First Reading: Jo 24:1-13; Psalm: Is 136. R. v. 1b; Gospel: Mt 19:3-12
THE VOCATION OF MARRIAGE
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
“If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.” (Mat 19:10)
There occasionally arise the argument on which is more difficult between celibacy and the marital life. We cannot expect to have a winner in this kind of argument because neither of them is easier than the other. And each of this vocation has its own cross or crosses that accompany it. The disciples of Jesus were alarmed on hearing Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and they exclaimed; “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.” The disciples had always believed that a man can divorce his wife at will; but Jesus condemned that belief and enlightened them that Moses only permitted divorce because of their hardness of heart. But it was not so from the beginning.
Jesus agreed with his disciples that it is a hard teaching to remain united to one’s wife forever which was why he said that not all men can receive this precept. However, Jesus added that those who can receive this precept are those to whom it is given. This implies that marriage or celibacy is not just a choice but a vocation given by God that requires discernment prior to our choice of any of them. So we don’t just choose to marry or to be a celibate. We need to discern carefully to know which of these vocations God is calling us to embrace. For not everyone is suitable for marriage or for the celibate life.
The rush into marriage without careful consideration or discernment has led to many divorce cases today. What Jesus is saying to us today is that Christian marriage is a divine institution set aside for certain people. Not everyone can handle this vocation and its rule of indissolubility. This is why we need careful discernment and reliance on God’s grace. Those called to the vocation of marriage however are not absolved from facing the many trials that could rattle their belief in the undivided union of marriage. But they can rely on the grace of God in this sacrament to overcome these trials through forbearance and genuine love. Annulment of marriage by ecclesiastical tribunal however can only happen in the cases of error of person, force, wilful exclusion of children or consanguinity.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, bless all Christian marriage with faithfulness and fidelity. Amen.