Mar. 4, 2017

MY MARRIAGE AT LENT: BACK TO THE ORIGINAL INTENTION

One quick memory that fades easily in marriage is the initial intention, that moment when couples first met each other. I’m not sure any reasonable spouse marries to get divorced. Although marriages face crises along the line, those are not the main reasons for getting married. Some marriages are contracted because of some external attractions, but that’s not to say they are the original intentions. As I reflect on the encounter between Christ and the Jews, I tried to understand more the position that Christ took in that dialogue. According to the scriptures, “Some Pharisee approached him and asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ His first approach was to put back the question to them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ Their reply was, ‘Moses allowed us to draw up a writ of dismissal in case of divorce’. Then Jesus indicted them thus, ‘It was because you were so hard hearted that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation he made them male and female” (Mk.10:2-8). In that conversation, both perspectives convey a picture that divorce wasn’t the original intention for marriage. Albeit the Pharisees looked for reason to permit divorce, their answer showed that Moses merely allowed it for certain reasons. “Moses allowed us to draw up a writ of dismissal”, they said. If Moses merely allowed them to come up with one, a further implication is that it didn’t exist in the first place. Christ thus proved to them why Moses allowed them to come up with a writ of dismissal namely, their “hard heartedness”. The original intention is this: “But from the beginning of creation he made them male and female”.

Lent is a good time to reflect on the original intention for marriage and how that should drive my struggle as either husband or wife. The original intention is what God intends couples to achieve by getting married. The original intention presupposes the statement, “So then, what God has united, human beings must not divide” (Mk.10:9). Is your marriage tied to this original intention?

*The original intention refers marriage back to its Source: Christ did not jump into answering the Pharisees’ question about divorce without referring them back to the Source. In fact, in all his teachings, he almost made reference to the past in order to draw the lesson of what should be retained or removed for the new law to be fully meaningful. Couples should print this original intention and have it boldly on the walls of their living room to serve as reminder, “In the beginning of creation, he made them male and female. So then, what God has united, human beings must not divide”. What is it that tries to tear two of you apart? Don’t you think that is an intruder- external friend, work, in-laws, health, finance, gossip, frustrations, etc? Those are not the source. Go back to that source- “In the beginning…”

*The original intention puts God in the picture: Unfortunately, but truly, many marriages have crashed because God is nowhere close in some couples’ marriage agenda. In his Three To Get Married, Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “One of the reasons why so many marriages are shipwrecked is because as the young couple leave the altar, they fail to realize that human feelings tire and the enthusiasm of the honeymoon is not the same as the more solid happiness of enduring human love.” Some couples are scared of talking about God. The excuse for one’s partner is, “He/she is not a religious person”. To say that someone is not a religious person, yet he is into marriage, is like saying that someone is sick but doesn’t need to see the doctor. Have you asked why the rate of divorce cannot equal the rate at which priests denounce the priesthood? Do you know that being priest is a very tough task? Do you know that priests have very dry moments? Do you know that priests put up with debilitating challenges? Do you know that priests sometimes have doubts about their vocations? Yet priests put up with their priestly calling despite human imperfections. They struggle, they give spiritual directions to those who come to them while holding back their own worries. The secret is that priests try to put God at the center of it all. Recognizing that marriage is a sacrament is important in order to protect it. Putting God in the picture helps to calm the tension. If your spouse tells you he/she is not a religious person, tell him/her, I don’t want you to be religious, be Godly first. Being Godly takes care of being religious, it brings God to your marriage union always. 

*The original intention encourages sacrifice: A marriage without sacrifice is like a car without gas. Every couple must be ready to sacrifice in marriage. Except you flash back to the original intention, it may be tough to understand the place of sacrifice in your relationship. Sacrifice means giving up something for the sake of love. Sacrifice means seeing the concern of your partner as opportunity to support him/her not as burden. She might be sick, weak or struggling with some human flaws, help her to overcome. Sacrifice means embracing those challenges with courage, seeing with her lens not yours. Your spouse should be the confidant you have. Pope Francis describes sacrifice as, “…capacity for generosity, commitment, love and even heroism, and in this way inviting couples to take up the challenge of marriage with enthusiasm and courage” 

*The original intention nurtures hope: Hope is the capacity to live beyond the moment. It takes marriages into the future. Couples who flash back to the original intention see reasons to live. They believe in victory. They fail together, fight together, rise together and win together. There is no winner or loser in their marriage. Hope creates a resolve to see to the end. Hope eliminates negativity. Hope raises aspiration and gingers inspiration. 

*The original intention makes you realize that your marriage is not perfect: As couple, never expect your spouse to be perfect, otherwise you crash. Be open to mistakes. Be open to adjustments. Be open to forgiveness. The story of the rich young man who ran up to Jesus in the scriptures may help us here. He put the question to him, “Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus said to him, ‘Why call me good? No one is good but God alone (Mk.10:18-19). It’s important to expect goodness but not impeccability. Always remember that only God can bring out the best in your relationship. He who is good produces goodness, “…only in contemplating Christ does a person come to know the deepest truth about human relationships” (Amoris Laetitia, 77).

Go back to the original intention.