A well-known parenting expert, Dr. William Sears, writes about once having had a pretty big shouting match with his wife Martha in their kitchen. At one point their two young children, unaware of what was going on, walked into the kitchen, and then immediately turned and walked out. However, after playing outside for awhile, the two came back, only to find their mom and dad laughing, the fight long over.
Initially, Dr. Sears admits, he was distressed that his children had witnessed the fight. Later, however, he concluded that maybe they’d learned a valuable lesson, which is this: Two people can fight and wrestle with a difficult issue without their relationship being threatened, because they are truly committed to one another, having pledged to each other their unconditional love.
Such unbreakable commitment is part of the brilliance of God’s design for marriage, affirmed by Jesus in today’s gospel. In marriage, a man and a woman enter into a permanent, life-long bond, so that when the going gets rough, they don’t take the easy way out, packing up their bags and walking away. They’re forced to stay together and, with patience, love, courage, and forgiveness, to work through their difficulties and, with God’s grace, to grow as a couple, and as individuals.
This is God’s way with us, isn’t us? He has invited us into a permanent relationship- a covenant- which the Bible often describes as a marriage. And through it all, through all our ups and downs, God sticks with us, even if and when we walk away. In his unconditional love, God stays committed to us, even when we break our commitment to him- time, and time, and time again. Not for his benefit; not for his growth; but for ours.
Readings for today’s Mass: http://www.usccb.org/nab/081211.shtml