the creator, to God. But, through sin, this gift became partially united. Jesus came to restore that unity again, fully. And so, in marriage, the man and wife have to unite themselves fully to the heart of Christ, not partially, as the man in today’s gospel desired to do, to restore that full union.
Being married in Church is about being united to the salvific heart of Christ. Listen to the words of the Catechism, “Because the sacrament of Holy Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life.”
Just as Christ offers all to the Church, to His Church. The spouses are called to imitate this heart. In offering themselves, totally, to what Christ is united. Not only for their private well-being and sanctity, but also as gift offered to the entire Church. If you feel called to the sacrament of matrimony, then all of us here are waiting to receive that gift, as well as your intended spouse.
And for those of us who are married civilly, but have never been married in the Church, or those who have had a divorce and remarried without receiving an annulment. We are waiting for you also. To embrace every part of the heart of Jesus.
To not remain in the trap that the man in today’s gospel had cultivated in his heart. Rather to allow the graces of God to open up our hearts, take away our fear, and reasoning away from, and receive the fullness of the gift of Christ, the gift of being totally united and in right relationship with the heart of Jesus.
If the Lord has been addressing us, in our heart, to be in right relationship with him, to enter fully into what Jesus offers. Then come and talk one of the priests here in the parish, or call us. We try to be nice once in a while. Actually, I know that all of our priests here at Sts. Peter and Paul want, like Jesus, to have our parishioners in the fullest relationship possible with the heart of Christ.
If you hadn’t noticed, we as Catholics see marriage, based on the teachings and heart of Jesus, through a decidedly non-worldly lens. For us, marriage isn’t a case of what’s in it for me? It’s about uniting ourselves to something so above and beyond even our capacity for love. That our question should never be, why should I get married in the Catholic Church? But rather. How can I not be?