No Hard Hearts in Marriage

Mark 10: 1-12
Sir 6:5-17 / Psa 119

For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, `God made them male and female.’
(Mark 10:5-6)

Thorns of divorce and adultery,
Aim to destroy the family;
God gave marriage for man and wife,
Nothing must break this bond for life.

Jesus set out and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again; and again, as his custom was, he taught them. And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and dismiss her.” But Jesus said to them, “For your hardness of heart 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. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And 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.” (Mark 10: 1-12)

Reflection

The institution of marriage is the most important choice that a man and a woman can make in their entire life. As in the other two major milestones in a man’s life (birth and death), it is supposed to be permanent (should happen only once, unless the partner dies). The only difference is that God gives us the privilege to make all the choices — who, when and where to marry – before we take the ‘ultimate plunge’.

Unfortunately, due to man’s “hardness of heart” – in his selfish desire to be in control, and unwilling to surrender his cherished freedom of choice, divorce was invented (by man) as an escape hatch. Before marriage, as the adage aptly puts it, “love is blind, and lovers cannot see the petty follies that they themselves commit.” The lovers’ hearts are tender for each other, and even soft as putty to be formed by each other’s charms. But when they are already living with each other, and reality sets in to reveal each other’s real personality, their hearts begin to undergo some transformation, sometimes for the better, but more often for the worse. The faults that we see in our spouse cause our heart to harden, unless we temper it with respect, understanding and forgiveness.

It is true that marriage is made in heaven, because Christ Himself instituted this sacrament. But it is lived here on earth, and unless we make our pledge “for better, for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death” not only to our spouse, but also to Jesus Christ, our commitment may only last as long as our infatuation, or until the romance dies out. More than “ownership of each other’s heart”, or the “sealing of our love for all time,” the true purpose of marriage is to fulfill our life in God’s plan of procreation, and in the process to experience divine love in the purity of this bond. But this can only be attained if both husband and wife persevere in their commitment of fidelity, remaining chaste for each other as God willed it. God’s command in the book of Proverbs says it so beautifully: “Drink the water from your own cistern, fresh water from your own well. Don’t let your fountains flow to waste elsewhere, nor your streams in public streets or for strangers, so that your fountainhead may be blessed.” (Prob.5:15-17)

For our union to become “heaven on earth”, Jesus its High Priest must be in the center of our marriage, reflecting the image of the Holy Trinity in its love and bonding. Husbands must always keep the words of Jesus in mind: that it is often our “hardness of heart” that affects our loving relationship with our wife. We should be more considerate to our spouses, “realizing that the woman is of a more delicate nature” (1Pet.3:7). Having been married for more than four decades, I am convinced that our love for each other is not of our own making, but is a gift from God. It must be divine in nature, because it seems to grow stronger through the years. We constantly thank God, our Father for His gift of love.

We will serve You, Lord all the days of our lives, for You have blessed our marriage with Your love, and nothing we do can ever be enough to express our gratitude to You. Amen.

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