Our liturgy takes us back to the beginning, with how God created humankind to be the summit of creation. He planted the Garden of Eden where he placed the man to be happy. In his divine thought, seeing that it is not good for man to be alone, God decided to make a suitable partner for him, and so formed the woman. As man did not find a suitable helpmate and partner in all other creatures, he found it in the woman formed for him by God. Man saw in her, ’bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh,’ and named her: ’woman’ (Genesis 2:18-24).
By this, man and woman were created equal, in order to complement each other as partners. She is different from all other creatures, and should be held with dignity. Therefore, marriage and family life were instituted by God as sacred and indissoluble (Genesis 2:24).
Jesus Christ the Son of God held on to this so strongly. That is why when some Pharisees came to test him, and asked, if it was permissible for a husband to divorce his wife, he wanted them to say what Moses commanded. In their claim that Moses permitted divorce and the writing of a divorce decree, Jesus was of a different stance. He told them that Moses wrote that commandment for them because of their stubbornness, because at the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For that reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and the two shall become one. They are no longer two, but one flesh. No one should therefore separate what God has joined (Mark 10:2-16).
In all of these, Jesus defends the sanctity and sacredness of marriage and family life that Moses did not give any permission to divorce. He simply tried to formulate some rules, to control a wrong habit already existing and accepted by all. Also, the Law of Moses protected the woman from abuse, and the writ gave the woman back her freedom and dignity.
In re-establishing the family as husband, wife and children, we are told how parents were bringing their little children to Jesus to touch them, but the disciples were scolding them. Jesus noticing it, defended their action, and said: “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them. It is to just such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” And so, he blesses them. In this way, Jesus accords them a unique reception and recognition.
Here, Jesus wants us to see Christian marriage and family life, as husband, wife and children, patterned after his holy family with Mary and Joseph. Our families must take inspiration from God’s relationship with his people Israel in the Old Testament. In that relationship God was always faithful. He did not divorce his people, Israel as a result of their infidelities. He continued to reach out to them in love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. Our family and family life, must take inspiration from the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Built upon Christ, it must be deeply rooted in Christ in the marriage of divinity and humanity in the person of Jesus Christ. It must replicate the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for the salvation and sanctification of his body, the Church. It must relive what Jesus did on the cross in which he prayed and made excuses for his executioners, asking the Father to forgive them, for they do not know what they do. The members of the family must relive the love of Christ, for the sanctification and salvation of one another.
The redactor of the letter to the Hebrews, tells us about Jesus’ mission that it was through God’s gracious will, he might taste death for the sake of all men. In the family each person is called to relive the life of Christ and replicate his sacrifice that sanctifies. That is why, in Hebrews, we are told that he, who consecrates, and those who are consecrated have one and the same Father. He is not ashamed to call us brothers.
May our lives and families be strongly rooted in God’s plan.