FR. BEN’S HOMILY FOR FRIDAY OF THE 19TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME CYCLE II
THEME: FOR YOUR HARDNESS OF HEART…
BY: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
HOMILY FOR FRIDAY AUGUST 12 2022
*Ezek 16: 1 – 63, Matt 19 : 3 – 12.
‘For your hardness of heart’, a lot of Divine injunctions have been compromised! The rule of “70 × 7 forgiveness” is most essential in marriage because in that demesine called marriage, love is brought to the highest level of manifestation – *love, in marriage is made to bear fruit , and so, even if you may want to stop loving somebody at that level, you may not be able to discard the fruits that your marital love has borne*. The best option therefore in marriage is to keep forgiving and loving. Vima Dasan therefore defines *marriage as “a union of two good forgivers”*.
Jesus opines in today’s gospel that *’whoever divorces his wife except on the grounds of unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery’*. Very hard statement! Catholic exegetes do not understand this “grounds of unchastity” to mean one or two isolated cases of infidelity but “intention against fidelity” especially conceived before the marriage. What we see as grounds for annulment of a duely contracted marriage are *defects of form, defects of consent or diriment impediments*. The devil can always orchestrate one or two sins and offences of adultery / infidelity within a marital tenure (mearnt for life). The only weapon we can have against him is the weapon of forgiveness. When Jesus released this hard injunction, many of his disciples opted for celibacy. And here comes the PART II.
Christ told them that there are “eunuchs” (let me call them here “perpetual bachelors”) who are so from birth, may be because of some physiological or sociological deficiencies. That one is not salutary. *But there are eunuchs (celibates) who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of God*. The celibate priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church is one such example. But the caveat is that ‘not everyone can receive this precept, except those who have the grace’, 1 Cor 7: 7. The greatest problem we have today in the Catholic Church is that many who don’t have the calling are going into it for professional/ occupational reasons instead of vocational reasons.
The Catholic Church insists in Canon 1054 that *marriage is a covenant of life and love , not a contract. All these annulments/ acceptance to communion of divorced couples we are seeing here and there are due to “our hardness of heart”*. Divorce is not in God’s dictionary and so, can never be in the Church’s dictionary. Annulment has been introduced only because of “our hardness of heart”; our lack of patience in marriage, our lack of tolerance and forgiveness. *The two final vows of marriage and/ or celibacy are for better for worse. Only the grace of forgiveness and reconciliation can sustain them*. May God bless you today!