August 14, 2020 (Friday of Week 19 Year II: St Maximilian Kolbe)
What God has joined…
Dear friends in Christ, today we celebrate the Memorial of St Maximilian Kolbe a Franciscan who did his best to propagate the Word of God using the means of modern communication. He founded a newspaper, and a sodality—The Knights of Mary Immaculate which spread widely in Poland and beyond. He went to Japan and also started the newspaper there. He was arrested in 1941 by the invading Germans and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. In August of that year, Maximilian offered to take the place of another prisoner who had been selected to die of starvation. He spent his last days comforting his fellow prisoners. The man he saved was present at his canonisation. What an extraordinary Christian life?
Our first reading (Ezekiel 16:1-15.60.63) presents a relationship gone awry. God through the prophet Ezekiel confronts Jerusalem with its crimes. The prophets Hosea and Jeremiah, already described the relationship of Israel and God, in the language of a marriage. Israel had been an unfaithful bride, who had failed to honour her marriage contract with God. God on the other hand had remained ever faithful to this marriage covenant. Ezekiel takes on the same theme here, describing how God had taken Israel like an abandoned child in the wilderness without any hope of survival and had cared for her and bound himself to her by an oath, to make her an adorned bride to himself. Israel became more beautiful with each passing year and that beauty became her undoing as she prostituted herself with all comers. The passage concludes with the faithfulness of God, in spite of her waywardness, “Yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant…when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord.” God will not stop loving his people in spite of their sinfulness.
The Gospel passage (Matthew 19:3-12) presents a big challenge to marriage—“Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” In answering this Pharisee, Jesus took him on an excursion back to how it all began. Right from the onset, God made them male and female and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.” Is it not a fantasy to talk of a situation where any marriage, which brings together people of two different backgrounds will be without its challenges? There are marriages with serious problems we must admit, there are however people who are ready to pack it up, for any little thing. There are those who are not sincere with their spouses; some of the problems plaguing many marriages today were there before the oath was taken, but were swept underneath the carpet. “What God has joined together, man must not divide.” In a situation where people already have divorce on the table as one of the options they will resort to, even before the marriage knot is tied, leaves much to be imagined. Rather than apportion blames, let us pray for God’s blessings on our marriages and pray for those who are going through the rough patches of their lives, that they will find a common ground and joy in one another.
Let us pray: Lord help our marriages. Pour the grace of your love into our hearts to see your purpose for our lives and pursue real love. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.