As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever and ever

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Genesis 2:18 - 24

The LORD God said: "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him." So the LORD God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man. So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: "This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called 'woman, ' for out of 'her man’ this one has been taken." That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.

Hebrews 2:9 - 11

Brothers and sisters: He "for a little while" was made "lower than the angels, " that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering. He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin. Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them “brothers.”

Mark 10:2 - 16

The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, "Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?" They were testing him. He said to them in reply, "What did Moses command you?" They replied, "Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her." But Jesus told them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But 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." In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this. He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

The self-existence of our Triune God is often extolled in our prayers of adoration and praise – “. . . as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever and ever”. With no beginning and no end, God is eternally present; transcending time, space and matter (rf Ex 3:14, Ps 90:2, Is 46:9-10, Rev 1:8). And because He transcends all things, God’s plan is also eternal, encompassing all that He has predestined to occur (Is 14:26-27, Rm 8:28-30). This Sunday’s readings enable us to recapture God’s eternal plan for marriage . . .

. . . as it was in the beginning

The well-known proverb “Well begun is half done” needs no further elaboration. This week’s first reading depicts the beginning of God’s creative work. It is well begun and is ALL done. Creation is completed with the creation of a man and a woman and God “looked at everything He had made, and found it very good” (Gen 1:31). So the man and the woman are very good in God’s eyes; for out of His love, they are created in His image and likeness (rf Gen 1:26). Created for one another, “their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man” (CCC1604). They are also bestowed with blessings and supernatural gifts to carry out God’s plan, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gn 1:28). So God is the author of marriage and He endows it with its own proper laws (rf CCC 1603).

. . . is now

In the Gospel Reading, we have a glimpse of how the dignity and sacredness of marriage has eroded over time. Even in Moses’ time, divorce has already set foot in the unbreakable union of the two lives who were once one flesh (rf Gen 2:24). The original communion between man and woman as in the Creator’s plan has been distorted, not from the nature of man and woman but from sin (rf CCC 1607). The consequence of sin not only brings in the “sting of death” (1 Cor 15:56) but also the disorder of the relationship between man and woman, manifested itself in “discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation” (CCC 1606). Needless to say, down the centuries, many different expressions of the marital bond (for example free union, trial marriage or cohabitation etc.) which God originally established have watered down the perpetual and exclusive covenantal nature of marriage. Yet despite turmoil and disruptions, God’s plan for marriage remains unchanged. Realizing in those who are faithful to their commitment of marriage, God’s plan continues to progress among His peoples.

. . . will be forever and ever

Jesus cleverly turns the Pharisees’ test of the controversial issue of divorce into a teaching that antedated even that of Moses. Not only does He seal the indissolubility and fidelity of marriage with His own authority, “let no one separate what God has joined” (Mk 10:9), He also reminds us of the beautiful vocation of man and woman that is in God’s creation plan. And He Himself raises the matrimonial covenant between a man and a woman to the dignity of a sacrament (rf CCC 1601) by signifying it as the union of Christ and His Church (rf Eph 5:23-25), an efficacious sign that communicates grace and blessings (rf CCC 1617). Spousal union is but a reflection of the nuptial covenant between God and His people (rf Is 54:5; 62:45, Hosea 2:14-23, Eze 16:8, Mal 2:14). “The covenant between the spouses is integrated into God’s covenant with man. Authentic married love is caught up into divine love” (CCC 1639).

Throughout the Holy Scripture – from the creation of man and woman in the beginning to the conclusion of the “wedding feast of the Lamb (Rev 19:7, 9) – the significance of marriage, its institution and meaning, its origin and end, its various realizations throughout the history of salvation, are all within the eternal plan of God. By the incarnation of the Son of God and His giving of His life, Christ has restored “the original order of creation disturbed by sin, He Himself gives strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to receive the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ” (CCC 1615), as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever and ever. Amen.

Posted: October 7, 2018

May Tam

May Tam, Bachelor of Social Science (University of Hong Kong), Master of Theological Studies (University of Toronto)

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